HELSINKI: A performance full of grace and technical wizardry proved that Evgenia Medvedeva will be the woman to beat at next year’s Winter Olympics as the Russian soared above her rivals to win back-to-back titles at the world figure skating championships.
Friday’s triumph with a world record total of 233.41 points made her the first woman since American Michelle Kwan in 2001 to win successive world titles and enhanced her reputation as a skating phenomenon since she has now claimed 10 titles in a row.
No one came close to ending that run on Friday as she romped to victory by a margin of 15.28 points over Canadian Kaetlyn Osmond.
The 17-year-old Russian made it a clean sweep of world records on Friday as her free skate score of 154.40 was also an all-time best.
Osmond and her team mate Gabrielle Daleman earned their first world championship medals by finishing second and third respectively.
Osmond, who scored 218.13, and Daleman (213.52) produced the performances of their lives to earn Canada their first women’s medals at the worlds since Joannie Rochette won a silver in 2009.
But their skating skills were no match for the poise or artistry that Medvedeva brings to the ice.
Wearing a sparkling grey and pink dress, the Russian appeared to have grown wings as she floated through her free skate, beautifully executing all of her 11 jumps to the haunting melodies of the ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’ film soundtrack.
The balletic style of her jumps, where she twirls her arm above her head as she spins through the air, adds another dimension to the flawless presentation of her routines and she had fans purring as she opened with a soaring triple flip-triple toeloop combination.
The “oohs” and “ahhs” grew louder and louder before reaching ear-splitting levels as she whirled around in a blur for her final Biellman spin.
American Karen Chen was fourth while Japan’s Mai Mihara was left to wonder what might have been had she not messed up her short skate as she surged from 15th to fifth in the overall standings following an exquisite free skate on Friday.
Medvedeva’s team mate and 2016 bronze medallist Anna Pogorilaya, however, burst into tears after suffering a total meltdown.
She knelt on the ice and buried her head after three crash landings saw her drop from fourth to 13th.
(Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Ken Ferris)