USA hopes already on thin ice in women's short program

USA hopes already on thin ice in women's short program

USA hopes already on thin ice in women's short program

Alina Zagitova of the Olympic Athletes from Russian Federation smashed the world record to take the lead after the women's short program at Gangneung Ice Arena on Wednesday. She skated two clean programs to win nationals in January, forcing her way onto the Olympic team.

The rest of the world: Japan has a deep, competitive field of singles skaters represented at Pyeongchang by four-time national champion Satoko Miyahara (an elegant performer whose jumps are often as tiny as she is) and silver medalist Kaori Sakamoto, who won last month's Four Continents Championship with a charming free skate to the soundtrack of Amélie. She went on to eclipse the world record set minutes earlier by her rival, earning an astounding 89.92 for first place going into Thursday's free skate.

Just in time for the Olympics, there's been a shake-up in women's figure skating.

"Today wasn't my day, but my triple triple was still pretty good so I'm happy about that", Nagasu said. "It was a special sort of challenge for me and I'm excited for [the free skate]".

Grigory Dukor / Reuters Gold medallist Alina Zagitova of Russian Federation (R) and silver medallist Evgenia Medvedeva of Russian Federation attend the ceremony ISU European Championships 2018 victory ceremony.

Olympic Athletes from Russian Federation have yet to win a gold medal at the Games, but both shrugged off the prospect that one of them could win their country's first.

Nine days after becoming the first USA woman and third overall to land a triple axel in the Olympics, Mirai Nagasu came down on two feet on the jump, then fell.

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"Undefeatable", volunteered Mirai Nagasu, a two-time U.S. Olympian.

Medvedeva said she has so many talented, young rivals in her country armed with hard elements and jumps, and that "it just forces you to be stronger".

Experience is worth its weight in gold at the Olympics, and Italy's Kostner has plenty of it. Pyeongchang is the 31-year-old's fourth Olympics, and she's ready to defend her bronze medal from Sochi.

Medvedeva was sanguine about breaking her own record from the team event - only to see it smashed minutes later: "I am not chasing after numbers, but after inner feelings". Zagitova won December's Grand Prix Final with Medvedeva's withdrawal from the event.

Not so anymore. Japan's Kaori Sakamoto, for example, is now in fifth place, after a short program which included a triple flip-triple toe loop combination, triple loop, and double axel in the latter part of her skate. She will need to be rock-solid on those triple axels if she wants to become the first American woman to medal since Sasha Cohen in 2006. "When we take the ice, it's a sport, this is a real sport, and we must fight", Medvedeva said.

Zagitova has swept all before her in her first senior season, arriving in South Korea unbeaten in her four competitions, culminating in depriving Medvedeva of her European title in Moscow last month. She uncharacteristically fell on her opening triple-triple combination, which left her with 64.01 points. She attempted to put the triple toe onto her triple loop later in the program, put managed only a double toe.

The Russian athletes dominated the women's figure skating short program. "It wasn't my best, but I am glad that I was the first one out there".

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