Kaetlyn Osmond fulfilling promise, Russians a cut above

Canadian in medal position; Zagitova and Medvedeva in battle for gold

Kaetlyn Osmond fulfilling promise, Russians a cut above
Clockwise from top left: Russians Evgenia Medvedeva and Alina Zagitova, along with Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond have put themselves in medal position at the Olympics after the women’s short program. © Associate Press/Getty Images

By Pj Kwong, CBC Sports

I love it when figure skating delivers on the promise of potential.         

Kaetlyn Osmond's potential was already realized last March when she captured the silver medal at the world figure skating championships. Still, could she be better than she had been in the short program from the team event at the start of the Games? 

Osmond took what Olympic lessons she needed from the team competition and skated an outstanding short program on Wednesday in Pyeongchang. It was rock solid, and she was rewarded with a season-best score of 78.87, a third-place finish and a great position from which to try and capture a medal on Friday in South Korea and add to the gold from the team event.

It had all the hallmarks of a great Osmond skate: jumps that had height and speed, as well as charm and presentation that showcased her terrific maturity.

On the topic of potential, there seems to be an infinite amount for the Russian women.

Although I have pegged 15-year-old wunderkind and new European champion Alina Zagitova as the next Olympic champion, I certainly wasn't going to underestimate her Russian teammate Evgenia Medvedeva.

From junior worlds in March of 2015 to November 2017, Medvedeva was undefeated, which included two world titles.

Medvedeva is a machine who is able to perform under pressure like nobody's business. Coming into Pyeongchang, Medvedeva held the record for the highest score in the short program.

During the short program phase of the team event, Medvedeva beat her own record. Today, after a flawless skate, she beat it again with a score of 81.61. Surely that score would be enough to hold the lead. It was — for two more skaters.

Zagitova used speed and confidence to break Medvedeva's record with a score of 82.92.

I didn't expect to like Zagitova as much as I do. At only 15 years old, it stands to reason that she might have looked a little "junior" in a field of experienced seniors.

This is Zagitova's first season as a senior, but she is able to match all of them; jump for jump and step for step. Her commitment to the program and beautiful aesthetic gave me a whole lot to think about heading into the free skate.

I know I probably shouldn't encourage a movement that sees a skater put all the jumps after the halfway point for the 10 per cent bonus, which both Medvedeva and Zagitova did. But I can't help myself. I have to admire any skater who understands the scoring system well enough to be able to take advantage of it. This is a competition, after all.

I have a feeling that these two skaters push each other in a way that the very best do. It will be great for the sport to see to what heights these skaters will rise in the free skate.