Medvedeva dominates, but Canada leads team competition

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada perform during the ice dance short dance team event in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) Not even a surpassing performance by Russian figure skater Evgenia Medvedeva could put much of a crimp in Team Canada’s pursuit of Olympic gold.

Medvedeva’s mesmerizing short program Sunday almost made everything else seem ordinary. Her 81.06 score broke her previous world mark as she virtually floated along the ice, nailing every element with a combination of technical skill and artistry that only she has perfected in recent years.

The 18-year-old two-time world champion smiled broadly as a group of her countrymen chanted ”well done” in the stands. Her marks actually seemed a bit low for such an overwhelming routine.

”I wasn’t nervous. I was focused, maybe too much,” Medvedeva said. ”I have to relax a little bit, maybe.”

Imagine what she might do then.

Still, the team gold doesn’t appear in reach for the Russian squad, who have 39 points heading into Monday’s free skates in the other three disciplines. Canada’s deep and powerful team has 45 points, and will be favored in free dance after two-time Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir laid down a superb short dance.

Canada also won the pairs free skate Sunday with Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, while Kaetlyn Osmond was third in the women’s short.

”That was kind of what we were looking to do in the team competition, to nail a solid, season-best performance, but to have room to do it better next time,” Duhamel said. ”If this was absolutely perfect it would be hard to know what to strive for next week (in the individual event).

”But I think we had a great short and a great long where we have room for improvement in both programs.”

While Canada, which has stressed the importance of taking home the team gold for nearly four years after finishing second to host Russia in Sochi, the United States has been hopeful of replicating its third-place finish in 2014. That became more difficult Sunday when Italy surged within a single point, 36-35.

The difference between the two nations could come in the men’s event, where the United States appears stronger with Adam Rippon against Matteo Rizzo.

More AP Olympic coverage: https://wintergames.ap.org

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