Ice Network

Medvedeva outclasses loaded ladies field for title

Miyahara rallies to silver; Radionova wins bronze; Wagner jumps to fourth
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One year after winning the Junior Grand Prix Final, Evgenia Medvedeva cruised to the title at the Grand Prix Final, taking gold by more than 13 points. The Russian skater's 147.96 free skate points easily topped her previous personal best, and she came away with a total of 222.54, also a personal best. -Getty Images

Watching Russia's Evgenia Medvedeva skate this week, many could have predicted that she would win the 2015 Grand Prix Final, but few could have imagined that she would do it in such a decisive way. Medvedeva took gold by a 13.69-point margin, topping Japan's Satoko Miyahara, who skated flawlessly, and Russia's Elena Radionova, who finished third.

Team USA's Ashley Wagner skated the third-best free skate of the evening to take fourth place, finishing only 1.32 points off the podium. Gracie Gold maintained her fifth-place standing after the short program.

Skating to music from the W.E. soundtrack, Medvedeva's routine was textbook perfect. She followed her roadmap jump after jump, and step after step. Her program featured seven triple jumps, including two triple-triple combinations and two Level 4 spins.

"I'm very pleased with my skate today. Winning the Grand Prix Final is really unexpectected, especially since it's my first year in seniors," she said. "The main difference I see (from last year) is the attention I got this year. I got a great ovation from the crowd. As I said yesterday, we worked a lot on choreography with my coach and choreographer, especially on the steps, and I will continue to make this program even better."

Medvedeva received 147.96 points for her free and the best components of the competition, from 8.93 for choreography to 9.29 for performance. She amassed 222.54 points overall.

Miyahara also unfolded her program as perfectly as she had planned. Just like Medvedeva, she received positive Grades of Execution (GOEs) for each of her elements, including seven triple jumps and three Level 4 spins. She scored 140.09 points for her free (also her season's-best score) and 208.85 overall.

"I never thought I could get more than 140 points for my free program," she said with a big smile. "I'm very satisfied with my performance! I try to do a lot of run-throughs with the music and repeat that every single day. I carried the confidence I got at NHK (Trophy) into this competition."

Miyahara skated to Franz Liszt's "Un Sospiro."

"When we first created this program, we set the theme as first love," she explained. "As I started skating this program over and over, I started to use that idea and I felt I was expressing my love toward skating. Now that feeling makes me perform that program more elegantly."

Just like she did during the short program, Radionova had to change the placement of her jump combination, as she landed her opening triple lutz too low to launch the subsequent triple toe. She added it 30 seconds later, to her second triple lutz. She landed all her jumps, with the notable exception of a triple loop, which she fell on.

Her technical score was unusually low for her (64.14 points), but her components remained up to par (68.56 points). She garnered 131.70 points for her free skate (the fifth best of the evening) and 201.13 overall.

"I don't feel very well, as I had some mistakes. This can happen, but I'll work to correct them," she said. "This year, I have grown seven centimeters (almost three inches). But it has more positive sides to it than negative: It leads me to be the skater who I am now."

She managed to stay on the podium by 1.32 points over Wagner.

Wagner was an epic poem unto herself. How could anyone pull up so close coming into the free 9.09 points off the podium? Wagner made a huge comeback, catching back nearly eight points in her free.

Tonight it could have certainly been "the show must go on," as the lyrics to the third part of her free skate go, as rough as her short program had been. Instead it was, "One day I'll fly away," the lyrics of the second part of her program. And that day was Saturday.

Wagner delivered a most beautiful program to music from the Moulin Rouge! soundtrack. The sellout crowd erupted in applause each time she landed a jump, showing how well she was able to create a dramatic setting for each one. Her triple flip-triple toe was light and fast, and she earned a 1.20 GOE for it. She only under-rotated the triple salchow that followed her triple loop. Her free was the third best of the evening, only 0.32 points behind Miyahara's.

"To top my personal best by eight-plus points shows I'm an improved athlete, even from October at Skate Canada," Wagner said. "But there's a long road ahead because I can't afford to have a horrific program and then do OK. You can't be a long or a short program skater. You need to be the whole package."

Gold had a rough evening. She had to put a hand on the ice on the landing of her opening triple lutz-triple toe, and she needed two hands on the ice for her double axel-triple toe combination, which she had to stop. She popped her triple flip and two-footed her triple lutz.

"It's a good program, but a program is only as good as a skater is," Gold said. "We'll have to reevaluate the jump content of my program. Consistency is really lacking, which it shouldn't be at this stage of the season. My goal was to win. Now I'll be looking for a medal at worlds."

She earned 128.27 points for her program to finish with 194.79 overall.

Mao Asada could not stand up to the task of her ambitious technical content. She tumbled on her triple axel, then doubled the flip of her combination. She only regrouped in the second half of her program, with an all-too-rare triple flip-double loop-double loop combination and two more triples.

Skating in light purple to Puccini's dramatic Madame Butterfly, Asada has nonetheless learned to fill space by her presence, if not by her jumps. Tonight the latter was missing, but she gave a lesson in theatrics on the ice.