Yevgenia Medvedeva, after three nearly flawless years atop a revolving-door sport, earned silver medals at her last three competitions.
It’s not a shock given the circumstances. Even her most recent outing, taking second to U.S. champion Bradie Tennell at a lower-level season debut last month, if you listen to new coach Brian Orser.
Medvedeva, after the most dominant run in women’s skating since Katarina Witt in the 1980s, succumbed first to a broken bone in her right foot last fall and second to 15-year-old (now former) training partner Alina Zagitova. Zagitova beat Medvedeva at January’s European Championships and in PyeongChang (by a mere 1.31 points).
Medvedeva returns to the Grand Prix series at this week’s Skate Canada in Laval, Quebec, across the provincial border from her new home in Toronto. NBC Sports Gold streams live coverage:
|Friday||2:15-3:45 p.m.||Pairs’ Short||NBC Sports Gold | STREAM LINK|
|3:45-5:30 p.m.||Men’s Short||NBC Sports Gold | STREAM LINK|
|7-8:30 p.m.||Rhythm Dance||NBC Sports Gold | STREAM LINK|
|8;45-10:30 p.m.||Women’s Short||NBC Sports Gold | STREAM LINK|
|Saturday||1:15-2:45 p.m.||Pairs’ Free||NBC Sports Gold | STREAM LINK|
|3-5 p.m.||Men’s Free||NBC Sports Gold | STREAM LINK|
|7-8;45 p.m.||Free Dance||NBC Sports Gold | STREAM LINK|
|9-11 p.m.||Women’s Free||NBC Sports Gold | STREAM LINK|
|Sunday||2 p.m.||Exhibition||NBC Sports Gold | STREAM LINK|
|4-6 p.m.||Highlights||NBC | STREAM LINK|
Medvedeva will not face Zagitova before December’s Grand Prix Final. At Skate Canada, the notable foes are world silver medalist Wakaba Higuchi of Japan and 2015 World champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, whom Medvedeva succeeded as the leading Russian.
Some uncertainty shadows Medvedeva going into a season for the first time since she turned senior in 2015.
There is the icy spring split from her coach of 11 years, Eteri Tutberidze, and the transatlantic move.
Medvedeva turns 19 in November, older than any Russian medalist at an Olympics or worlds since Adelina Sotnikova ushered in the nation’s dominance at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games. The Russian conveyor belt is now producing 14-year-olds with quadruple jumps, though they are not yet eligible for senior international events.
Orser, who coached Yuna Kim and Yuzuru Hanyu to Olympic titles, is reworking part of Medvedeva’s jump technique.
“She has embraced the idea of rebuilding,” Orser told Olympics reporter Phil Hersh before the season. “I think she understands that’s the only option, and we may have to take a couple hits along the way.”
Zagitova has the world’s top score this season by nearly 17 points — 238.43. Medvedeva tallied 204.89 at last month’s Autumn Classic, falling in the free skate and getting passed by Tennell. A 220 this week would put Medvedeva atop everyone except her former training partner.
Also at Skate Canada, PyeongChang silver medalist Shoma Uno of Japan is the only man from the top 10 at the Olympics in the field. He posted the world’s top score in the pre-Grand Prix season and is the defending champion at this event. His rivals — Olympic champ Yuzuru Hanyu and world champ Nathan Chen — should be waiting at December’s Grand Prix Final.
Other Skate Canada podium contenders include Jason Brown, the top American finisher at the Sochi Olympics (ninth) who missed the PyeongChang team with a sixth-place finish at January’s nationals. Brown, 23, then left his coach since age 5 and “second mom” — Kori Ade. He moved from Colorado to Orser’s Toronto group.
Brown, yet to land a clean quadruple jump in competition, opened his season with a fourth-place finish at the Autumn Classic. It marked his first time off the podium in seven career lower-level Challenger Series events. Like Medvedeva, he is a work in progress.
In ice dance, U.S. champions and world silver medalists Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue are favored to make it back-to-back Grand Prix wins following their maiden Skate America title last week. The Skate Canada field is slightly stronger with Russians Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov and Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, Nos. 4 and 5 in the world this season.
World bronze medalists Vanessa James and Morgan Ciprès lead the pairs’ field.
As a reminder, you can watch the ISU Grand Prix Series live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. GO HERE to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season…NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.
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