yevgenia medvedeva

Yevgenia Medvedeva
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Olympic ladies’ figure skating preview: Medvedeva, Zagitova vie for gold

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Figure skating’s marquee discipline, the ladies’ event, will close out competition in PyeongChang. Many of the top athletes in the field – including Yevgenia Medvedeva, Alina Zagitova, Kaetlyn Osmond, and Team USA’s Bradie Tennell and Mirai Nagasu – already have Olympic medals to their name from the team event earlier in the Games.

Locked in a particularly tight battle are Medvedeva and Zagitova, who are friends off the ice but fierce rivals on the ice. Expect one of them to end up the gold, while the other is relegated to silver.

The ladies’ short program is Tuesday, Feb. 20 in Primetime on NBC and NBCOlympics.com and the free skate is Thursday, Feb. 22 in Primetime on NBC and NBCOlympics.com.

Here are some names to know before the competition kicks off.

Read the rest of the preview at NBCOlympics.com

Russia names 169-athlete Olympic roster

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The Russian Olympic Committee said it is sending 169 athletes to the PyeongChang Olympics, which would make it one of the largest teams at the Winter Games.

Only Canada, the U.S. and Russia had more than 169 athletes compete in Sochi.

All of the 169 athletes would have had to be individually invited to the PyeongChang Olympics by an IOC panel due to Russia’s doping sanctions.

Many of its stars were left out either by suspension or no invitation, including Viktor Ahn (six Olympic short track titles), Aleksandr Tretiyakov (Sochi skeleton champ), Aleksandr Legkov (Sochi 50km cross-country champ) and Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov (Sochi pairs figure skating silver medalists).

The most notable names of the 169 on the team are figure skating favorites Yevgenia Medvedeva and Alina Zagitova, American-born snowboarder Vic Wild (two golds in Sochi), 2017 World Cup luge champ Roman Repilov and five-time Olympic hockey players Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk.

The Olympic Athletes from Russia team, according to the Russian Olympic Committee:

BIATHLON
Anton Babikov, Matvei Eliseev, Tatyana Akimova, Uliana Kaisheva.

BOBSLED AND SKELETON
Maxim Andrianov, Alexey Zaitsev, Vasily Kondratenko, Vladislav Marchenkov, Ruslan Samitov, Yury Selikhov, Alexey Stulnev, Nikita Tregubov, Yulia Belomestnykh, Anastasia Kocherzhova, Alexandra Rodionova, Nadezhda Sergeeva.

ALPINE SKIING
Alexander Andrienko, Pavel Trikhichev, Alexander Khoroshilov, Anastasia Silantieva, Ekaterina Tkachenko.

CURLING
Alexander Krushelnytsky, Galina Arsenkina, Anastasia Bryzgalova, Uliana Vasilyeva, Yuliya Gusiyeva, Victoria Moiseeva, Yulia Portunova.

SPEED SKATING
Sergei Trofimov, Natalia Voronina, Angelina Golikova, Olga Graf.

NORDIC COMBINED
Ernest Yakhin.

CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING
Alexander Bolshunov, Alexey Vitsenko, Andrei Larkov, Andrei Melnichenko, Alexander Panzhinsky, Denis Spitsov, Alexey Chervotkin, Yulia Belorukova, Alisa Zhambalova, Natalya Nepryaeva, Anna Nechaevskaya, Anastasia Sedova.

SKI JUMPING
Evgeny Klimov, Denis Kornilov, Mikhail Nazarov, Alexei Romashov, Irina Avvakumova, Anastasia Barannikova, Alexandra Kustova, Sofya Tikhonova.

LUGE
Vladislav Antonov, Andrei Bogdanov, Alexander Denisiev, Andrei Medvedev, Semyon Pavlichenko, Roman Repilov, Stepan Fedorov, Ekaterina Baturina.

SNOWBOARDING
Nikita Avtaneev, Victor Wild, Daniil Dilman, Dmitry Loginov, Anton Mamaev, Nikolai Olyunin, Dmitry Sarsembayev, Andrei Sobolev, Vladislav Khadarin, Milena Bykova, Maria Vasiltsova, Alena Zavarzina, Christina Paul, Natalia Soboleva, Ekaterina Tudegesheva, Sofya Fedorova.

FIGURE SKATING
Dmitry Aliev, Jonathan Gureyro, Mikhail Kolyada, Vladimir Morozov, Alexei Rogonov, Dmitry Soloviev, Alexander Enbert, Christina Astakhova, Ekaterina Bobrova, Natalya Zabiyako, Alina Zagitova, Tiffany Zagorsky, Evgenia Medvedeva, Maria Sotskova, Yevgeniya Tarasova.

FREESTYLE SKIING
Ilya Burov, Maxim Burov, Semyon Denshchikov, Yegor Korotkov, Pavel Krotov, Stanislav Nikitin, Igor Omelin, Sergei Ridzik, Alexander Smyshlyaev, Pavel Chupa, Alina Gridneva, Valeria Demidova, Victoria Zavadovskaya, Lyubov Nikitina, Alexandra Orlova, Marika Pertakhia, Lana Prusakova , Regina Rakhimova, Kristina Spiridonova, Ekaterina Stolyarova, Anastasia Tatalina, Anastasia Chirtzova.

HOCKEY
Sergei Andronov, Alexander Barabanov, Vyacheslav Voinov, Vladislav Gavrikov, Mikhail Grigorenko, Nikita Gusev, Pavel Datsyuk, Artem Zub, Andrei Zubarev, Ilya Kablukov, Sergey Kalinin, Kirill Kaprizov, Bogdan Kiselevich, Ilya Kovalchuk, Vasily Koshechkin, Alexei Marchenko, Sergei Mozyakin , Nikita Nesterov, Nikolay Prokhorkin, Ilya Sorokin, Ivan Telegin, Dinar Khafizullin, Igor Shesterkin, Vadim Shipachev, Sergey Shirokov.

Nadezhda Alexandrova, Maria Batalova, Lyudmila Belyakova, Liana Ganeeva, Angelina Goncharenko, Elena Dergacheva, Evgenia Dupina, Fanuza Kadirov, Diana Kanaeva, Victoria Kulishova, Ekaterina Lobova, Nadezhda Morozova, Ekaterina Nikolaeva, Valeria Pavlova, Nina Pirogova, Ekaterina Smolina, Olga Sosina , Alena Starovoitova, Valeria Tarakanova, Svetlana Tkacheva, Anastasia Chistyakova, Anna Shokhina, Alevtina Shtareva.

SHORT TRACK SPEED SKATING
Semen Elistratov, Pavel Sitnikov, Alexander Shulginov, Ekaterina Efremenkova, Ekaterina Konstantinova, Emina Malagich, Sofya Prosvirnova.

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Alina Zagitova hands Yevgenia Medvedeva first loss in 2 years

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Russian Yevgenia Medvedeva is no longer the clear favorite in the Winter Olympics’ marquee event.

The two-time world champion lost for the first time in more than two years, upset by training partner Alina Zagitova at the European Figure Skating Championships in Moscow.

Italian Carolina Kostner earned bronze.

Zagitova, the 15-year-old world junior champion, set personal bests in the short program and free skate and totaled 238.24 points. She beat Medvedeva by 5.38 points.

“I was nervous today,” Zagitova said, according to the International Skating Union. “I did not expect to win.”

Medvedeva, in her first competition since November due to a broken foot, fully rotated all of her jumps Saturday, but Zagitova was cleaner. She also stumbled out of a double Axel in her short program.

“My main victory is that I am standing here [after the injury],” Medvedeva said, according to the ISU, after she said Thursday that the foot was fully healed. “For all athletes, but for me too, their performances improve from competition to competition. The bigger the break in competing, the worse it is. Silver is silver. You can’t change the value of a medal, but after a two month break it is really not a bad result.”

Full results are here. NBCSN will air coverage Saturday at 9 p.m. ET.

Zagitova was born three months after the Salt Lake City Olympics and without a name for her first year. Her parents eventually decided on Alina after watching Olympic rhythmic gymnastics champion Alina Kabayeva on TV.

She had been working to this point in her first senior international season. She swept her two fall Grand Prix starts, then won the Grand Prix Final in December, all without Medvedeva in the field.

On Saturday, she landed all of her jumps (including seven triples) in the second half of her program for 10 percent bonuses. It’s the type of technical content layout ambitious enough to challenge Medvedeva.

“I think that Zhenia [Medvedeva] is her role model in life, in behavior, in her way to work,” shared coach Eteri Tutberidze said last year, according to Goldenskate.com. “Alina absolutely tries to copy her way to work, the amount of work and she doesn’t stop. This helps. I can sometimes show Zhenia and say, ‘Look how Alina is working,’ and I tell Alina, ‘Look how Zhenia is working.’”

Medvedeva, whose last defeat was in November 2015, also won both of her Grand Prix starts, posting the world’s highest scores this season, while dealing with foot pain.

She underwent an MRI that revealed a crack, then withdrew from the Grand Prix Final and the Russian Championships in December. She is still expected to be on the Olympic Athlete from Russia team in PyeongChang.

Kostner, the 2014 Olympic bronze medalist who made her Europeans debut in 2003, fell on her opening triple Lutz and landed just three triple jumps Saturday.

She hung on to win a medal at her 11th straight European Championships.

Russian Maria Sotskova, the Grand Prix Final silver medalist, fell on her last triple jump, a Lutz, among other landing troubles. She placed fourth.

Those four skaters are the Olympic medal contenders along with Canadians Kaetlyn Osmond and Gabrielle Daleman and Japanese Satoko Miyahara and Kaori Sakamoto.

U.S. champion Bradie Tennell ranks 14th in the world this season.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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