Ice Network

Medvedeva runs away with Skate Canada gold

Osmond takes silver with personal-best free; Miyahara rallies for bronze
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Evgenia Medvedeva was her typically brilliant self Saturday, with all but one of her elements in her 'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close' free skate earning a positive Grade of Execution. The Russian world champion bested the competition by 14 points to take the gold medal, the third of her career in the Grand Prix Series. -Getty Images

Evgenia Medvedeva outclassed the rest of the ladies field at 2016 Skate Canada on Saturday, winning the free skate by more than 12 points over Canada's Kaetlyn Osmond to notch her fourth international win in a row.          

The 16-year-old reigning world champion has now won six of her last seven international events, having not tasted defeat since the Rostelecom Cup last season.

The scariest part is that Medvedeva wasn't even at her best in Mississauga, suffering from a heavy cold that prompted her to wear a surgical mask while not skating or talking to the press. She was also just a week and a half into breaking in new boots she had gotten after the Japan Open earlier in October.

The Russian teen combined big, consistent jumps with sensitivity and elegance in her free skate to music from the Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close soundtrack, choreographed by former world ice dance champion Ilya Averbukh. She hit a big opening triple flip-triple toe loop combination and gained Level 4's for her three spins and her step sequence. A few of her jumps, including an under-rotated double axel done late in the program, were imperfect, but these were very minor blemishes.

"My performance isn't good for me, because I made mistakes on my two last jumps, and I will work harder," Medvedeva said. "But I'm so happy because I am first today."

With her programs this season, Medvedeva cements her reputation as one of the sport's best storytellers. In her short, she played a child encountering the wonder and challenges of growing up; in her free skate, she is a young woman who gets tragic news about a loved one's death in an accident.

"I shut out everything around me, try to remember him, try to remember how much I love him," Medvedeva said through an interpreter. "Then the phone rings, and I get the news he is never coming home again. It's about how you have to appreciate each moment with the people you love."

Osmond came close to losing something she dearly loves: her skating career. She sat out the entire 2014-15 season while recovering from surgery to repair a broken leg and had competitive disappointments last season, placing third in Canada behind Alaine Chartrand and Gabrielle Daleman.

"Last year was a big eye-opener for me, and something that got me back in gear and realizing that I need to train harder, and that is exactly what I've been doing in the past year," Osmond said. "I've been making every single practice count and not taking anything for granted."

Osmond opened her free skate to music from La bohème with a strong triple flip-triple toe combination, followed by three other clean triples. Although she fell on an under-rotated triple loop and made several smaller mistakes, she never gave up on the performance, and she earned 132.12 points, a new personal best. She won silver with 206.45 points.

"I think it's important that every day you train your program exactly as if you are in a competition," said Ravi Walia, who coaches Osmond in Edmonton, Calgary. "If there is an error, she gets right back into the performance right away. That has to be trained.

"She's definitely very powerful, and we work to contain her strength, and also her excitement, so that things are calmer and more compact in her jumps."

Japan's Satoko Miyahara, fifth in the world last season, rose from third after the short program to win the bronze medal after a delivering a delicate, highly detailed performance to Gustav Holst's "The Planets" that included a triple lutz-triple toe combination. Two other triples, a lutz and salchow, were judged under-rotated, however, and Miyahara also failed to gain credit for her step sequence. She scored 126.84 points in the free to finish with 192.08 overall.

"It was not my best, but I [skated] with strong feeling, so I think it was good," Miyahara said.

"In practice, I am better in my jumps, but when I get nervous or take things too seriously, my jumps get worse," she added. "That is a point I have to work on."

2015 world champion Elizaveta Tuktamisheva dropped from third place after the short to fourth overall after failing to complete a triple-triple combination and popping an intended double axel into a single.

It was another disappointing performance for Mirai Nagasu, who sat ninth after Friday's short program. The U.S. skater had trouble with many of her jumps, and placed 11th in the free skate and ninth overall with 151.42 points.

"I feel like I really trained better than I ever have, and to skate like I haven't been training is really disappointing," Nagasu said. "I can't wait to go home and dissect this one, one piece at a time."