Ice Network

Medvedeva soars to gold at Trophée de France

Russians take top two spots in Paris; Gold finishes disappointing eighth
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Russia's Evgenia Medvedeva was too strong at Trophée de France 2016 in Paris, besting the field of competitors by nearly 22 points. -Getty Images

World champion Evgenia Medvedeva didn't give the opposition the slightest of chances to outperform her in Paris. The talented Russian won the ladies event by nearly 22 points, outpacing newcomer Maria Sotskova and earning 221.54 total points in the process.

Japan's Wakaba Higuchi, the 2015 and 2016 world junior bronze medalist, rallied from fifth place after the short program to claim the bronze medal with 194.48 points, while U.S. skater Gracie Gold struggled to an eight-place finish.

Medvedeva skated to music from the Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close soundtrack, engulfing the audience the entire time. The crowd was completely silent as she started her opening dramatic pantomime and watched as she landed her triple flip-triple toe combo but surprisingly fell on the ensuing triple lutz.

She managed to hold the attention of the audience, especially during her suggestive, and quite dramatic, step sequence. The remainder of her program was flawless, as her spins and step sequence all received Level 4's, while her jumps were perfectly landed.

"I'm really pleased to have qualified for the Grand Prix Final," Medvedeva said, "but I'm not satisfied with my program. It's absolutely not what I wanted to present. But I will be ready to work harder at home."

Not only is Medvedeva becoming a true actress on the ice but she performs with incredible professionalism. She ended her final spin right on time, as if she were picking up her telephone as it started ringing. She reeled off 143.02 points for her entertaining free program.

Sotskova was dressed in a light pink outfit, and she skated a delicately carved routine to Alfred Schnittke's "Adagio." The Russian skater landed all of her elements, from a triple lutz-triple toe to an original triple flip-triple salchow combination, along with three additional triple jumps.

Just like her Russian counterpart, her four non-jump elements were rated Level 4. She accrued 131.64 points for her free program and beat her season's best by 3.19 points.

"This was a difficult medal, but I am happy to have it," she said with a smile.

"I'm afraid not," she said, when asked if there were pre-routine jitters. "Today I was concentrating on my jumps too much, and I forgot about performance. But one day my butterflies will be free."

Much like Sotskova, Higuchi medaled in her first Grand Prix appearance. Skating at high speed to Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade, Higuchi delivered a strong package, both technically and artistically. Her routine included a triple lutz-triple toe combination and three more triples.

Her biggest error came when she singled her second triple lutz, but she still received 129.46 points for her free program, all while registering a new season's best. Her components were also the second highest of the field (65.87 points).

"This is my first senior Grand Prix," Higuchi said at the post-event press conference. "To tell you the truth, I was aiming at the podium. I was also trying to be more expressive this year, using my arms better and make bigger movements. I think I succeeded."

So Youn Park also put together a near clean program and ended her visit to Paris in fourth place, just ahead of France's Maé-Bérénice Méité, who redeemed herself after a disastrous short program.

Canada's Gabrielle Daleman, who was second after the short, fell on her opening triple toe loop and tried to recover, but she wasn't able to land her jumps perfectly until the second portion of her program. She slipped to sixth place in the free skate.

Gracie Gold had another rough outing and never put herself in medal contention. The talented yet struggling American opened her free program to Ravel's Daphnis et Chloé with an exquisite choreographic sequence that only the best skaters can perform, and landed her double axel with speed and ease.

Gold was just as determined when she went into her triple lutz-triple toe combo, but she fell after the lutz. She landed her loop and double axel-triple toe but lost her energy and missed her remaining jumps. Her three spins and step sequence were rated Level 4.

"I definitely felt better today," a relieved Gold said. "You know, I had a really slow start of the season, which started August 1 instead of May 15. There is nothing wrong with this program, and I am progressing. I have to speed up my timeframe and now have to get ready rapidly."

Mao Asada doubled all of her planned triple jumps, with the lone exception being a triple loop. Her skating skills were up to par, but the technique seemed to be lost. She told the Japanese press after the event that she was battling several injuries, which prevented her from training properly.