Karen Chen

Women's Figure Skating: Russian Skaters Deliver in Women's Short Program

Favorites Zagitova and Medvedeva are first and second heading into Friday’s free skate

Women’s figure skating at the Pyeongchang Olympics was billed as a showdown between Olympics Athletes from Russia Evgenia Medvedeva and Alina Zagitova, and the Russian skaters delivered Wednesday at Gangneung Ice Arena.

Zagitova set a new short program record with her score of 82.92 to slide into first place, ahead of Medvedeva by 1.31 points. If the 15-year-old Zagitova holds on to the top spot through Friday’s free skate, she would become the second youngest women’s figure skating gold medalist behind Tara Lipinski, the 1998 Olympic champion.

Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond was in third place after the short program with 78.87 points.

All three Americans to skate in the short program planned to open their routine with triple jumps, and all three stumbled. Bradie Tennell and Mirai Nagasu each fell all the way to the ice — Tennell on a triple lutz to triple toeloop combination, and Nagasu on a her trademark triple axel — while teammate Karen Chen placed a hand on the ice to brace herself coming out of a triple lutz.

Tennell was the first of the 30 skaters to perform and fell to the ice on her opening element, receiving a score of 64.01. The 2018 U.S. national champion finished her routine cleanly and held onto first place through the first 18 competitors, but finished the short program in 11th.

Nagasu, who became the first American to land a triple axel in Olympic competition when she executed it in the team event, stumbled on her trademark jump in the individual competition. An Olympian in 2010, Nagasu received 66.93 points — good for ninth place.

Chen, the final American to skate, was in 10th place with 65.90 points.

The women’s short program began with 30 skaters, the top 24 of which advance to the free skate on Friday (Thursday night in the US), where their combined scores in the two programs determine the medals.

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