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2017 World Championships: Ladies Free Skate

Evgenia Medvedeva Wins with New World Record

by Klaus Reinhold Kany

(30 March 2017)  During the Ladies Free Program at the 2017 World Championships, the Hartwall Arena was sold out with almost 11,000 spectators, around 5,000 of them from Japan. The level of the competition was mixed, there were relatively many mistakes. A big exception was the old and new World Champion Evgenia Medvedeva from Russia who won with two outstanding performances and a new world record of 233.41 points. In her program to the music "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close“, all her seven triples, four doubles, spins and step sequences were excellent and skated with ease. GOEs of +2 dominated, but nine of the 12 elements had at least one +3. The 17-year-old skater used a lot of mimicry to underline the sad story of her program about a friend who is killed during a terror attack. Her components were around 9.5 and included two 10.0 for performance from the Norwegian and Austrian judges.

Later she said: "Last year, everything was absolutely new for me. Now this year, I already knew where I am and how these major events are going on. My emotions were different. The most important thing to me was that I wanted to show what I learned over the whole season and the progress and steps forward I have made. I think today I did my job well. I really hope it’s not the last time I get to skate this program, because hopefully I’ll be at the World Team Trophy. I hope that all work that we’re inputting every day brings a benefit to the country. We just should support each other. I know from my own experience what big role support plays. Right now I don’t have the goal to do high risk jumps. But the plan exists. Figure skating should move forward and you should do something new. I think I will try a quad, most likely the Salchow. But I did not do a quad Salchow in training or in competition yet.“

It was a very good day for Canada because their ladies won two medals, which had never happened before at Worlds. Kaetlyn Osmond of Edmonton took silver, earning 218.13 points. In her free program six triple jumps were very high and impressive, only the loop was double. Because of her sparkle to the opera music "La Bohème“ her components reached 9.0. "It was such incredible feeling to be able to stand on the podium,“ ths student of Ravi Walia commented. "To see one Canadian flag to be raised is one thing, but to see two, it just makes me feel not alone. I just took everything I learned over the whole season in my long program and finally put it together. Mainly we mentally focused on remembering to stay in the moment.“

Gabrielle Daleman, who trains with Lee Barkell and Brian Orser in Toronto, won a surprising bronze medal with 213.52 points after being 21st and 9th at the last two World champonships. All her seven triple jumps were excellent, the combination of truple toe loop and triple toe loop even had eight GOEs of +3 and she only stepped out of the second double Axel in a sequence with the triple Salchow. She skated to "Rhapsody in Blue“ by George Gershwin and her components had an average of 8.7.

She explained: "I have an amazing team and my family is here. I skated with so much love and heart and just pulled it off. I think that with not only one but 2 Canadian medals in the ladies it’s really going to push women’s skating in Canada much further. It was actually this Wednesday last week when I had my coaches and my training partners Dylan (Moscovitch) and Javier (Fernandez) sitting with me in the changing room and everyone just told me like ‘you need to know you’re capable of medaling and being so much better than you are.‘“

U.S. champion Karen Chen of Riverside, California, finished on fourth position with 199.29 points. After a very good combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop in the free program, her triple flip was clean as well. Three more triple jumps were good. But later she fell on an under-rotated triple Lutz and stepped out of the second double Axel. She skated to the Tango "Jalousie“ and her components were around 8.0. She commented: "Obviously I made a mistake on the (second triple) Lutz and last (double) Axel but I was happy with how the rest of the program came together. I did think about the three spots for the Olympics and next year’s Worlds because all of our media made it such a big deal. And it is such a big deal that we bring back 3 spots. It is my first time here and I wanted to really enjoy the moment. So I did my best to block it out and focus on doing what I came here to do.“

Mai Mihara was the best of the three Japanese ladies and moved up from 15th to fifth place with a clean free program with seven triples, winning 197.88 points. Carolina Kostner from Italy finished on sixth position with 196.83 points. She performed only five triple jumps, no Lutz and popped the second triple loop, but excelled by her style and sparkle.

The 2016 Worlds silver medal winner Ashley Wagner ended up 7th with 193.54 points. Only three of her triple jumps were clean, two more under-rotated and she got an edge call on the Lutz. The other elements were good, but nothing exellent. She said: "The program itself really was not good - it was not my day. I came here very prepared, skating the best I've ever skated which is frustrating because I am in the best shape of my life and to put out that performance is disappointing. The Finnish crowd is incredible and I am very grateful for their support.“

The third American Mariah Bell is 12th with 187.23 points. All six triple jumps in the free were good, but her components lower than those of of the top skaters. She commented: "I had so much fun. The best thing I can take away is the experience and I'm so glad I've had this before the Olympic season.“ 2016 Worlds bronze medalist Anna Pogorilaya from Russia had a bad day and dropped from 4th to 13th place after many mistakes.

24 of the 30 ladies country spots for the Olympic Games were fixed in Helsinki. Russia gets three spots (placements 1 and 8) and Canada as well (placements 2 and 3). Thanks to the fourth and seventh place of Karen Chen and Ashley Wagner (who have not more than 13 placement points), the USA also won three spots. Japan has only two, because the placements 5 and 11 are more than 13. Other countries with two spots are Italy, Kazakhstan and South Korea. One spot is reserved for China, Belgium, Slovakia, France, Germany, Hungary and Latvia. All other countries without any spot may send a lady to the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany in September and try to get one of the six remaining spots.