World champ Medvedeva leads NHK Trophy after short program

BY AP • November 10, 2017

OSAKA, Japan (AP) Two-time world champion Evgenia Medvedeva took the lead at the NHK Trophy after Friday's short program.

Skating to Nocturne, Medvedeva hit all her jumps at Osaka Municipal Gymnasium and received 79.99 points.

Carolina Kostner of Italy was next with 74.57 points, followed by Polina Tsurskaya of Russia with 70.04.

Medvedeva won the Rostelecom Cup at home in Russia last month and is in Osaka looking to earn a place at next month's Grand Prix Final in Nagoya, Japan.

Her short program included a triple flip-triple toe loop combination, a triple loop and a double axel.

''After today's performance I don't have too many emotions because I still have to do the free skating tomorrow,'' Medvedeva said. ''It was an OK performance, I could do some things better, the double axel for example. In the free program, I want to show elegance and I want to give joy to the people who are watching.''

Kostner's performance to ''Ne Me Quitte Pas'' featured a triple toe-triple toe combination, a triple loop and a double axel.

''After I got off the ice, I wasn't sure if I was satisfied or not,'' the 2012 world champion said. ''Now, that some time has passed, I am very happy about how I skated. Today was more of a fight. You have days when it is not so easy and you need to get into that fighting mode. Today I was able to do that and I'm happy that I did it.''

In the pairs short program, world champions Wenjing Sui and Cong Han were in first place.

Skating to ''Hallelujah,'' the Chinese duo scored 79.43 points to finish ahead Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov.

Earlier Friday, Yuzuru Hanyu withdrew from the event after injuring his ankle in practice, a setback that could have a serious impact on his preparations for an Olympic title defense.

The 22-year-old Hanyu withdrew before the short program, a day after falling while attempting a quadruple lutz in practice, and three months before the Pyeongchang Olympics.

He appeared to be favoring his right ankle but did not leave practice on Thursday. He skated during the run through for his free skate, although he did not do any further jumps.

Hanyu said in a statement he will go through treatment with an eye toward taking part in the Dec. 19-24 Japan nationals.

Russian skater Sergei Voronov led after the men's short program with 90.06 points. Alexi Bychenko of Israel was second with 85.52 points, while Jason Brown of the United States was third with 85.36.

The NHK is the fourth event of the International Skating Union's Grand Prix series. The men's, women's and pairs free skate is on Saturday.

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