Saturday, 21 April, 2018

As Russian skaters set records, USA women far back

Olympic Athlete from Russia Alina Zagitova performing her free program during the women's team figure skating competition at the XXIII Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang WADA Officers Disrupt Russian Figure Skater's Training Session in Pyeongchang Sputnik Alexander Vilf
Rita Gibson | 22 February, 2018, 15:33

Russian athletes Alina Zagitova and Evgenia Medvedeva enter the free skate as the gold-medal favorites, as they both broke the previous world record with their scores in the short program Tuesday night-Medvedeva broke it first before Zagitova topped her score shortly after. Her execution and artistry were superb. She's the top-ranked USA woman headed into the free skate.

"I prepared for these Olympics like for a celebration", she said. Then came Alina, who knew no Russian showdown could be complete without a little Tchaikovsky: Skating to music from Black Swan in a literal tutu, our Swan Queen landed the most hard jumping combination attempted of any woman in the field in either program (the triple Lutz-triple loop). "And I hope I can do that in the free program". Kaetlyn Osmond is the 2017 world silver medallist and one of the most lovely jumpers to ever hit the ice.

For almost two years, Russia's Evgenia Medvedeva was so far superior to the rest of women's figure skating that her rivals struggled to come up with ways to accurately describe her supremacy.

"I remember when Russian Federation won gold (with Adelina Sotnikova), it was really fantastic, I just sat in a chair and thought "I want the same feeling".

"If we look back, about 10 years ago in Moscow about 20 ice rinks were built in different parts of the city, this obviously led to a steady flow of children", said Eteri Tutberidze, who coaches Medvedeva and Zagitova. Her touching theme about the soul leaving the body at the moment of death was awarded 81.61 points - the highest score ever achieved in the women's competition.

The four-time national champion from Kyoto appeared confident throughout and notched her best score of the season.

"I left nothing out on the table and I'm really glad I could do that", said Osmond, the 2017 world silver medalist.

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Given the nature of skating, Zagitova went into this season as an Olympic medal contender even though she had never competed on the senior worldwide level.

Japan's Satoko Miyahara is another elegant skater who seems to struggle with nerves.

Miyahara, performing to "Memoirs of a Geisha", skated immediately after Medvedeva and opened with a triple lutz/triple toe loop combo, then executed a flying camel spin and a combination spin, before landing a triple loop. It was not so bad for me.

"It's always been my dream to come here, and now that I'm here, it's so exciting and in some ways it feels like a dream", Chen said. It was very special and on this dynamic stage I am happy to skate here. She said she was "electrified" by Japanese teammates Yuzuru Hanyu and Shoma Uno's medal-winning performances in the men's event. She continues to up her scores.

Tennell, the day's first skater, fell on her opening triple-triple combination. "When I saw on the gondola the sun rising up, I felt good". Among four Olympic disciplines, only pair skating won China some credits with established pair skaters like Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo, who won gold at Vancouver 2010, and Sui Wenjing and Han Cong who pocketed a silver here this time.

"Elegant and secure jumps were great", the legend wrote after Sakamoto finished her program. In her short program, Zagitova executed a rare triple lutz-triple loop combination, a triple flip and double axel. She is ninth with 66.93.

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