Medvedeva, Fernandez lead in Paris


World champions Evgenia Medvedeva and Javier Fernandez moved closer to a spot in next month’s ISU Grand Prix of figure skating final as they led the women’s and men’s competitions at the ISU Grand Prix de France on Friday.

Medvedeva landed all of her jumps cleanly as she bettered her previous short programme best of 76.24 set on her way to victory at Skate Canada last month.

The 16-year-old Russian achieved 78.52 points — the second best score ever — for her performance to “River Flows in You” and “Winter” to lead Canada’s Gabrielle Daleman (72.70) and Russia’s Maria Sotskova (68.71).

“I am pleased with today’s performance, but this is still not the limit,” warned Medvedeva, the reigning Grand Prix final champion.

Japan’s three-time world champion Mao Asada slumped to eighth in the 12-woman field with American Gracie Gold also slipping to tenth after struggling in their routines.

Asada, 26, a former two-time Paris winner, finished sixth in the season-opening Skate America with her hopes of reaching the elite Grand Prix final in Marseille from December 8-11 slim.

Two-time men’s world champion Fernandez, fresh from his third Cup of Russia gold, survived a fall on his opening quadruple to score 96.57, the Spaniard comfortably leading American Nathan Chen (92.85) and Kazak Denis Ten (89.21).

Germany’s Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot lead the pairs with French ice dancers Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron topping the short dance in the fourth of the six-round Grand Prix series.

Medals will be decided with all four free skates on Saturday.

Despite Savchenko’s zipper of her dress popping the in-synch Germans skated on impressing with perfect throws, lifts, spirals and step sequences.

They scored 77.55, placing ahead of two Russian pairs — Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov (76.24) and Natalia Zabijako and Alexander Enbert (71.36).

“I was surprised when the zipper broke but it didn’t effect us too much,” said Savchenko.

Two-time world ice dancing champions Papadakis and Cizeron got their season into full swing earlier Friday.

The French duo improved their previous short programme best by two points, scoring 78.26 to lead Russia’s Elena Ilinykh and Ruslan Zhiganshin by over ten points.

Their score was second only to the 78.89 achieved by Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White’s 78.89 on the way to gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Competing in their first Grand Prix of the season, the 21-year-old dancers performed their new programme to Blues and Swing rhythms in front of their home crowd in the Paris-Bercy Arena.

“We’re delighted to start the season with a score like this,” said Cizeron.

“There are still things to improve as the season progresses which will be interesting too”

The pair will bid for third straight European and world title next year before their bid for gold at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in 2018.

© 2016 AFP

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