Saturday, 23 June, 2018

United States hopes already on thin ice in women's short program

MLADEN ANTONOV via Getty Images
Evgenia Medvedeva had set the previous world record for the event just minutes earlier MLADEN ANTONOV via Getty Images Evgenia Medvedeva had set the previous world record for the event just minutes earlier
Kelvin Reese | 23 February, 2018, 02:16

"I prepared for these Olympics like for a celebration", she said.

Boitano said the current judging system is more fair, but even he doesn't understand it - and the retirement of the old 6.0 system, known and loved by fans, stripped skating of an important piece of its identity. But that was until Alina exploded onto the scene and became the only skater to beat her, unseating Evgenia's gold at the European Championship earlier this year.

So far this season, it's worked: the 15-year-old Russian performed her backloaded Don Quixote program in the team competition at these Olympics, earning a season's-best free skate score of 158.08 points. She comes to PyeongChang as the two-time reigning world champion, the first woman to win back-to-back world championship gold medals since Michelle Kwan in 2000 and 2001.

Medvedeva finished close behind with 81.61 (originally a high-scoring short program before Zagitova skated). It's not a program. It's not a performance.

"I remember when Russian Federation won gold (with Adelina Sotnikova), it was really wonderful, I just sat in a chair and thought "I want the same feeling". On Ice, a show based around figure skating. The U.S. Figure Skating Association banned her for life after her motley crew of hangers-on bashed Nancy Kerrigan's knee in 1994, launching one of the most weird sports stories ever.

"We can talk about anything to each other", Medvedeva said, "and when we take the ice it's sport and we must fight".

Mirai Nagasu, whose own strategy for these Games entailed learning to nail the most hard jump in women's figure skating, the triple axel, said Zagitova's approach is fair. But since women aren't yet landing quads, their points strategy has to be more creative.

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Troy Terry , a 20-year-old Anaheim Ducks prospect who played at the University of Denver, dished three assists, all beauties. Olympian and the head men's hockey coach at Harvard looking on, Ryan Donato literally set the U.S.

"This is the best performance of my life, but there is still room to grow". Regardless, the battle between these two young Russians will define the Olympic women's event. "In Russia, it's nearly like walking for them".

Lipinski knows a thing or two about being a teenage jumping prodigy.

The rest of the world: Japan has a deep, competitive field of singles skaters represented at Pyeongchang by four-time national champion Satoko Miyahara (an elegant performer whose jumps are often as tiny as she is) and silver medalist Kaori Sakamoto, who won last month's Four Continents Championship with a charming free skate to the soundtrack of Amélie.

HollywoodLifers, are you rooting for Evgenia to win gold? Like her compatriots, the 17-year-old does many of her jumps with one hand over her head, increasing the difficulty and therefore her score.

Backloading the program is perhaps the riskiest of several tricks that skaters employ to gain points.

Grigory Dukor / Reuters Gold medallist Alina Zagitova of Russian Federation (R) and silver medallist Evgenia Medvedeva of Russian Federation attend the ceremony ISU European Championships 2018 victory ceremony. She went nameless for almost a year until her parents named her after Olympic rhythmic gymnast champion Alina Kabaeva, now reportedly Vladimir Putin's partner.

-Louise Radnofsky contributed to this article.

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