[Recap] World Championships 2017: Ladies

When we all thought the ladies’ field has had enough of surprises, it turns out there were still some tricks up its sleeve. While there was a favorite to win the competition, the other two spots on the podium were up for grabs for at least seven women. The short program was… a bit of a mess for want of a better word. It wasn’t as bad as Four Continents, but it definitely wasn’t the cleanest event.

Evidently the sky did not fall and Evgenia Medvedeva (RUS) is now the second female skater to win back-to-back World titles, after Michelle Kwan in 2000 and 2001. She skated two technically perfect programs, including a record-breaking free skate. This is probably her fifth world record in this season. She also managed to be the first female skater to break the 230-point mark in the combined total score at 233.41 points. There’s no doubt that she’s a strong skater, and she may seem unbeatable heading into Olympic season. However, there are some things she can still work on. For one, we sincerely hope she gets better (read: non-problematic, actually enjoyable) programs for next season.

After being left off the World team last season, Kaetlyn Osmond (CAN)’s redemption story has culminated with a World silver medal. While we’re happy to see that she’s gotten back her confidence and her consistency after taking a season off due to injury, her scores are a little too generous for my liking. It will be interesting to see whether she can maintain this momentum heading into the Olympics.

Gabrielle Daleman (CAN)’s breakthrough started last season, and we are happy to say that her efforts have finally paid off with a World bronze medal. Two flawless programs assured her of a spot on the podium, after several heavier favorites faltered. It was only a matter of which medal she was going to get. We’re looking forward to seeing what else she has in store.

No one expected Karen Chen (USA) to be the person to save the third spot for US ladies. Her jumps were on, and she captivated the audience with her musicality and flexibility (THAT SPIRAL!). A fourth-place finish, along with Ashley Wagner (USA)’s seventh-place finish manage to preserve that third US ladies’ spot. After a decent (but, in our opinion, underscored) short program, Wagner made unfortunate mistakes in the free skate, thus preventing her from placing higher.

Mai Mihara (JPN) staged quite the comeback from 15th in the short program, to fourth in the free skate, ending up in fifth overall. However, Japanese ladies only have two spots, because Wakaba Higuchi (JPN)’s 11th place finish wasn’t enough to keep that third spot. This will be quite a bloodbath at Japanese nationals next year.

Wrapping up the Top 10 are Carolina Kostner (ITA), Maria Sotsokova (RUS), Elizabet Tursynbaeva (KAZ), and Da Bin Choi (KOR). Kostner has the lowest base values among the top ten ladies, yet it was her PCS that kept her competitive with the rest of the pack. Sotsokova’s eighth-place finish, along with Medvedeva’s first, gives Russia three spots. Tursynbaeva’s backloaded Princess Mononoke free skate (in her version of Yuna Kim 2010 Gershwin dress) earned a personal best and two spots for Kazakhstan at Pyeongchang. Meanwhile, two solid skates for Choi showed that she is possibly the number one Korean senior lady, earning the 2018 Olympic hosts two ladies’ spots.

No competition is complete without heart-breakers. For some reason, Zijun Li (CHN) was given lower scores than she deserved, after skating what was possibly her best all season long. If it were up to me, I would have given her higher PCS. Meanwhile, after placing fourth in the short program, scary Pogo Falls (Wong, 2016) have come back to haunt Anna Pogorilaya (RUS) in the free skate. She ended up in 15th for the free skate, and 13th overall. As a replacement for Satoko Miyahara (who is recovering from her hip injury), Rika Hongo (JPN) competed despite a nagging bone bruise in her ankle. The skates were far from what she wanted, and we sincerely hope that she takes a nice long vacation before she regroups for next season.

On a more positive note, there are some skaters who didn’t make the Top 10, but are definitely worth watching out for. Xiangning Li (CHN) and Loena Hendrickx (BEL) impressed in their World championships debut. Kailani Craine (AUS) earned a new personal best at the short program and managed to qualify for the free skate. Meanwhile, a few unfortunate mistakes from Amy Lin (TPE) prevented her from qualifying for the free skate, but the audience enjoyed her energy and performing skills. We’d love to see more of these ladies next season.

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