GANGNEUNG, South Korea (Reuters) - Evgenia Medvedeva set a new world record on Sunday in the women’s figure skating short programme with a brilliant skate that lifted the Olympic Athletes from Russia into second place in the team competition behind Canada.
Medvedeva, the reigning world champion who is competing in her first Olympics, was awarded 81.06 for her performance, sparking cheers from Russian fans in the crowd.
The 18-year-old overcame a number of hurdles to make it to Pyeongchang, including a broken foot that forced her to drop out of the Grand Prix Final last year and a doping scandal that cast doubt on whether Russia would be allowed to participate at all.
Medvedeva said her injury and the uncertainty surrounding Russian Olympians had just made her and her team mates stronger.
“I competed to feel the magic of the Olympics,” she said.
Italian veteran Carolina Koster hung on for her opening triple flip and triple toeloop combination, earning 75.10 points and second place.
Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada, skating to Edith Piaf’s “Sous le ciel de Paris” and “Milord”, took a step out of her triple flip before under rotating a triple toeloop at the start but regained her composure to finish third with 71.38 points.
Earlier on Sunday, Canadian ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir produced a sizzling routine to bolster an already strong Canadian team performance.
The reigning world champions and three-time Olympic medallists dazzled with an impressive midline step sequence that earned them 80.51 points.
American brother and sister Maia and Alex Shibutani’s energetic performance that included smooth twizzles and an impressive rotational lift, finished second with 75.46 points.
“It was our strongest performance that we were looking to put out, I think we made a lot of big steps coming out of Nationals,” Alex told reporters, referring to the U.S. competition last month.
“The programme felt great. We went out there with a job and we’re very happy that we did it,” he said, although he added they were a little disappointed at their score.
Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev, part of the Russian team that won gold at the 2014 Sochi Games, were third with 74.76 points.
“We had trouble with our rumba,” Soloviev told reporters. “Of course we’re disappointed because we worked on this element more than on the others.”
The first day of the team competition, which included the men’s and pairs short programmes, were marked by falls by Canada’s Patrick Chan and American jumping ace Nathan Chen, although the overall team scores were lifted by the later pairs results.
Only the top five teams, Canada, the OAR, the U.S., Japan and Italy, have advanced to the free section of the competition.
The final rounds of the event take place on Monday.
Editing by Greg Stutchbury