Medvedeva, 16, wins world title with record free skate score
BOSTON — Sixteen-year-old Evgenia Medvedeva started giggling when she learned her free skate score at the world championships had set a record. Then she summed it up in English: “Wow.”
The Russian teen capped a dominant debut season with a world title, earning 150.10 points to break Yuna Kim’s record from the 2010 Olympics. Medvedeva moved up from third after the short program to add to her Grand Prix Final and European titles.
American Ashley Wagner skated last and sent the home crowd into a frenzy with a personal-best score that moved her from fourth to second, the first U.S. woman in a decade to win a medal at worlds. Another Russian teen, Anna Pogorilaya, took bronze.
American Gracie Gold, who led after the short program, fell on her opening triple-triple combination to drop to fourth.
Medvedeva looked a bit hesitant during Thursday’s short program in her first senior worlds. But she was captivating from the start Saturday. She landed seven triple jumps with never a hint of trouble, throwing an arm above her head on many of them.
“I won’t realize quickly I won today because one year ago I was still skating juniors,” she said through a translator.
It was a performance both youthful and mature at the same time. The program opens with Medvedeva peering out into the crowd with a look of wide-eyed wonder.
When it was over, she thrust both fists into the air in triumph.
“Actually I don’t really have any emotions right now — I left everything on the ice,” she said afterward.
Sitting in the kiss-and-cry area, the teenager came back out. She bopped her head to the music as she waited for her scores, squeezing her eyes shut and clutching a stuffed animal tight as the marks were about to be announced.
She finished with a total of 223.86 points, following in the footsteps of Adelina Sotnikova, who won the Olympic gold medal at age 17 in 2014, and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, who won last year’s world title at 18.
No American woman had finished on the podium at worlds since Kimmie Meissner took gold and Sasha Cohen bronze in 2006. Even with Gold’s mistakes, her score guaranteed that the drought would end — it was just a question of whether it would be Gold or Wagner.
Wagner had the crowd shrieking from the moment she landed her triple flip-triple toe loop combination, and the powerhouse program to the “Moulin Rouge” soundtrack earned her a big score for choreography and expression despite two under-rotated jumps. She received 142.23 points for 215.39 total.
As the music ended, her jaw dropped in exhilaration, an ending that couldn’t have been more different from the “horrific experience” the last time she competed in Boston.
At nationals in 2014, she came in as the two-time defending champion then fell twice in her free skate to finish a distant fourth. With Wagner still haunted by those memories earlier this week, best friend Adam Rippon — who went on to finish sixth in the men’s competition Friday — reminded her that in 2014, she was out of shape, overweight and under-trained.
“Because of 2014, I’m sitting here today,” Wagner said.
She was still selected for the 2014 Olympic team because of her previous successes, but the debate about whether she deserved the berth in Sochi stung.
“I have so many people that for so many parts of my career say this has been given to me; I don’t deserve this,” she said.
“The fact that I have a world silver medal because of something I did, not because of something everybody else didn’t do,” Wagner added, “that is so sweet.”
Skating after Gold, Wagner could tell from the crowd’s reaction that a mistake had occurred. She realized there was an opening for a medal but quickly banished the thought from her mind.
There’s a picture on a wall at TD Garden of the podium from the 2014 U.S. Championships — Wagner is cropped out of it. Now she’ll forever be in all the photos from the 2016 worlds, a feat she achieved at the age of 24, when many skaters have retired.
“It definitely gets harder. I see this one over here,” she said, motioning to Medvedeva, “do long program run-throughs with triple-triples on the end of every combination, and I just think, ‘Oh, to be 16 again.’ Then I remember that at 16 I couldn’t do that.”
Pogorilaya, 17, was the least accomplished of the three Russians coming in, finishing third behind Medvedeva and Elena Radionova at both the national championships and European Championships. But she skated two clean programs in Boston to again finish third — this time against a much deeper field.
She received 139.71 points for 213.69 total.
Even after her fall, Gold still had a chance to pass Pogorilaya and secure a medal. But she also did a double lutz instead of planned triple and lost potential points because of the edge on her triple flip takeoff. She earned 134.86 points for 211.29 total.
“I feel really ashamed of how I skated and I want to apologize to my country and to the crowd here — there’s really no excuse for it,” a dismayed Gold said later. “It just shows that I’m not up there with the rest of the world. I still have hopes for the 2018 Olympics, but we’ll have to step back and re-evaluate what’s realistic for my future skating.”