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Medvedeva triumphs once again at Grand Prix Final

Japan's Miyahara secures silver medal; Russia's Pogorilaya wins bronze
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Evgenia Medvedeva repeated as Grand Prix Final champion, joining Mao Asada, Yu-Na Kim, Irina Slutskaya and Tara Lipniski as the only women to accomplish that feat. The reigning world champion from Russia secured 148.45 points in the free for her heartrending 'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close' routine and ended up with a personal-best score of 227.66 -- less than a point shy of Kim's all-time record. -Getty Images

Evgenia Medvedeva won her second straight Grand Prix Final after accruing 148.45 points for her free program and 227.66 points overall. Battling absolutely outstanding competition from start to finish, the talented Russian held off Japan's Satoko Miyahara, who finished with 218.33 points overall, and fellow Russian Anna Pogorilaya, who ended her trip to Marseille in third place with a total of 216.37 points.

Of the six skaters in competition, only one fell during their routine, all elements were rated Level 4, and five competitors topped their season's best by delivering unique, quality performances.

Medvedeva skated to the "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" soundtrack, and was smooth throughout. The defending champion didn't give her competitors a chance to catch her on the scoreboard, although her program did begin in a rather awkward manner after she tumbled on her opening triple flip. Despite the brief mishap, the talented Russian stayed the course and landed a triple lutz and triple loop, and replaced the missed triple toe in her combination after her subsequent triple flip.

Medvedeva was not only flexible on the ice, but she also proved to be strong in mind and body. She landed her double axel combo and her triple salchow-triple toe without any difficulties, and ended her last layback spin right on time.

"I expected more from myself," she said after departing the Kiss and Cry. "I wanted to do more and I could have done more. The mistake on the triple flip was hard to overlook because I missed that first jump and the combination for the first time, but there is always a back-up plan. I had to move the combination to the second half and I did it well, so I'm happy about that."

Miyahara skated to Gustav Holst's "The Planets," opening her routine with a triple loop full of energy while also nailing her triple lutz-triple toe, a triple flip and two combinations (a ripple lutz-double toe-double loop and a double axel-triple toe) with strength and ease. The crowd rose at once -- as did hundreds of Japanese flags, to shower her with a standing ovation.

"I am very happy today," Miyahara said. "The flip was not my best, but that was the only so-so part of my program."

Pogorilaya also skated perfectly to Guy Farley's "Modigliani Suite," Estrella Morente's "Le Di a la Caza Alcance" and Michael Nyman's "Memorial Requiem." She landed her triple lutz-triple toe and triple flip, a spectacular triple lutz-triple salchow combination, and a triple loop-double toe.

The Russian has always been known for her jumps and the solidity of her nerves. She landed each element and received the second highest technical score of the evening with 73.52 points.

"I'm so grateful to everyone that cheered for me and lived it with me," Pogorilaya offered at the end of her routine. "I'm really pleased by the performance as a whole, but there were still a few mistakes. There is little time between the Grand Prix Final and Nationals, so we need to relax a bit, catch our breath, and then start training again."

Canada's Kaetlyn Osmond had to fight to maintain her stamina until the end of her program while skating to Giacomo Puccini's "La Bohème." The Canadian landed a triple flip-triple toe and a double axel-double toe, but simplified her three-jump combination and doubled the planned triple salchow. The first half of Osmond's program was simply outstanding, as it was skated at high speed while she rotated her spins with the highest velocity of all the competitors.

Though she dropped from second to fourth, Osmond amassed 136.91 points for her free program and 212.45 points overall to top her personal best.

"I went out there and had a couple of things in mind that I wanted to do, and I did them," the Canadian said. "Of course it wasn't perfect. I made some silly mistakes, which I don't usually make, but doing the loop -- which I don't usually land -- put the cherry on top of a great skate. Now I just need to improve. I just need to be able to put it all together."

Russia's Maria Sotskova also had a perfect skate and ended her visit to France in fifth place, mainly due to her low component scores. The choreography of her program, set to Alfred Schnittke's "Adagio," emphasized her long body lines and arm movements. Even her most difficult jumps -- an opening triple lutz-triple toe combination, a subsequent triple flip and loop, and her triple flip-triple salchow combination -- seemed as light as the whisper of Schnittke's music.

"This was my little Olympics and I feel like I won it today," she said with a smile. "I wasn't even nervous. I loved it, my coach loved it, and I hope everyone watching loved it too. I came here to show clean skating and to show the judges I can compete for the top places and the top marks."

Elena Radionova skated to Giacomo Puccini's "Turandot" and the famous "Nessun Dorma." She started in a very unusual way as well, by falling on the triple lutz in her opening combination, which served as the only fall of the evening among the six skaters.

She rapidly regrouped, however, and landed a triple flip, replacing the missed triple toe of her combination after the second triple lutz.

"These things happen," Radionova explained. "It's not ideal to fall on the first jump. It's a shame. I've grown a lot and that's created some problems."