Gangneung (South Korea) (AFP) – Evgenia Medvedeva may have conjured up a personal best score on her Olympic bow on Sunday but the Russian ice princess proved a harsher critic of herself than the judges.
The two-time world champion boosted Russia’s medal chances in the team event behind commanding leaders Canada but just as crucially gave her own prospects of claiming the women’s singles crown a potent boost.
With the defending champions struggling after Mikhail Kolyada flopped in his men’s short programme on Friday, Medevedeva put the team competing as neutrals under the Olympic Athletes from Russia flag, back in business.
After Sunday’s concluding pairs free dance Canada, silver medallists in Sochi four years ago, led on 45 points from Medvedeva’s OAR on 39 with the United States in third on 36.
The 18-year-old Muscovite was poised, polished and foot perfect in her short programme to Chopin’s Nocturne.
With Russian flags waving in the stands the judges rewarded her routine which began with a triple flip – triple toeloop combination with a career best 81.06.
Whilst declaring herself “happy” she quickly added: “I know what I can do better.
“On a scale of five, I’d give myself a four, maybe a bit less, a four minus a quarter.”
Medvedeva arrived on the Korean peninsula three weeks after being deposed as European champion by her 15-year-old compatriot and training partner Alina Zagitova.
With Zagitova lying in wait next week it was vital Medvedeva produced something special here, and she didn’t disappoint as she proved she had fully recovered from the broken foot that sidelined her for two months late last year.
– So proud –
“Today was a personal experience for me and a lesson. That is valuable experience as the most important part, the individual competition is still to come,” she added.
“I have waited for these Olympic Games for 10 years.
“So many people were saying, it is nerve-wracking, it is a different competition.
“Yes, I felt a little bit nervous at the beginning of the programme, but I just tried to stay calm and to be confident and I think it helped me.”
Canada will be tough to deny after an assured display from Canadian ice dance stars Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir in their short programme.
They kept their team in control with their samba rhumba cha cha routine earning maximum points.
The duo who won ice dance gold at Vancouver in 2010 were competing after acting as Canada’s flagbearers at the Pyeongchang Games opening ceremony.
“We didn’t know what to expect,” said Moir about his third Olympics adventure.
“That is the joy of the Olympic Games. I think what we felt is even more special. We have such a solid Canadian team. We are so proud to be a part of it.”
The team event reaches its conclusion on Monday with the men’s free skate in which Canada rely on dual Sochi silver medallist Patrick Chan, followed by the women and ice dance free skate.