Yevgenia Medvedeva earns back-to-back Worlds titles
Moscow teenager Yevgenia Medvedeva became the first woman to defend her world title since Michelle Kwan did it in 2000 and 2001. Before Adelina Sotnikova won gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Russia had never before had a ladies’ figure skating gold medal. Medvedeva appears to be the clear successor for that crown – she hasn’t lost a competition since November 2015.
The rest of the Russian ladies are more of a question mark. 2014 Olympic team gold medalist Yulia Lipnitskaya hasn’t been a presence on the international stage for some seasons, while one-time world champion sensation Elizaveta Tuktamysheva couldn’t continue her dominant streak. Anna Pogorilaya had been more consistent during the 2016-17 than she had ever been, but fell three times at Worlds. Elena Radionova, the 2015 bronze medalist, was not named to Russia’s 2017 Worlds team.
Russia may instead look to its junior ranks to fill their three Olympic ladies spots: Alina Zagitova is the 2017 world junior champion and 2016 Junior Grand Prix Final champion. She finished second to her training partner Medvedeva at Russian nationals on the senior level, but was not age-eligible for the 2017 World Championships. She will be eligible for the PyeongChang Olympics, though.
Nathan Chen has his work cut out for him
Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu and Spain’s Javier Fernandez have been trading world titles leading to the 2018 Olympics – and they train together in Toronto, Canada. Hanyu won in 2014, after capturing Japan’s first men’s Olympic gold in Sochi, while Fernandez captured the 2015 and 2016 titles. Hanyu posted a free skate world record to capture the title in 2017, while Fernandez finished fourth.
Three-time world champion and Olympic silver medalist Patrick Chan of Canada finished fifth at Worlds.
Though at the 2017 Four Continents Championships, when Chen, Hanyu, and Chan competed head-to-head without any Europeans in the field, the U.S. man came away with the title. On top of it all, the event was held inside the 2018 Olympic venue.
U.S. ice dance dynasty continues
Brother-sister ice dancers Maia and Alex Shibutani from the U.S. landed on the Worlds podium for the second consecutive year; a bronze in 2017 and a silver in 2016. Their momentum is expected to continue into the Olympic season.
Madison Chock and Evan Bates, who rival the Shibutanis on the national as well as international stage, finished seventh. They earned a bronze in 2016 and a silver in 2015. Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, who sat in third place after the short dance, slipped to ninth overall after an error on their twizzle series.
U.S. ice dancers won a medal the first time the event appeared in the Olympics in 1976, but it took until Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto grabbed a silver 30 years later in 2006 to see another medal. Meryl Davis and Charlie White have kept up the tradition, winning silver in 2010 and the U.S.’ first-ever gold in 2014.
Injury-riddled pairs field leaves no clear leaders
Nearly all the top pairs dealt with injuries coming into or during the world championships.
Gold medalists Sui Wenjing and Han Cong sat out of the first half of the season while Sui recovered from right ankle and left foot surgery. Sui and Han won two Worlds silver medals before breaking through for gold.
Germany’s Aliona Savchenko, who won a Worlds silver medal with partner Bruno Massot, missed the fall season due to a torn ankle ligament.
During the six minute warm up prior to the start of the pairs short program, Russia’s Evgenia Tarasova fell and as partner Vladimir Morozov toppled over her, his blade sliced her leg and she needed 10 stitches. The pair chose not to withdraw, competing in both the short program and free skate, and finished with a bronze medal overall. Tarasov and Morozov withdrew from the Exhibition Gala at the conclusion of the event due to her injury.
Another Russian pair, Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov, missed the fall season because of Stolbova’s left leg injury. They won a silver medal together at the Sochi Olympics.
Two-time world champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada also were hampered by injuries at Worlds. Duhamel told media she may have a stress fracture in her left foot, while Radford skated through a hip injury sustained in the week prior to Worlds. They chose not to withdraw from competition and finished seventh.