Olympic and world figure skating champion Alina Zagitova has been congratulated after her testing maiden stint on primetime TV came to an end, with pole vault legend Elena Isinbaeva, who acted as a judge on Ice Age, praising her.

18-year-old Zagitova has frequently faced fierce criticism during her first steps into presenting on hit show Ice Age, coming under scrutiny for everything from her style and screen presence to confidence and ability to ask searching questions.

Two-time Olympic and three-time World Championships gold medalist Isinbaeva was unequivocal in her assessment of the student journalist, congratulating “dear Alina” on her debut.

“Any victory requires diligence and daily work,” said the 38-year-old, nodding to the sessions in speaking and interviewing that Zagitova has taken on a daily basis in her new career.

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“It was difficult but you did it. I am sure you will become the best in the profession of sports journalism. And maybe one day you will interview my [daughter] Eva after she wins at [tennis French Open] Roland Garros.”

The back-slapping between revered athletes continued as Zagitova lauded her more experienced co-host – 2002 Olympic king and four-time world champion figure skater Alexei Yagudin – while saluting the show.

“We tried to please you every Saturday,” she told her millions of fans, variously calling the program “energetic”, “emotional” and “magical”.

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“All of the participants tried themselves in new roles, trained, worried and received marks from the judges and from you, the audience…it was a great experience. And, of course, thanks to my co-host, Alexei Yagudin.”

Isinbayeva, who was on the judging panel throughout the run, called the show “an exciting three months.”

“There were disputes and disagreements, there was joy and tears – but I am very glad that, in the end, love and friendship won,” she concluded.