Hello and welcome to the first day of competition at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2021 in Stockholm.
Olympic Channel is live blogging the event all week, and Wednesday 24 March saw the ladies' singles and pairs skaters get their Championships underway with the short programs. Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii took the pairs short, while Anna Shcherbakova leads the ladies'.
All times are local to host country Sweden (Central European Time/CET). Most recent updates first.
11:20 pm - What a first day
Well, that was a long and tiring but fascinating and entertaining day of skating, wasn't it?
It's good to finally have international figure skating back.
Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii, and their compatriot Anna Shcherbakova, top the standings in pairs and ladies' singles after today's short programs.
Action begins tomorrow at 11:40 am local time and we'll be back with our live blog from just before then.
11:10 pm - Boikova and Kozlovskii discuss change of music
Boikova and Kozlovskii changed their program on fairly short notice before the Worlds, and were asked about it in the press conference.
"We're really happy we changed our music. We're trying to project our love and happiness and hope for the best times," Boikova explained in English, before Kozlovskii added in Russian: "We do not want to repeat ourselves and we want to try different styles. We don't want to always be the same."
Kozlovskii explained: "We wanted to add more emotions, positive emotions and fresh energy."
How did they decide on what music to use?
"I opened our fan group on Instagram and there was a video with this music," Boikova laughed. "I showed it to our coaches and we decided to try it."
11:00 pm - Han on returning to compete after year off
For Sui and Han, this is their first competition in over a year, as they did not compete at the Cup of China.
Despite this and their small error, they still performed well enough to finish second today. Here's what Han had to say about that:
"Returning to competition and doing well, and showing our standard, is the result of our many years of hard training. It shows our foundation is quite strong.
"Although our training time has been short, on the ice our result is still strong. Our goal is to outdo ourselves."
10:55 pm - Reaction to competing again
The top three from that pairs short program have been speaking at the press conference and reacting to being back out on the ice in an international competition.
Dimitrii Kozlovskii, speaking in Russian: "This is the first day, the first day of the comeback of figure skating into the world after the quarantine. We're very proud to be proud of the story."
Sui Wenjing, speaking in English: "[There's] no audience here but we still see our teammates, and some athletes who come to see the competition. So we just enjoy like before."
Anastasia Mishina, in English: "We are very happy to be here, I was really scared this competition wouldn't happen because of the virus. We're very happy to see our friends. It's really a good feeling to be back."
Aleksandr Galliamov, in Russian: "We are very happy that we're able to compete at such a major event. We were really looking forward to it and we want to cheer up the fans and want to thank them for their support. We hope to make them happy in the free skating."
More quotes to follow.
10:16 pm - Moore-Towers/Marinaro off the pace
Moore-Towers and Marinaro are last on the ice today.
The triple twist catch looked tight and iffy, not great. That'll be marked down.
Side-by-side triple toe also marked down as Moore-Towers turns out of it, and unfortunately on the throw triple loop it looks like she also struggled on the landing.
Marked down on the Change Foot Combo Spin, too. Oh dear, it's all going wrong.
A big hug between the two at the end and clear disappointment from both. This won't threaten Boikova/Kozlovskii.
It's 63.45 points, only 10th, and Moore-Towers looks upset in the kiss and cry as Marinaro puts his arm around her to console her.
10:10 pm - Disappointment for Peng
Peng and Jin start off on the wrong foot as she trips and falls, then the pair jump – a triple toe – gets marked down as Peng puts her hand down.
The throw jump and the twist are both fine but the pair will be struggling to crack the top three.
Oh, hang on, has Peng's costume ripped? It looks like it has, at the side. Maybe that threw her off on the triple toe?
That's 71.32 for the Chinese pair, into fifth.
10:04 pm - Superb from Boikova/Kozlovskii
Another FSR team now, in Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii.
They open with the triple Salchow, which is landed cleanly by both, although not sure about the synch on that.
The triple twist is fine, and Boikova flies beautifully through the air on the throw triple flip.
Everything else is SOLID.
Boikova LOVES it, dancing around the ice after the music ends. This ought to overtake Sui and Han.
The 2020 European Championships winners are indeed into the lead with just two pairs left. It's 80.16 points, the first pair into the 80s.
9:57 pm - Tarasova and Morozov setback
Up first in the final group, FSR's Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov.
They're performing to a classic, too: Maurice Ravel's Boléro.
Wow! What a triple twist lift! That's lovely! I think that may be the highest Grade of Execution we've seen yet today on the triple twist.
Oh no – the side by side triple toe lets them down. Tarasova completely spun out of that and that may be a downgrade.
Lands the throw triple loop nicely.
That routine is beautiful when performed perfectly. Sadly for them, this was not perfect.
It scores 71.46, good for third with three pairs to go. So at the very least, they will be in the final group tomorrow.
9:44 pm - Last four pairs
Austrians Miriam Ziegler and Severin Kiefer slot into sixth, with Italy's Nicole Della Monica and Matteo Guarise rounding out this fifth group.
The Italians are performing to Let It Be. The opening triple Salchow is popped to a double by Della Monica, and the catch on the throw triple twist looks perhaps a touch low.
The throw triple loop goes nowhere, and Della Monica falls on it. Ouch.
It's a disappointing provisional seventh for them.
Left to skate: two FSR pairs, China's other team of Peng Cheng/Jin Yang, and Canadians Kirsten Moore-Towers/Michael Marinaro.
9:31 pm - Sui/Han overcome mistake to lead
Now, the defending champions from 2019: Sui Wenjing and Han Cong of China, skating to Blues for Klook.
Oh, hang on. The opening triple toe loop side-by-side isn't good from Sui. She stepped out of it.
They recover with a brilliant throw triple flip, and the triple twist lift is solid too.
And despite that mistake on the toe loop, that may still be enough to overtake Mishina and Galliamov, it was that good.
77.62 points – yep, into the lead.
Reacting in the mixed zone to her error, Sui said: "I think we had a little problem in the first element; it's our first competition of the season.
"I hope tomorrow we can prepare to show our best. We want to show all the audience our program. This time is much different from before; no audience here. Our fans are watching on TV to see our programs. I think it's been different for us.
"We are getting prepared for the upcoming Olympic Games. It's pretty challenging for us, but we are gradually getting back on track and hope to show our best performance."
9:24 pm - Mishina/Galliamov stunning
Here's the first pair of the top two groups, FSR's Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov.
The triple twist lift is superb, the first really clean one we've seen today.
No fault on the throw triple Lutz either, nor the side-by-side triple Salchow jumps. Lovely stuff.
What a routine! Beautiful.
This will go straight into the lead. Nearly six points better than Cain-Gribble and LeDuc on the technical elements.
75.79 points which is 11 points clear of the Americans.
9:14 pm - Méité thanks fans for support
8:56 pm - New leaders Cain-Gribble/LeDuc
We have new leaders!
Knierim and Frazier held on at the top admirably but their teammates Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc have skated nicely here to overtake the long-term leaders.
There was a fall from Cain-Gribble on the triple Salchow, but the rest of the program was enough. It puts them ahead of Knierim/Frazier by just under 0.3 points.
Now time for ice resurfacing.
8:50 pm - Not to be for Brits
Unfortunately, not to be for Jones and Boyadji today.
Their technical elements were worth less than the other pairs and there were a couple of mistakes and falls in there.
Just a bad day at the office. 15th out of 15 pairs for them.
Nine to go.
8:30 pm - Zoe Jones still going strong
So, Group 4 are now on the ice for warm-ups.
This group includes Zoe Jones of Great Britain, who continues to skate at the very top level even at 41 years old.
She is partnered by Christopher Boyadji; the pair have a top Worlds finish of 17th in 2019.
8:05 pm - What makes Knierim/Frazier tick?
So, with Group 3 now out on the ice, it's worth reminding ourselves of our current leaders, U.S. champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier.
Nick spoke to them in January, and you can read that piece here.
In it, Knierim – who won Olympic team bronze with husband Chris in 2018 – discussed her connection with Frazier:
"I consider him like a best friend of mine. I have no problem spending time outside of the rink with him because we just have fun and we share the same sense of humour."
Meanwhile, we've just had a shot of Maé-Bérénice Méité in the stands, with her left leg in a cast and crutches by her side. She seems in relatively better spirits, but the French Ice Sports Federation says she suffered a torn Achilles during her routine earlier today.
We wish her a speedy recovery.
7:35 pm - Expert coaching
Three of the four pairs in this second group of competitors can count on some expert coaching from very successful pairs skaters in their own right.
Croatia's Lana Petranovic / Antonio Souza Kordeiru are coached by Sochi 2014 Olympic silver medallist Fedor Klimov; Germany's Annika Hocke / Robert Kunkel have PyeongChang 2018 Olympic champion Aljona Savchenko in their corner; and Miura Riku / Kihara Ryuichi of Japan are coached by two-time world champion in the discipline Meagan Duhamel.
A beautiful performance from Miura and Kihara, the Japanese pair, to k.d. lang's version of Hallelujah.
Their other coach Bruno Marcotte looks happy. Sure, there were a few issues on the jump and throw elements, but that choreo was something to behold.
Miura / Kihara score 64.37, putting them second behind Knierim / Frazier through the first eight pairs by just 0.3 points.
6:55 pm - Knierim/Frazier stutter
So, here they are. Scimeca Knierim and Frazier are up.
Technically, they are leaps and bounds ahead of almost everyone else in the first two groups, and perhaps the first three.
Today they're skating to a cover medley of In The End/Too Far Gone.
The opening triple twist lift is fine, but there's an issue – they're listed for a triple toeloop side-by-side and Frazier pops his down to a double.
A throw triple loop follows and does Knierim touch her free foot to the ice? I think she may have, looking at the replay.
I think they will be disappointed with that. Knierim gives Frazier a reassuring hug as they salute the four sides of the mostly-empty arena.
They will still go into the lead, but nowhere near as clean as they are capable of.
It's a 64.67, some 10 points clear of the second-placed pair of Zhuk and Bidar, for now.
6:35 pm - U.S. champs in first group
Perhaps the most intriguing pair in this opening group is the one that will skate third, Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Brandon Frazier of the USA.
It's not common to see American skaters in the first group at Worlds, but that's the case here for this relatively new pair.
Despite their newness working together, Knierim and Frazier are the American national champions.
6:30 pm - Welcome back
Welcome back to Stockholm, where the first group of pairs skaters is about to take to the ice for their warm-ups.
There are six groups of four pairs each, with the top 20 pairs proceeding to tomorrow's free skate.
That means only four unlucky teams will miss out on making it past today's short program.
Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, the defending champions, skate 18th.
Don't forget, you can get in touch with me on Twitter.
4:55 pm - Full ladies' presser
While we take a quick break on the blog, you can watch the full ladies' short program press conference below.
We'll be back for the pairs short program at 6:30 pm.
4:52 pm - Tuktamysheva: "No surprises" in free
Will we see a quadruple jump from Elizaveta Tuktamysheva in the free skate?
"I can jump the quad toe, yes, but for me it's more important to skate clean and strong here in Stockholm," she said (in English) in response to a question from Olympic Channel's Ekaterina Kuznetsova.
"So I will not do the quad toe in the free program, because I just want to show a good performance. I think with two triple Axels it's already good content for me. So no surprises, I think.
"I've already won by being here, and I'm already so happy about it."
On her skate today, she reflected:
"I was nervous about how it would feel to skate the World Championships without people, but when I came to the ice, I had only one thing - I had to do the program, so it wasn't strange for me. It was more calm, I think, without the whole audience and I feel maybe not as nervous as if there was 1000 people around me. So I think it was okay for me.
"When I realised I would go to the World Championships, I had more emotions and my preparations before these Championships were so good. I really like the process; I really like to practice, maybe because of this I am in good shape now. I'm just enjoying that I'm here."
4:45 pm - Shcherbakova happy to be competing again
We've been hearing from Anna Shcherbakova – in English – in the press conference, and she's been sharing her joy at being able to compete internationally again.
"I'm very happy that the World Championships were not cancelled; that we are here and we can compete. That's the most important thing.
"Of course, I'm sad that there's no audience, maybe because of this I was more nervous than usually.
"The best moment is that we're here, because it's the first international competition this year. I was very sad when the previous international competitions were cancelled.
"Tomorrow we will have a day, just a training day, between the short and free programs so I will have time to have a rest and to train, to think more about my free skating and to get concentrated for our free program."
4:30 pm - Meryl Davis reacts
Here's what Olympic ice dance champion Meryl Davis had to say about Anna Shcherbakova's winning short program:
"Undoubtedly, the performance of the night. From her fingers to her toes, Anna's elegance was on full display throughout that short program. From the moment she hit that opening position, there was a confidence to her performance and it was such a pleasure to watch."
And also her thoughts on the lead U.S. woman after today, Karen Chen:
"What an exciting night for Karen! As a fan of hers, I was so happy to see Karen deliver that performance tonight. That's exactly what she would have visualised coming into these championships and a joy to watch. Great position for her to be in going into the free program."
4:05 pm - Reaction from Trusova and Shcherbakova
So, we'll hear in a bit more depth from Shcherbakova, Kihira, and Tuktamysheva in the press conference as they are the top three after the short.
But we've had the chance to listen to Trusova's and Shcherbakova's immediate reactions.
First, Trusova, after her disappointing skate:
"I think I didn't manage with my nerves, lately I feel very nervous at the competitions," she said.
"[The triple Axel] didn't work out in the morning, so we decided it was better to jump the double." Trusova explained of only doing a double Axel.
"I have to think about it and will try to skate clean," she said of rebounding for the free.
And Shcherbakova: "In general the whole skate was full of nerves. I had to watch every move, in general I am very satisfied that it all worked out.
"I am most satisfied with my combination, it was the hardest jump in my program, and the most important one."
3:58 pm - Kihira misses out!
Now, the final skater, Kihira Rika of Japan. Now trained jointly by Hamada Mie in Japan and Stéphane Lambiel in Champéry, Switzerland.
Skating in a red and black number, Kihira lands her opening triple Axel. On the quarter?
Triple flip, triple toe, and she'll be happy with that combination. Solid stuff. The toe might have been called on the quarter too.
A solid triple Lutz to close out the jumping elements.
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, this could well put her into first!
And what a fantastic choreography by Benoît Richaud.
Both Hamada and Lambiel are delighted as Kihira comes off the ice. Hamada couldn't hide her delight!
And… hang on! This has been scored 79.08 points for second! Anna Shcherbakova takes the ladies' short program.
A reminder that for the free skate, the top 24 will go in reverse order of their short program finish. There will be no separate draw.
3:50 pm - Tennell in sixth
Wearing an all-black outfit, here's USA's Bradie Tennell skating to Florence and the Machine's Moderation.
A double Axel to kick things off but surprise on the combination.
Tennell's triple Lutz, triple toe has been popped to a triple Lutz, double toe. This doesn't look like a particularly comfortable skate.
Clean triple flip.
Bradie Tennell's routines are always fun to watch but I wonder what went on there today with the combination. Her teammates in the stands, notably Jason Brown, are whooping and cheering her on.
Unfortunately, this won't threaten the top of the standings.
It's 69.87, only good for sixth with one skater to go. She's behind teammate Karen Chen, too.
3:43 pm - Miyahara falls
Miyahara Satoko is up next.
The Japanese falls on her opening triple Lutz, but makes up for it with her double Axel.
That Lutz should have been in combo with a triple toe, so she'll have to make up for that on her last jumping element.
She was originally down for a triple loop, which she goes for and I don't really know what happened there. She almost spun herself out of the loop and managed to get hints of a second jump off, but not successfully. It's gone down as a triple loop, single toe loop combination.
Oh dear. This will find her a ways down the standings.
Her provisional technical score is under 28 points – the current highest-placed skater with a TES that low is Ekaterina Kurakova in 29th.
Miyahara's program components pull her up. It's 59.99, placing her 14th with two to go.
3:37 pm - Only fifth for Sakamoto
Skating to some JS Bach, here's Sakamoto Kaori, the first of the three Japanese contenders.
A lovely double Axel. Triple Lutz looks nice too. But a slight issue on her triple flip, triple toe combination as she holds on to the landing of the toe loop.
Sakamoto laughs as she finishes her routine. Always such a nice skater to watch, easy on the eye.
It's great to see her enjoying the skate. She crosses her fingers in the kiss and cry.
70.38, which is definitely lower than she expected based on that surprised reaction. That puts her provisionally fifth.
3:31 pm - New PB for Shcherbakova
Here comes Anna Shcherbakova.
What can the Russian national champion produce?
Double Axel and a triple flip, both cleanly performed.
A very nice triple Lutz, triple loop for her combination. Shcherbakova is one of the few skaters here not doing her triple Lutz in combination with a toeloop.
That was nice from Shcherbakova, who also did very well on the spins and step sequence. A huge grin on her face as she comes off ice to be met by Daniil Gleichengauz.
Even without the triple Axel, her technical scores are rivalling those of Tuktamysheva's.
Yep, into the lead. Comfortably. This is 81.00. Her eyes widen as she sees the score. That is a new personal best.
3:24 pm - No combination for Trusova; just a double Axel
Here we go then, time for the final group.
First to skate, Alexandra Trusova of FSR.
Remember, she, like Tuktamysheva, has a triple Axel. But she chooses not to do it? Just a double Axel to start. That didn't look popped. Interesting. Russian television commentary from Alexei Yagudin reporting that that decision was intentional, after she struggled on a triple in practice.
Triple flip, which is fine, then she completely messes up her triple Lutz which was meant to be in combination with a triple toe.
She completely loses her balance on an attempted Rippon of that Lutz, takes an extra step, and nearly puts a hand down for balance. No combination for Trusova and she immediately faces a fight on her hands in the free skate!
She's going to need every one of her five planned quads.
Trusova is still smiling in the kiss and cry but this is only 64.82 and eighth place provisionally!
3:12 pm - Tuktamysheva reacts
We've just heard from Elizaveta Tuktamysheva in the mixed zone, talking about her triple Axel:
"A lot has happened in these past six years [since she last competed at Worlds and landed a 3A], but I think during these past few years I have become way more confident in this jump and today's performance I consider to be a little better than the one six years ago.
"I made my combination a little more complicated, it used to be toe loop-toe loop, now it's Lutz-toe loop. There is a progress in this. In terms of my program, I am satisfied with it and I love it, I am glad that we did it well here at the World Championships."
Meanwhile, Germany's Nicole Schott struggled on her skate but scored highly enough on her program components to place her provisional 13th. A similar story from Estonia's Eva-Lotte Kiibus, who overtakes Schott for 13th. Paganini remains just on the wrong side of the cut-off.
Group 7 follows.
2:59 pm - Ryabova and Kim both through
That help for Paganini won't come from Ekaterina Ryabova, who looks somewhat bemused at her 64.11 which puts her provisionally seventh.
Kim Ye-lim, the Korean champion, is on the ice now. A beautiful triple Lutz, triple toe to open; Kim Rippons the Lutz nicely, with her arms over her head. Almost effortless as she cut through the air.
Triple flip, landed cleanly after an earlier double Axel. Won't challenge the top skaters to come in Group 7, but this may for now see her challenge Karen Chen. Let's find out…
73.63 is very, very strong. Kim can't believe it, she's delighted! Less than a point behind Chen, and a new personal best score.
2:46 pm - Paganini struggles
A rough performance for Switzerland's Alexia Paganini, who just about hangs on to the Lutz in her opening triple Lutz, triple toe combination and puts her foot down on the toe.
Later in her routine, she doubles an intended triple loop.
She'll know this could have been a lot better.
It's 57.23 and puts her 15th, on the bubble – she'll need at least one of the remaining skaters to finish below her if she wants to qualify.
2:39 pm - Tuktamysheva into the lead
Tuktamysheva is up first, skating in a black outfit to Billie Eilish and DJ Khaled's Lovely.
This arena, the Ericsson Globe, was the site of one of her last major triumphs, the 2015 European Championships, two months before she won the world title in Shanghai, China.
'Liza', representing the Figure Skating Federation of Russia (FSR), has not been back to the Worlds since – until now.
A triple Axel, clean, to open. She's one of just three skaters, alongside Trusova and Japan's Kihira Rika, to have that jump listed in their short program.
She follows with a triple Lutz, triple toe.
A triple flip rounds out her three jump elements. Absolutely no complaints. A level 3 on the step sequence, but everything else was superb. She'll be pleased with what she's laid down here.
Alexei Mishin, her coach, definitely looks very happy. It's 78.86 points, she's happy with that. That's four points ahead of Chen.
2:07 pm - Group 6 up next
Group 6, featuring the first of our possible medal challengers in 2015 world champ Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, will be on the ice next after a quick 15-minute ice resurfacing.
Karen Chen continues to lead through the first 25 complete routines.
"I want to deliver the free skate that I know I'm capable of," she told the media in the virtual mixed zone. "I am yet to show that at Skate America or nationals, so I feel like this is the time.
"Coming here I was so focused on skating and enjoying the moment. I didn't feel about what score I wanted or what placement [I wanted]. I feel really happy with myself."
And remember our two skaters "on the bubble"? Both Chen and McKay will indeed be in the free skate after confirming top-24 finishes.
Group 6 takes warm-ups at 2:25 pm. That group includes Tuktamysheva; Alexia Paganini; Ekaterina Ryabova; Kim Ye-lim; Nicole Schott; and Eva-Lotte Kiibus.
We've just had a little wave from Evgeni Plushenko as the camera focuses on him. His student Alexandra Trusova, one of the favourites, is due in Group 7.
1:48pm - Méité falls and can't continue
France's Maé-Bérénice Méité has fallen on a triple toe attempt and she has hurt herself pretty badly. It looks like it's her left ankle, perhaps on takeoff.
She is grimacing in pain and is unable to continue. She's barely skating on her own weight.
The medics take a while to get onto the ice to help her off.
Not what we wanted to see as she leaves the ice in tears.
1:45 pm - On the bubble
We're now into Group 5, with Ekaterina Kurakova of Poland, the first skater, suffering a fall and finishing only 17th, likely out of the top 24 who will qualify for the free skate.
Currently on the bubble, so to speak – China's Chen Hongyi and Great Britain's Natasha McKay are in ninth and 10th, and will be watching the remaining skaters nervously to find out if they make it into the free skate.
We've just seen USA's Karen Chen lay down a beautiful skate to Katy Perry's Rise, and this should see her into provisional first place ahead of Lee Hae-in of South Korea.
It's 74.40, some five and a half points ahead of Lee. That's her personal best by over seven points!
1:15pm - Leung hurt in practice
The ISU has just confirmed Leung's withdrawal in a statement.
"According to the medical bulletin, Leung sustained an injury during practice."
There's no further word on what kind of injury it was.
1:07 pm - Withdrawal of Leung
Good afternoon – this is ZK Goh, taking over from Nick on the blog now. You can reach me on Twitter if you'd like to get in touch.
Some news as we continue to follow the early groups in the ladies' short program: Hong Kong China's Yi Christy Leung has withdrawn from the competition and will not take her place skating in Group 5.
We'll bring you more information on a reason as soon as we get it.
12:31pm - Canadian teen Schizas leads after three groups
Is Madeline Schizas the ladies' star that Canada has been waiting for? The country, with a rich skating history, has been in search of its next big hope after PyeongChang bronze medallist and 2018 world champ Kaetlyn Osmond stepped away from the sport.
Enter Madeline, who appeared ready to step into the limelight and certainly showed steely stuff on Wednesday in just her second senior international event at age 18.
Her 68.77 leads after three groups and 15 skaters. She has guaranteed her spot in the free skate. She spoke to reporters in the mixed zone after her short program, which featured a triple Lutz-triple toe combo, a triple loop and a double Axel.
On her worlds debut: "It is so incredible to compete here this week. This is my second senior international event ever. I watched some of [the other skaters] back when worlds was in Canada in 2013. I'm really proud of the performance I put out tonight."
On her time off due to the pandemic: "I was off of the ice for a few months. My training has been pretty consistent - and I credit that for where my skating is right now."
On the jump combo that helped her earn a 38.48 in her technical score: "I feel very confident in my [triple Lutz-triple toe]."
In what has her oozing confidence at worlds: "I added new content to my programs. The combinations are new. I've been doing a lot of good work at home. I was really well trained, I think."
On hoping to qualify for the Beijing Olympics: "Obviously that's my goal. This is the first step in that. I feel really happy."
On who she's looked up to: "I'm really lucky to have been in person to watch Joannie Rochette at the 2010 Olympics. I look up to her so much. I've never met her."
12:13pm - Olympic Channel podcast - Evgenia Medvedeva: 'I had already proved everything'
"After the Olympics I was trying to prove [to everyone] something," Medvedeva told Ekaterina Kuznetsova. "But now, looking back, I realize I had already proved everything. I love figure skating. I like to see the happy faces on children, to see the audience reacting [to me]."
Medvedeva contracted Covid-19 this season and also struggled with a back injury, denying her any competitive events. She also made a move back from Toronto to train with Eteri Tutberidze's team, re-joining her former coach.
What's next for the fan favourite? It's unclear.
"When your body is always in pain, it's really difficult to wake up every morning and go to practice when you know that you feel pain. I'm doing my best. That's it... it's the only thing I can tell you now. Everything is changing so fast." Listen to the full episode below.
WATCH: Medvedeva speaks to Olympic Channel (2021)
11:49am - Final group of ladies will bring the fire
We still have plenty of time before the final two groups of ladies, but that's where the competition will really heat up.
We've already mentioned the quad jumps by Trusova, some five of them planned in the free skate. She, Kihira and Tuktamysheva have planned triple Axels in the short program, which - especially for Trusova and Kihira - could be a difference maker when it comes down to the podium. Or which colour medal they win.
Tennell and fellow American Karen Chen are trying to earn back a third spot for the U.S. women. In 2017, Chen did just that with teammate Ashley Wagner at worlds. This event is used for Olympic qualification spots for each country, but not for skaters individually.
The U.S. will need to combine for 13 or under (i.e. 5th and 8th) to get back that third spot. Both the Russian skating federation and Japan look to be a near-lock to have three spots for Beijing 2022.
Tennell recently spoke to Olympic Channel about that said third spot: "Yeah, that's a very big goal of ours. That’s definitely something I'm shooting for."
11:04am - Van Zundert leads after first group
Five skaters down, 34 to go. It's early days in the ladies' short program, but the dreaded "first to skate" position for the Netherlands' Lindsay van Zundert (below) has actually served her well.
The Dutch skater leads after Group 1, a 57.72 putting her in first place. Only 24 of 39 skaters will advance to the free skate. In 2019, the last time worlds was held, the score cutoff was 55.20. Van Zundert hit a triple loop-double toe in combination, followed by a triple Lutz and double Axel.
Sixteen van Zundert is making her worlds debut, much like 18-year-old Emilea Zingas, who was born in the United States but represents Cyprus, where her father and paternal grandparents are from.
She's the first skater to represent the small island nation in figure skating worlds history.
"It's really inspiring just to know that I'm on that level now and have the opportunity to compete," she recently told a local Michigan newspaper, where she lives. "I've worked really hard for it and I'm happy that it's being reflected in my scores."
"My grandparents especially are really proud of me. [I'm] embracing where my family is from," she said, adding she's been a dual citizen for a long time.
(Zingas h/t @SylviaUnseen on Twitter)
10:24am - A busy Tuesday: Trusova's quads, Hanyu and Chen on the practice ice
What'd you miss yesterday? A lot, actually. It was the second day of official practice in Stockholm, with the likes of Hanyu Yuzuru, Nathan Chen, Vincent Zhou, Alexandra Trusova, Kihira Rika and many more hitting the ice.
We covered all the action yesterday, as well. See the Tuesday live blog here.
The highlight, perhaps was the news that Trusova hit five quadruple jumps (yes, you read that right) in her practice session.
She is planning as many in her free skate Friday night, including the flip, Salchow, Lutz and toe.
Trusova is also looking to hit a triple Axel for the first time in international competition. She has one planned for the short program, joining only Kihira and fellow Figure Skating Federation of Russia (FSR) skater Elizaveta Tuktamysheva to plan a triple Axel in the ladies' short.
10:00am - Competition day has arrived! Ladies short to kick things off
Good morning, afternoon, evening or night! Wherever you're reading this, happy Day 1 of the ISU World Figure Skating Championships.
I'm Nick McCarvel, part of the team that will be bringing you as many bits and bobs from the action in Stockholm, Sweden. We're covering the event at a safe distance - from home! - this week/end, and hope you're enjoying it much the same as no fans are allowed on site at the Ericsson Globe.
Right, the skating. It's the ladies that are kicking things off from 10am local time in Stockholm, with seven groups and 39 skaters rostered in, the highest-ranked skaters internationally appearing in Groups 6 and 7. See the full starting order here.
If you're tuning in for the best of the best, the final group is set to hit the ice at 1:18pm local time.
The pairs short program will follow this evening after an opening ceremony, beginning at 6:30pm local time.
Feel free to tweet at me @NickMcCarvel. I'll be joined by others from the Olympic Channel team later today. If you need help finding out how you can watch the skating, the ISU has linked to its TV broadcast page in their tweet below.
Full schedule of skating - and practice for 24 March
Here's the schedule for Wednesday 24th March, the first day of competition:
Ladies' singles practice - 6 am
Ladies' singles short program - 10 am
Pairs practice - 7 am
Men's singles practice - 10:30 am
Ice dance practice - 2:30 pm
Opening Ceremony - 5:30 pm
Pairs short program - 6:30 pm