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Watch women's individual free skate online
23 February 2018, 02:16 | Frank Carlson
It's Evgenia Medvedeva and Alina Zagitova, then a race for the bronze medal
The 18-year-old had a ideal season and hadn't lost an event since 2015. One of them is all but sure to win the first gold medal of these Games for the Russian athletes.
In her enforced absence, Zagitova had stolen the skating spotlight, and on this form she may well do so again as she attempts to become the second-youngest ladies' Olympic skate champion behind American Tara Lipinski, who won the 1998 gold medal aged 15 years, eight months and 10 days.
The short program Wednesday reminded skating followers just how quickly fortunes can change in this sport. She's the top-ranked US woman headed into the free skate.
Sakamoto displayed her incredible fortitude with a fine skate to "Moonlight Sonata".
Alina Zagitova took the lead in women's Olympic singles figure skating with a world record short skate on Wednesday, giving her a strong chance of becoming the first Olympic Athlete from Russian Federation to win gold in Pyeongchang.
"I think it's very obvious that I have the most hard program in the world", she said. The 31-year-old is twice Zagitova's age and is competing in her fourth Winter Olympics.
Zagitova's world record feat was all the more remarkable given she had watched Medvedeva a few minutes earlier breaking the record she had set last week in the team event, with a score of 81.61. Medvedeva delivered an outstanding performance that included a triple flip-triple toe combination, a triple loop and double axel. Each skater in the top five after the short program set a personal best score and tallied between 73 and 82 points.
Though she was in the lead most of the event, Bradie Tennell ended up losing her top spot in the second half of the program.
"We were nervous for (Medvedeva)", Russian ice dancer Ekaterina Bobrova said.
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While Zagitova has shown why a Gold medal would be well deserved, it would be a heartbreaking loss for Medvedeva, who has laser-focused on these Olympics.
Medvedeva and Zagitova will compete against Canada's Kaetlyn Osmond, who placed third, and a field of 21 other competitors Friday in the women's free skate. But Zagitova actually remained nameless for nearly a year until one day, her parents saw Kabayeva performing on TV and the decision was made.
"It means so much". It happened in the team event and I know I can do it. She has already distinguished herself at this year's team event by becoming the first American woman to land a triple axel at the Olympics.
"I strongly wanted to do well today", said Miyahara. "I will learn from today and head into the free skate".
"I don't think it was my best, I can be better". It was not so bad for me. It was very special and on this dynamic stage I am happy to skate here.
For more in-depth coverage of the ladies' short program, check out Olympic Ice featuring analysts Kristi Yamaguchi, Charlie White and Ben Agosto. Despite not skiing all season, the three-time overall World Cup champion posted the fastest time in the seeding round. Despite her characteristic consistency, Tennell fell on her opening triple-triple combination.
"Undefeatable", volunteered Mirai Nagasu, a two-time U.S. Olympian. She scored a 65.90 and is in 10th place behind Nagasu. Her jumping ability combined with her artistry also earned her a season-best score.
"It's not that I want to get out on the ice to prove anything, I just want to skate cleanly", Zagitova said.
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