Zagitova edges Medvedeva to win women’s figure skating gold
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — Close friends, fierce competitors and, now, the two best women figure skaters in the world.
Alina Zagitova edged training partner Evgenia Medvedeva on Friday for victory in the singles competition, giving the Russians their first gold medal of the Pyeongchang Games.
“I haven’t fully realized yet that I’ve won,” the 15-year-old Zagitova said. “I think I need some time to understand that I won the Olympic Games.”
Well, she can pinch herself now.
She and Medvedeva tied in the free skate with 156.65 points, but Zagitova had won the short program Wednesday — giving her the edge by only 1.31 points.
“I can’t believe I am the champion,” Zagitova said.
The Russians’ gold drought had been one of the ongoing story lines of the games, and they were running out of time to get one — although those concerns were eased a bit by Zagitova and Medvedeva coming into the day in prime position to win.
Now, the Russians will have a shot at another gold with the men’s hockey team advancing to the final after a 3-0 victory over the Czech Republic. Canada and Germany were playing later to determine the matchup for Sunday.
“We deserve to be there and the best team will win,” Russian forward Ilya Kovalchuk said. “We will be ready for the game, for sure.”
Switzerland topped Canada to win the bronze medal in men’s curling. The gold-medal game between the U.S. and Sweden is Saturday.
Kelsey Serwa of Canada won the gold in women’s skicross, adding to the silver she won four years ago in Sochi.
Kjeld Nuis of the Netherlands took the men’s 1,000 meters in speedskating, edging Havard Lorentzen of Norway by 0.04 seconds. Nuis also won the 1,500 last week.
In Gangneung, Zagitova skated first and she nailed everything during her program to “Don Quixote.” The 18-year-old Medvedeva matched Zagitova — but that wasn’t good enough to bring home the gold.
“I put everything out there that I had,” Medvedeva said. “I left everything on the ice. I have no regrets.”
Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada, who had considered retirement, won the bronze.
A few hours later, Vasily Koshechkin stopped all 31 shots he faced to help the Russians advance in men’s hockey.
Nikita Gusev and Vladislav Gavrikov scored goals 27 seconds apart in the second period, and Kovalchuk added an empty-netter with 20.9 seconds left to seal the Russians’ first trip to the final since 1998.
“It is huge for us and the players and for the country,” Russian forward Mikhail Grigorenko said of playing for the gold. “It would mean everything to us.”
Swiss don’t miss
Switzerland’s men’s team clinched the bronze in curling when Benoit Schwarz took out two Canadian stones with his last throw of the 10th and final end.
Canada had just one throw left, so it was unable to score the two points it needed to force an extra end.
“Very fortunate that maybe they didn’t play their absolute best game and we had a pretty good game,” Switzerland’s Peter de Cruz said. “So that was enough to win it.”
The loss was an upset for Canada, which had won the last three men’s competitions.
“We feel disheartened, disappointed, just kind of gutted, really,” Canada’s Brent Laing said. “That’s not the way it was supposed to go, wasn’t what we planned, but the better team won today and unfortunately it wasn’t us.”
At Phoenix Snow Park, Serwa took the lead early and had a big advantage when she completed the course.
“I knew that there was no way to let up, that these girls would be right behind, fighting,” Serwa said. “I tried to stay as compact and aerodynamic as possible and all the way to the finish line.”
Canadian teammate Brittany Phelan, a close friend of Serwa, used an impressive pass late in the run to finish second.
“We didn’t come out here to participate. We came out here to win, and to do it together is unbelievable,” Serwa said. “I’m so pumped.”
Fanny Smith of Switzerland won bronze.