Ice Network

Medvedeva continues dominant ways in Helsinki

Russian shatters previous records; Osmond wins silver; Chen lands fourth
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Stop us if you've heard this before: Evgenia Medvedeva set multiple records en route to claiming another gold medal. The Russian dynamo was once again brilliant, and by recording 154.40 points for her 'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close' free skate -- the highest score ever recorded in ladies skating -- as well as a new event record of 233.41 points, the 17-year-old was able to celebrate her second straight world championship. -Getty Images

Evgenia Medvedeva was the favorite to win what would be her second straight world title this week in Helsinki, and she surely did not disappoint. Not only did the 17-year-old deliver another perfect program, the talented Russian also topped the previous world scoring records for the ladies free skate and overall total.

Canada's Kaetlyn Osmond and Gabrielle Daleman won their first world medals by finishing second and third, respectively, while Team USA's Karen Chen rallied from fifth place after the short program to finish fourth overall following a strong free skate. Fellow American Ashley Wagner was not as successful, however, as she ended seventh in the final standings, right behind Italy's Carolina Kostner.

World records are not always meant to last, especially when someone as talented as Medvedeva is competing, and she raised the bar even higher this time around with a tremendous effort Friday evening.

By earning 154.40 points -- nearly four points more than her previous mark of 150.79 -- and 233.41 overall -- a score 3.70 points higher than the one she set two months ago at the European championships -- Medvedeva once again stamped her place as the top female skater in the sport of figure skating.

The Russian displayed her entire arsenal throughout Friday's free skate while also showcasing the reliability of her technique. She landed each one of her jumps, including two triple-triple combinations and three additional triples. Her three spins and steps received Level 4 grading, with superior Grades of Execution (GOEs) for each element. She skated with speed and found the time to live her program -- set to music from the Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close soundtrack -- until that last second, when she mimicked grabbing the telephone of her musical score right on time to answer the call on the other end.

"Unlike last year, I felt absolutely calm, not euphoric," the two-time defending champion said. "I wanted to cry out of happiness in the kiss and cry, but it didn't happen. I am absolutely thrilled. I skated really softly, and I am satisfied with my performance. I did everything I could do, and I felt relieved. I'll skate this program one last time at the (World) Team Trophy, but after that I will have to leave it, and I'll miss it, as I've been missing all my previous programs. You give a lot of yourself in a program."

Osmond delivered a near-perfect routine to Puccini's La Bohème, one that included superb triple flip-triple toe and double axel-triple toe combinations, as well as three additional triples. Her only mistake came when she doubled her planned triple loop. The Canadian topped her season's best by achieving 142.15 points and garnered 218.13 points overall.

"We worked a lot on stamina and mental focus after Four Continents, to progress toward the excellence of each element," Osmond said. "And it worked as we had planned."

Daleman took the ice immediately after Medvedeva was showered with applause and admiration following her dominant performance. By tuning out the noise, Daleman held on to her program from start to end, delivering each one of her elements with ease and her usual poise. She landed her opening triple toe-triple toe combination, a triple lutz-double toe-double toe and three more triples in her "Rhapsody in Blue" program. By amassing 141.33 points for her free skate, the Canadian surpassed her season's best by 12.67 points and earned 213.52 overall.

Prior to taking the ice, Daleman took the time to applaud Medvedeva's scores.

"Evgenia is such a beautiful skater," she said. "I saw that her score was so high, and the crowd lifted me up."

While it was remarkable to witness a record-setting performance, it was even more rewarding for both Osmond and Daleman to stand together on the world podium, the first time two Canadians shared the same stage at the world championships.

"It was such an incredible feeling to see two Canadian flags rising," Osmond said. "Skating is such an individual sport. Having a teammate on the podium was just incredible."

Chen came close to hitting 200+ points as she accrued an overall total of 199.29 points. She opened her "Tango Jalousie" free with a great triple lutz-triple toe and went on to land four more triples, as well as a double axel-triple salchow combination. She also fought hard throughout her program, quickly regrouping after a fall on her triple lutz. Most of her components were rated above 8.0 (with 8.25 for skating skills), quite a feat for a first trip to worlds.

"This was amazing," Chen admitted while smiling as she left the ice. "I came here with no expectations. I realized that it was the best way to focus on my job. That's when I stake best.

 "I paced (the music) myself and contributed to my choreography as well," she continued. "It means a lot to me that I was able to perform the program the way I did."

Japan's Mai Mihara created the first big surprise of the evening, as she executed a perfectly clean program to Patrick Doyle's Cinderella, which included seven triple jumps and beautiful spins. She garnered 138.29 points, a mark 3.95 points north of her previous season's best. The capacity crowd, including an incredible number of Japanese fans, erupted in applause as she ended her program.

Carolina Kostner didn't completely hit all her jumps (she popped her planned triple loop), but her program was certainly the most inspired of the evening. She had the best port de bras (upper body posture), and the Italian was the fastest and smoothest on the ice. She elected to skate to Vivaldi's rendering of "Nisi Dominus," keeping the attention of the audience as if they were at the ballet or opera. Kostner garnered 130.50 points for her free program as well as the third best component score of the night.  

Was Wagner's soft music tough enough for the fighting underdog role she tackles head on? The American had a rough skate -- as she had to stop her triple flip-triple toe combination in the middle -- and it was a miracle that she was able to regroup. Two of her subsequent triple jumps were deemed under-rotated, and she received 124.50 points for her free program and 193.54 points overall.

"I've skated stronger in practice than I've ever done. I am in the best shape I can be, but I didn't do my job," Wagner said upon leaving the ice. "I'm disappointed in myself. Mentally, I was not at the right place at all. I don't like going into the program without landing the flip-toe in the warm-up. I was not in the ice, and I fought hard throughout. Actually, my 10 years of experience is the only reason why that program didn't fall apart after the flip-toe."

Mariah Bell proved that she belonged on the world stage as well, after delivering a powerful, yet delicate program to Lee Holdridge's East of Eden. The rough landing of her opening triple lutz forced her to postpone her planned triple toe and to combine it with her double axel. She landed a triple flip-single loop-double salchow combination and a triple lutz-double toe. Her only mistake came on the landing of her double axel. Bell received 126.21 points for her free and ended a very respectable 12th at her first world championships.

"I train for any kind of situation," Bell said. "My coach always tells me to finish the program, meaning that I should replace all my elements one way or another, which helps me in competition. Today was not my best skate, but I'm really proud of it.

"It's exciting to leave this as the last mark on this season. This was my longest season, with many high-pressure events. I was so nervous this week, as my practices were not so good. Fortunately, my music is so calming and smooth, so I can really emote to it."

Anna Pogorilaya, who was fourth after the short program, skated what was probably the worst program of her career. In her free skate, she was only able to land one triple lutz, a triple loop and a final double axel-triple salchow combination.