by Klaus Reinhold Kany
(30 March 2017) The short program of the 37 ladies was the first event of the 2017 World Championships in the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, 24 of whom reached the final. About 8,000 spectators followed the event, the majority of them were Japanese spectators. The competition had very a high level because many ladies did a clean program with triple-triple combinations.
As expected, the reigning world champion Evgenia Medvedeva took the lead, this time with 79.01 points. All her seven elements were excellent, including an outstanding combination of triple flip and triple toe loop which got five GOEs of +3 and four GOEs of +2. All three jumping elements were in the second half of the program. The four level elements all had level 4. She skated to the music of "River Flows in You" with a lot of mimicry and expression and her components had an average of 9.2, with one perfect 10.0 for performance from the Austrian judge.
She commented: "Today really I enjoyed my skating. I really feel confident here, the arena is so bright and the ice is so soft. I am very happy with marks, itís a good score. The most important thing for me is to have the right focus, not only physically but also emotionally and to keep the emotions under control. I never think about these expectations that others might have. I might it feel a little bit sometimes, but what I feel more is the support that I get of all the people around me. I have lots of close people who support me and I think this is the most important thing in life. You feel that this championship is very important, because it decides about the spots for the Olympic Games I really hope that the Russian team will fulfill the goal of getting three spots for the Olympic Games 2018. I will do my best to assure that." She was also asked which expressive skater from the past is her favorite and said: "I canít name anyone from the past. But I would like to point out Ashley Wagner. She is able to portray any kind of character in the program on the ice. She can be lyrical and she can also be totally different."
Kaetlyn Osmond from Canada sits on second position, earning 75.98 points. She excelled by very high jumps and a very convincing presentation. All three jumping elements had some GOEs of +3, she performed a triple Lutz instead of a triple loop like Medvedeva and like her she had four time level 4 on her spins and step sequence. She interpreted two French songs of Edith Piaf and had components around 8.7.
Later she said: "It feels incredible, I started off my season in Finland and it started off a great season and to be able to finish my season here feels equally fantastic. The audience was so super excited about skating which makes me more excited to perform my programs and so to be able to do a program like that here at Worlds was a dream. I worked a lot on my technique. I really just began being a lot more confident on ice and enjoying every moment."
The second Canadian Gabrielle Daleman is on a surprising third position with 72.19 points. For her outstanding combination of triple toe loop and triple toe loop she got eight GOEs of +3, the other elements had a lot of plus points as well and she interpreted Jules Massenetís Herodiade. Her components were around 8.3. She said: "I am very happy with my performance. The audience was very supportive and I just really wanted to enjoy the moment. Before the skate I am in my own bubble and do not see who is skating before me. I focus on what I have to do and take one element at a time exactly as I do in training. The Four Continents really boosted my confidence and I am so happy to be here at this great competition and to be able to show my best and I want to enjoy every minute."
The second Russian skater Anna Pogorilaya is fourth after the short program with 71.52 points. Here jumps were not that excellent, the combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop was good, the triple loop a bit tight, but her step sequence excellent. "I am satisfied with my performance, but there is no limit to perfection," she commented. "You always can do better."
U.S. champion Karen Chen from Riverside, California, is the best of the three Americans, sitting in fifth position with 69.98 points. She performed a flawless program with a good combination of triple Lutz, a very good triple loop and excellent spins. She skated to "On Golden Pond" by Dave Grusin and received components with an average of 7.9. "Iím really happy with what I did out there; itís always been a dream of mine to be here at Worlds," she said. "Four Continents was a wake-up call for me and helped me learn how to deal with pressure and prepare mentally for this competition. I was nervous today, but really went for it in the short program."
The third Russian skater Maria Sotskova is sixth, winning 69.76 points. All her elements were clean, but not outstanding. She skated to "Butterflies are Free" by Alfred Schnittke and said: "I felt nervous of course because it's my debut at the worlds senior championships. But I wanted to do my best, to prove that I am not junior anymore, that I can compete with seniors on the same level. And I think that I do it better and better from one competition to the next. Unfortunately, I had a mistake here, I tripped just before the (triple) flip, so I had refocus immediately."
Ashley Wagner, silver medal winner at the 2016 World Championships in Boston, is seventh at the moment, earning 69.04 points. All her elements were clean, including a combination of triple flip and triple toe loop, but nothing was really excellent. She commented: "At first I saw my placement (5th at the time) and was confused. Then I saw everyone point wise is so close together. Three Olympic spots for the U.S. ladies is my main focus but, beyond that, putting out solid performances which I'm happy with so far. I have to be very technically strong but emotional, and that's what I have over the other competitors." Carolina Kostner from Italy is eighth with 66.33 points after doing a mistake on the flying combination spin.
The third American Mariah Bell sits 13th with 61.02 points. In her combination she touched down her hand on the triple toe loop after the triple Lutz, Her other elements were clean. She said: "That performance was so exciting because Iíve always wanted to be on the big stage of the world championships. Iím taking it all in; itís an amazing experience. The fight for the landing on the triple Lutz - triple toe shows that Iím trained. Rafael Arutunian is the hardest coach Iíve ever had because he sees something really great in me and that gives me confidence."