The crowd in Helsinki for the 1999 World Figure Skating Championships were in for a treat however. Maria Butyrskaya had a golden opportunity to take down Michelle Kwan. Maria's task: just finish at least second to Kwan in the free skate and win a Gold Medal.
Kwan's free skate was improved from her short program, but not without flaw. She stepped out of her first jump combination and popped her double axle. But she still landed 5 triples and gave a dramatic performance.
But it was Maria Butyrskaya that stole the show. With a fiery determination she powered through seven triple jumps. She was completely dedicated to the music and the choreography the whole performance and it wasn't until she landed her very last jump that she let her satisfaction show through in the form of the biggest smile ever on a Russian and a fist pump at the conclusion of the music, Otonal by Raul di Blasio.
Maria didn't achieve her objective of finishing second behind Kwan and winning a Gold, she beat Michelle flat out and won the free skate along with the Gold! The Finnish crowd (Finland, very near to Russia...) went crazy for her and she enjoyed the greatest moment of her career.