USA women figure skaters unlikely to medal after falls

Randall Padilla
February 23, 2018

Both Olympic Athletes from Russian Federation train in Moscow, and are separated by just 1.31 points.

It's quite possible that Evgenia Medvedeva, 18, will win her country's first gold medal on February 22.

With the gold medal on the line, the women take to the ice in the final figure skating competition at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Medvedeva and Zagitova will compete against Canada's Kaetlyn Osmond, who placed third, and a field of 21 other competitors Friday in the women's free skate. Zagitova handled the free skate. While the rest of her program was clean, Nagasu's chances for an individual medal are damaged. The concept of the program is about the "flight of the soul" as it leaves a person's body at the point of "clinical death".

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

Speaking after the event, Zagitova said she was nervous going into it and "didn't expect" such a big score.

"I no longer see the flair of Peggy Fleming, or the personality of Dorothy Hamill, or the beauty of Katarina Witt. Wow I'm at the Olympics".

Olympic Athletes from Russian Federation have yet to win a gold medal at the games, but both skaters shrugged off the prospect of changing that. Her world record winning program is built around the theme of "clinical death", and in the past she's courted controversy by skating to a track from "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" that included audio from the September 11 terrorist attacks. The 19-year-old said she was inspired by the gold and silver medals her countrymen Yuzuru Hanyu and Shoma Uno won in the men's program. She wasn't the only person on the ice.

Alina Zagitova stamped herself as at least the Olympic co-favorite after upsetting a still recovering Medvedeva at last month's European Championships. No other female skater - not Zagitova, not Medvedeva - had gone fall-less this season. Their formidable coach, Eteri Tutberidze, trained 2014 Olympic darling Yulia Lipnitskaya in the lead up to Sochi. He won bronze at the world championships and will look to win his first Olympic medal in the event.

Earlier at the Winter Olympics, Mirai Nagasu became the first American woman to land a triple Axel on Olympic ice. That set the stage for an Olympic showdown, and with the Russian team having no gold medal so far, the spotlight was even more glaring for them. If she wins, it will be her first Olympic medal.

Nagasu attempted the jump again in Tuesday's short program, set to Chopin's Nocturne.

Karen Chen also had a slip in her program to finish with a scored of 65.90 and is in 10th place.

"I try not to think about that (competition between them) and I try to focus just on myself", Zagitova said.

"You win some and you lose some, and today isn't my day but I delivered when it counted for the team event and I am still going to live on that". The 23-year-old picked up silver at the 2017 world championships, breaking the Canadian record in the process. She attempted to put the triple toe onto her triple loop later in the program, put managed only a double toe. She scored a personal best. Kostner and Osmond finished 2-3 behind Medvedeva in the team event short program. Her speed, determination and gorgeus programs give her an edge. She was able to recover to complete her triple flip-triple toe combination and her triple loop and is now in 9th place with a score of 66.93. Her jumping ability combined with her artistry also earned her a season-best score.

"Evgenia and I are very good off the ice, but during the time on the ice and during competitions, I personally get this feeling of rivalry", Zagitova said. "If somebody had told me that two or three or even one year ago, I would have been very surprised".

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