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Medvedeva sets new world record in short program

Russian eclipses mark previously held by Mao Asada en route to top spot
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2015 Grand Prix Final champion Evgenia Medvedeva put herself in position for another gold medal with a strong showing throughout her Lorenzo de Luca and Balmorhea short program. The 17-year-old Russian also set a new world record-score by totaling 79.21 points, which surpassed the mark previously held by Japan's Mao Asada. -Getty Images

2016 world champion Evgenia Medvedeva not only won the short program at the 2016 Grand Prix Final in Marseille on Friday night but she also beat Mao Asada's world record score in the process, posting a mark of 79.21 in the segment. Canada's Kaetlyn Osmond stands in second place entering the free with a total of 75.54 points, while Japan's Satoko Miyahara is a close third with 74.64.

Medvedeva skated last, and took the arena by storm. The talented Russian landed a triple flip-triple toe, which added 12.26 points to her tally and served as the highest-scoring element of the night. Her other elements, including a triple loop, double axel, three spins and step sequence, were all done without the slightest hint of imperfection.

Medvedeva employs a strategy that most skaters do not: She places her jumps in the second half of her program, which gives her additional credit when it is, perhaps, needed most.

"My performance was good," she admitted (something she seldom acknowledges). "But I can do better. I think I can improve my interpretation, and my spins. I would like to spin faster than I do, but I'm so happy with the world record. I was aware of that record after I skated in Paris because I heard that I had skated close to it. The world record is not my goal, however. My goal is to have a good skate and to have fun."

Osmond also delivered a perfect program with solid Grades of Execution.

"I'm really happy to be able to skate this program clean again," Osmond said at the post-event conference. "My new season's best makes me really happy."

Osmond elected to skate to Édith Piaf's most famous songs, "Sous le Ciel de Paris" ("Under Paris Skies") and "Milord," both of which are crowd pleasers -- especially in France. She managed to give life to her music and interpreted her character with great poise.

"This program is super enjoyable and super fun," she noted. "I chose the music because I loved it, but it was more fun to skate it here, in France. I feel I could become the character of this program. Actually, getting into that character gives me confidence. Interpretation is really the part of skating I prefer, I must say."

Miyahara, who was dressed in a sparkling light green outfit, delivered a perfect and exquisite routine while skating to Giacomo Puccini's "Musetta's Waltz." Much like Medvedeva, Miyahara landed her triple lutz-triple toe in the second half of her program, and beat her season's best by 4.55 points.

"I beat my season's best, but I'm not too satisfied," she admitted at the post-event press conference in her usual humble manner. "I'd like to skate with more speed. I'd rather have some simple steps but skate them faster. I had two tasks tonight: have more speed and have a smiling face."

She certainly succeeded in both.

Russia's Anna Pogorilaya hurt herself stepping onto the ice Friday, but she still managed to concentrate on her program, which included a triple lutz-triple toe combination. She stumbled on the landing of her triple loop but received 73.29 points for her free program.

"My entrance on the ice was pretty funny," she said with a chuckle. "If anyone in the audience was bored, I definitely woke them up."

Pogorilaya has learned to use her height to her advantage, since it enables her to gain speed, amplitude and overall presence on the ice. Her components were the third highest of the evening.

Pogorilaya's teammate, Elena Radionova, skated a powerful routine to George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, which included a triple lutz-triple toe combination. She had rough landings on her triple loop, on which she nearly put a hand on the ice, and the double axel, but she came out of those with an understanding of what she needs to correct.

"I feel fine," she noted. "I don't know what happened in the program. If I'm honest, I'm not very satisfied with how I skated."

Radionova has improved her posture on the ice, but her speed remains quite slow compared to most of her competitors. She scored 68.98 points and stands 5.66 points off the podium.

Maria Sotskova landed each one of her jumps as well, but her flip and double axel were evaluated as under-rotated, which cost her 5-6 points. She scored 65.74 points and stands in sixth entering the free skate.

"I'm pleased with my performance, although I'm not completely satisfied with my marks," Sotskova said. "Still, I'm very happy to be here."

Sotskova seemed to express herself with her arms more than many others, aiming to remain connected with the theme of her short program, which is set to Alfred Schnittke's "Butterflies Are Free."

"I came into this program with a positive attitude, and I felt like a free butterfly during the skate."