Zagitova Takes the Lead After the Short
A good skate from Medvedeva not enough to keep up with her training mate; Osmond currently holding down third with three more skaters in range; American ladies struggle with their big elements.
When the ladies took to the ice for the final skating competition at the Olympics, the Olympic Athletes from Russia still had won no gold medals. Even with their numbers reduced, and maybe a bit demoralized, that’s been a shock. But it was hard to believe that this state of affairs could last past the conclusion of the ladies, even if it did until then. It looked extremely likely that a Russian girl would top that podium. The main question was which.
It ought to be Evgenia Medvedeva. For the past two and a half years she’s been the queen of ladies skating. In a time when most Russian ladies, including 2014 Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova, haven’t been able to last, she has, she’s combined technical ability with sheer beauty to blow most of her competitors away and win two World titles. At the beginning of the season, she appeared undefeatable.
But then she got injured. And then her training mate rose to the fore. Alina Zagitova’s technical content outmatches everyone, and, unfortunately, she’s recently started getting higher presentation scores than she entirely deserves. At the European Championships last months, she handed Medvedeva her first defeat since 2015. Both ladies has spectacular skates in the Team event, and it looked like the competition could go either way.
Sadly, it now looks like it could very much go the wrong one. Although for the moments, the scores are close.
Zagitova Takes a Point Lead
Medvedeva was almost perfect. Landing the jumps certainly wasn’t a problem. But maybe they were a little stiffer than usual. She especially had to hold on to her double axel at the end. Her skating was still basically beautiful, and she got a handful of tens in her presentation scores. She came out of it looking good, especially when the judges gave her a score which broke her previous world record.
But then Zagitova skated clean too. And not only was her triple lutz-triple loop combination harder than Medvedeva’s triple flip-triple toe loop, but all her jumps were steadier. Her non-jump elements might have been too. Medvedeva didn’t max out the scores on any of her elements, but Zagitova did, even getting straight +3s GOEs for her closing spin. And the judges gave her presentation scores within a point of Medvedeva’s, which was just plain absurd of them.
As a result, she now holds the world record, and a lead of a little over a point. The message from the judges is clear. They don’t care that she’s still underdeveloped outside the jumps, and are ready to insult Medvedeva by giving this girl gold over her, at least if they both skate clean in the free.
Four Skaters Left in Bronze Medal Contention
It may be impossible to guess what she’ll do in the free, but Kaetlyn Osmond has always been strong with her short. She certainly was this time, knocking out her jumps from her opening triple flip-triple toe onward. She arguably put on a better show performance-wise than either Medvedeva or Zagitova, and one judge even gave her a ten in Interpretation. But her presentation scores couldn’t even quite match Zagitova’s (another absurdity). She’s nearly three points behind Medvedeva in third.
Three points behind her was Satoko Miyahara. She too was underscored in presentation, but she did likely benefit from one kindness: the technical panel called very few jumps underrotated. They reviewed her triple lutz-triple toe, but ultimately ratified it. From there, her gentle artistic skate was enough to take fourth over countrywoman Kaori Sakamoto and Carolina Kostner, who are only three hundredths of a point apart from each other.
Like the top two, Sakamoto benefitted from backloading all her jumps, including her flip-toe, and landed them well. It was only her weaker presentation that kept her from scoring higher. Kostner, on the other hand, kept close to the others mostly on the second-highest presentation scores of the field. Trying the triple flip-triple toe, she doubled the toe, before putting a hand down on her triple loop, though after that she skated better, and even maxed out her steps. Between Osmond and Kostner there’s now less than five points, and bronze could still conceivably got to any of these four.
Daleman and Sotskova Out of Medal Contention
Gabrielle Daleman came in just behind Kostner in seventh, but she’s ten points behind Osmond, probably too far down to come back for bronze. With her triple-triple being the easier triple toe-triple toe, she’d needed to nail it, and instead she stumbled badly on it. Faring even worse was Maria Sotskova. She started by falling on her triple lutz. Unable to do her planned triple-triple, she tried to attached the toe to her flip instead, only to get hit with the one underrotation call in the top twelve-which she thus rounded out.
Instead, the top eight was rounded out by the top home skater. Da-Bin Choi had one of the best short programs she’s ever skated. It contained not only her usual triple lutz-triple toe and clean jumping, but also a quiet beauty that’s been getting stronger with her. Of those who were contending for the top ten rather than medals, she by far has the most satisfactory night.
Disappointment for Four More Skaters, Including All Three Americans
All three American ladies started their shorts by their big ticket items going wrong. Though after Mirai Nagasu lost a well-fought battle to avoid falling on her triple axel, she at least landed her triple flip-triple toe, and her solo loop, though the last was very shaky. Neither Bradie Tennell nor Karen Chen landed their triple-triple. Tennell opened up the ladies short by falling on hers. Chen stepped badly out of her lutz and couldn’t do the second jump. She turned her loop into a combination later in the program, but it was still only a triple-double.
Nagasu managed to get ninth, Chen tenth, and Tennell eleventh, when not only did Sotskova come in below them, but the last skater who could’ve bumped them down further struggled even more. Elizabet Tursynbaeva did land a triple-triple, but it was only a triple salchow-triple toe. That meant a doubled loop left her all the way down in fifteenth.
View full results here. The ladies will skate their free Friday morning.