Yevgenia Medvedeva thankful for Brian Orser late-night talk after Skate Canada disaster

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Yevgenia Medvedeva said she will always remember her seventh-place Skate Canada short program. She won’t soon forget how coach Brian Orser helped her process it early Sunday morning.

“After short program, I was really ready to die,” the Olympic silver medalist and two-time world champion told Skate Canada of her performance Saturday, her first time outside the top three in any program in her four senior seasons. “I didn’t want to say, ‘Oh no, I don’t care, just go forward.’ I felt awful. I felt so bad. I just really wanted to kill myself. I wasn’t even in the main warm-up [for the top six in the free skate].”

Medvedeva rebounded with the highest-scoring free skate Sunday, albeit with jumping errors, to finish third overall behind countrywoman Elizaveta Tuktamysheva and Japanese Mako Yamashita. Medvedeva kept her flawless record of making the podium in all 20 of her competitions since turning senior in 2015.

“Really thankful to Brian because he talked with me until 1 a.m. this night,” Medvedeva said Sunday. “I almost didn’t sleep this night. I slept about two hours and a half because I thought about all the stuff.”

In her free skate, Medvedeva landed seven triple jumps, though one was downgraded and she lost points on two edge calls. Her score — 137.08 — ranks her ninth in the world this season.

“I really tried to wake up wild animal inside of me,” said Medvedeva, who wore a crown of flowers in the kiss and cry and shouted out Johnny Weir. “I made a huge step forward because I lose all concentration in the short program.”

Olympic champion Alina Zagitova, whom Medvedeva trained with before splitting from coach Eteri Tutberidze and moving to Orser’s training group in Toronto after PyeongChang, has the world’s best free skate score this season of 158.5.

“I didn’t know what to expect after free program,” Medvedeva said. “I really didn’t think even about podium. I thought that I just have to do everything in my power just to not regret about all of this competition. But I will remind myself that mistake in the short program for all my life. I think it’s a good lesson to me to keep concentration and attention.”

Medvedeva next competes at Internationaux de France in three weeks, with a place in December’s six-skater Grand Prix Final at stake.

“I know that I have to win in France,” she said.

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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Mark Spitz takes on Katie Ledecky’s challenge

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Swimmers around the world took on Katie Ledecky‘s milk-glass challenge since it became a social media sensation, including one of the few Americans with more Olympic gold medals.

Mark Spitz, who won seven golds at the 1972 Munich Games, took 10 strokes in an at-home pool while perfectly balancing a glass of what appeared to be water on his head.

“Would’ve been faster with the ‘stache, @markspitzusa, but I still give this 7 out of 7 gold medals,” Ledecky tweeted.

Spitz joined fellow Olympic champions Susie O’Neill of Australia and American Matt Grevers in posting similar videos to what Ledecky first shared Monday.

In Tokyo next year, Ledecky can pass Spitz’s career gold-medal count of nine if she wins all of her expected events — 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles and the 4x200m free relay.

Then she would trail one athlete from any country in any sport — Michael Phelps, the 23-time gold medalist who has yet to post video of swimming while balancing a glass on his head.

MORE: Spitz puts Michael Phelps’ career in perspective

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Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis eyeing Grand Slam record

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Serena Williams travels with “like 50 masks” and has been a little bit of a recluse since early March and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t have full lung capacity, so I’m not sure what would happen to me,” Williams said Saturday, two days before the start of the WTA’s Top Seed Open in Lexington, Ky., her first tournament since playing Fed Cup in early February. “I’m sure I’ll be OK, but I don’t want to find out.”

Williams, 38, has a history of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms. She faced life-threatening complications following her Sept. 1, 2017, childbirth that confined her to a bed for six weeks. She said her daily routine was surgery and that she lost count after the first four.

More recently, Williams enjoyed “every part” of the last six months at home in Florida, her longest time grounded since her teens.

“I’ve been a little neurotic, to an extent,” on health and safety, she said. “Everyone in the Serena bubble is really protected.”

Williams is entered to play next week in Lexington and at consecutive tournaments in New York City later this month — the Western & Southern Open and U.S. Open, the latter starting Aug. 31.

Williams is the highest-ranked player in the Lexington field at No. 9. Others include 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, older sister Venus Williams and 16-year-old Coco Gauff.

She has been bidding ever since having daughter Olympia to tie Margaret Court‘s record 24 Grand Slam singles titles, albeit many of Court’s crowns came before the Open Era and, notably at the Australian Open, against small fields lacking the world’s best players. Williams reached the last two Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals, losing all of them.

She showed her seriousness in committing early to this year’s U.S. Open by installing a court at home with the same surface. Three of the top 10 female singles players already said they will skip the U.S. Open due to travel and/or virus concerns, including No. 1 Ash Barty.

“Tennis is naturally a socially distanced sport, so it was kind of easy to go back and just walk on my side of the court and have my hitter walk on his side of the court,” Williams said.

The French Open starts two weeks after the U.S. Open ends. Williams was asked if she will fly to Europe for tournaments this autumn.

“I see myself doing it all, if it happens,” she said.

The Tokyo Olympics are too far away to make plans.

“We’ll have to kind of wait to see what happens in the fall,” she said. “One thing I have learned with this pandemic is don’t plan.”

MORE: Past U.S. Open champions get wild cards

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