Ice Network

Medvedeva opens up lead with perfect performance

Canada's Osmond, Daleman sit second, third; Chen strong in worlds debut
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Evgenia Medvedeva's enactment of her short program Wednesday was quiet and subtle and, above all, perfect. The reigning world champion, who hasn't lost a competition since the 2015 Rostelecom Cup, earned a segment score of 79.01 to take a three-point lead over the field. -Getty Images

Russia's Evgenia Medvedeva didn't let any of her competitors contest her status as the No. 1 one skater in the world, as she won the short program at the 2017 World Figure Skating Championships with 79.01 points, just 0.2 shy of her own world record.

Canada's Kaetlyn Osmond amassed 75.98 points, a personal best, and stands in second place. Her teammate, Gabrielle Daleman, garnered 72.19 points, the third-best score of the afternoon. U.S. champion Karen Chen delivered a perfect program that earned 69.98 points. Ashley Wagner stands in seventh with a score of 69.04, about three points off the podium.

Medvedeva skated first in the seventh and final group. As soon as she started her routine, the rink came to a hush to watch her unfold the story she was telling. She now belongs to that category of champions that make their audience feel that nothing bad can ever happen to them, so in control of her sport and art she is.

Medvedeva has also kept the habit of landing all her jumps in the second half of her program, to earn extra credit. She landed her triple flip-triple toe combination at the 1:21 mark and followed with a triple loop and double axel -- all done perfectly. All but one of her Grades of Execution (GOEs) was lower than +1, even that of her three Level 4 spins and step sequence.

"[Skating my elements in the second half of the program] is something we have done for several seasons now," she explained. "At first it was a bit hard physically, but you can get used to anything!"

The audience rose to its feet as soon as Medvedeva ended her program and gave her a standing ovation. Not only did the reigning world champion deliver perfection but she had fun doing it.

"I really enjoyed performing today," she admitted afterward. "The most important thing for me is to have the right focus. Physically, we're well trained. But we also need to be focused emotionally -- that is, to control my emotions."

If you were to measure the distance of the skaters' jumps between take-off and landing, Osmond would undoubtedly come out in first place. Skating to Édith Piaf's "Sous le Ciel de Paris" ("Under the sky of Paris"), Osmond landed her opening triple lutz-triple toe combination as well as her subsequent triple lutz and double axel, all with her usual powerful and -- yet -- balletic style. She also earned Level 4 for her four other technical elements.

"All the work we did allowed me to be able to do the short program I did today," a radiant Osmond offered as she left the ice. "I accomplished everything I wanted to achieve: give my absolute best technically and enjoy competition!"

Daleman created a sensation as she skated a perfect and upbeat program to Jules Massenet's epical Herodiade, which included a soaring triple toe-triple toe combination and triple lutz.

"I'm not really surprised by my marks, but I'm so thrilled to be skating here. It's such a privilege!" Daleman exclaimed.

Daleman's confidence has increased tremendously in the last two seasons.

"We've been working a lot with my sports psychologist and mental coach, every single day, focusing on me and my love of the sport," she said. "You know, I never really trusted myself, so my team helped me realize how good a skater I could be. I think that I'm proving they are right!"

Russia's Anna Pogorilaya landed in fourth place, garnering 71.52 points. She skated almost perfect, and her components were the third best of the event (34.31 points, compared to Daleman's 33.00 points), but GOEs made the difference. Pogorilaya sits just 0.67 points off the podium.

Chen didn't let herself down on the big stage. Skating to Dave Grusin's On Golden Pond, she landed her triple lutz-triple toe combo and followed it with a triple loop and double axel, both in the second half of her program, and garnered 69.98 points.

"I stayed really focused and took one element at a time," the 17-year-old said. "I felt a little bit nervous, but it was so great to be here! I do feel much better after skating a good short program."

On this day, none of Wagner's jumps were downgraded or under-rotated. Her triple flip-triple toe combination was rewarded with positive (yet quite low) GOEs as were her two other jumps, triple loop and double axel.

"I am extremely satisfied with what I put up tonight," Wagner said. "I'm one of the many 69-plus point girls of the afternoon. Seeing so many 69s in a ladies event must be historic. This has been an awesome ladies night!"

Wagner was certainly the biggest hit of the event. She was applauded as a star (which she is) as soon as she stepped onto the ice and rallied the whole audience throughout her program to Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)." She entered into her last step sequence a little late but managed to use the tempo of her music to catch it back.

"Everyone loves that program -- the music is so much fun!" she said laughing. "As for me, I only do what my music asks me to do."

Less than a point separates Chen, sixth-place finisher Maria Sotskova of Russia (69.76 points) and Wagner (69.04).

"I am in fighting distance," Wagner said. "I always do better in fighting position. My score sets me (up) for a great long program."

Mariah Bell delivered her routine to the Chicago soundtrack with determination and poise. She fought to land her opening triple lutz-triple toe combination, almost falling on the second jump, but the rest of her program, including a triple flip and double axel, was perfect and lively throughout. She garnered 61.02 points, 0.24 short of her season's best.

"I'm so proud of that debut," she said. "I always wanted to be on that a stage...it's so cool! I was so in the mindset of fighting for it that there was no way for me to fall on [the combination]."

Italy's icon Carolina Kostner returned to worlds after a three-year hiatus. Her short program was far from the level she showed at the European championships: Her opening triple toe-triple toe was clean, but she struggled with her triple flip and double axel, and nearly missed one of her spins. She earned 66.34 points and finds herself in eighth place.