U.S. champions Gracie Gold and Ashley Wagner are at the bottom of the standings, trailing Russian leader Yevgenia Medvedeva after the Grand Prix Final short program in Barcelona on Friday.
Medvedeva, the reigning World junior champion, cleanly landed all of her jumps and scored a personal-best 74.58 points going into Saturday’s free skate.
“I skated the maximum that I can do,” Medvedeva said through a translator at a press conference, adding, according to the International Skating Union, “I tried to perfect what I do and it has worked, I have started to skate better and more like an adult.”
Gold, the 2014 U.S. champion in her first Grand Prix Final, doubled a planned triple flip and two-footed another jump landing. She scored 66.52 points for fifth place of six skaters.
“It wasn’t what I wanted to do here,” Gold said, according to U.S. Figure Skating. “I still feel strong going into the long program knowing that my free skate is one of the best. This wasn’t my goal.”
Wagner, a three-time U.S. champion seeking her fourth straight Grand Prix Final podium, fell on the second jump of a triple-triple combination. She tallied 60.04 points and is in last place after the short program for a second straight Grand Prix Final.
“Today was sloppy,” Wagner said, according to U.S. Figure Skating. “The great thing about the Grand Prix Final is that it’s a bonus to be here, which means it’s a bonus to be able to compete.”
Last year, Wagner improved from sixth after the short program to earn bronze at the Grand Prix Final, the most prestigious annual figure skating competition outside of the World Championships.
“I would love to be able to do something very similar to what I pulled off last year,” Wagner said. “I’m up against a very difficult field, and tomorrow is another day. I’m also getting sick of saying that tomorrow is another day.”
Japan’s Mao Asada, seeking to become the first singles skater to win five Grand Prix Finals, was in great shape until her last jump. She singled a planned triple Lutz and is in third place with 69.13 points, behind Medvedeva and another Russian, Yelena Radionova.
“I made one major mistake today, and I regret that, but overall performance I don’t think it was too bad,” Asada said through a translator at a press conference.
Icenetwork.com will provide live coverage of Saturday’s free skates (ice dance at 11:25 a.m. ET, women at 1:45 p.m., men at 3 p.m.) for subscribers. NBC will air coverage Dec. 20 from 4-6 p.m. ET.
Earlier Friday, Russian Olympic pairs silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov recorded the second-highest pairs free skate score in the decade-old scoring system en route to gold.
They posted 154.60 points, .06 shy of the mark set by fellow Russians Tatyana Volozoshar and Maksim Trankov at 2013 Skate America.
Stolbova and Klimov, who also topped Thursday’s short program, finished 12.77 points ahead of Canadian World champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford. Russians Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov took bronze.
Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim, the first U.S. pair to make a Grand Prix Final since 2007, finished in last place (seventh overall) after they both fell in their free skate.
In the short dance, Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje scored 72.75 to lead by 1.11 over U.S. rivals Madison Chock and Evan Bates. They went one-two at last year’s Grand Prix Final.
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