Yevgenia Medvedeva reacted by pointing two gloved fingers, in the shape of a gun, at her forehead and blowing. Seconds later came her Skate Canada short program score.
“Ugh,” new coach Brian Orser said. Medvedeva, sitting to his right in the kiss and cry, shook her head, exhaled and put her chin down.
The Olympic silver medalist and two-time world champion is in seventh place going into Saturday’s free skate at her first top-level competition since starting a new skating life in Toronto following disappointment in PyeongChang.
It’s Medvedeva’s first time outside the top three in any program in four seasons as a senior skater.
Her knee just about grazed the ice on a downgraded triple flip, and she put a hand down. She also did not have a jumping combination.
So Medvedeva scored 60.83 points, trailing leader and countrywoman Elizaveta Tuktamysheva by 13.39 in Laval, Quebec.
Tuktamysheva, the 2015 World champion who missed Russia’s Olympic team, landed a triple Axel with a positive grade of execution for the first time since December 2015. Tuktamysheva was the Russian superstar before Medvedeva turned senior and won every major competition in the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
Alina Zagitova passed both of them last year, Olympic champion in her first season as a senior.
Now Tuktamysheva is on the rise. Medvedeva is facing a fourth straight defeat since she returned from a broken bone in her foot in January, following the longest stretch of dominance by a female skater since Katarina Witt in the 1980s.
She wasn’t the only favorite to struggle Friday.
Fellow Olympic silver medalist Shoma Uno fell into the boards on a triple Axel and trails Canadian Keegan Messing by 6.18 points going into the free. Messing, who was 12th in PyeongChang, opened his clean short with a quadruple toe loop-triple toe loop combination.
“Disappointment and regret, those are the emotions about my performance,” Uno said, according to the International Skating Union. “It is not about me taking a high risk, I just can’t do triples.”
American Jason Brown, who missed PyeongChang after placing ninth in Sochi, is 11th of 12 skaters. Brown fell on an under-rotated triple Axel at his first Grand Prix since joining Orser’s training group in Toronto.
In ice dance, U.S. champions and world silver medalists Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue became the first couple to crack 80 points in a rhythm dance this season. Hubbell and Donohue are set to clinch a spot in December’s Grand Prix Final after winning Skate America last week.
In pairs, world bronze medalists Vanessa James and Morgan Ciprès of France posted the world’s best short program score this season — 74.51. They lead Chinese Peng Cheng and Jin Yang by 2.51 points.
The 2017 U.S. champions Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier are in eighth and last place after she fell on their side-by-side triple Salchows and throw triple loop.
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