Strong start for Canadian women at ISU World Figure Skating Championships

HELSINKI – Canadians Kaetlyn Osmond and Gabrielle Daleman are in medal positions after Wednesday’s women’s short program which opened the 2017 ISU World Figure Skating Championships.

Defending champion Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia stands first with 79.01 points followed by Osmond in second with a personal best 75.98 and Daleman is third at 72.19.

It’s the first time Canada has two skaters in the top three after the women’s short program at worlds.

Both Canadians displayed bright smiles after the completion of their programs, flawlessly executing their required seven elements. Osmond inserted her three jumps (triple combo, triple Lutz and double Axel) in her first four elements before finishing with her spins and step sequences.

“I was just trying to stay calm, just stay over my feet,” said Osmond of Marystown, N.L., at her first worlds since 2014. “I’ve worked hard this year at loving that feeling to compete and perform in front of a crowd. I’ve had a lot of personal bests with this program this year and that’s a great way to finish the season with it.”

Daleman, from Newmarket, Ont., also opened with her triple toe-triple toe combo with her Lutz and Axel as her fourth and fifth elements.

“You can always improve on the quality of the spins, jumps, footwork and everything in between,” said Daleman, ninth at the worlds last season. “I’m always determined to find the little details where I can improve more. I’ve gained a lot of confidence and I knew just what I wanted to do, completely enjoyed myself and just stayed in the moment.’’

In pairs, Lubov Ilyushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch of Toronto, Ont., are the top Canadians in sixth with 73.14. Two-time world champions Meagan Duhamel of Lively, Ont., and Eric Radford of Balmertown, Ont., are seventh at 72.67 and Julianne Séguin of Longueuil, Que., and Charlie Bilodeau of Trois-Pistoles, Que., are 12th.

Radford is battling a hip injury which struck last week and which he described as “extremely frustrating.” However they went out there and produced a clean skate and expected a better placement. They are just over six points from third place.

“We were a bit surprised with how low the score was,” said Radford. “We anticipated it would be higher after a performance like that. Still it builds confidence for us for the long program.”

Radford said he has never experienced competing while injured.

“It still doesn’t feel 100 percent,” said Radford about the hip. “I was going in with a lot ‘what ifs’ in my head but I thought the way we skated was excellent for the condition I was in.”

Wenjing Sui and Cong Han of China are first at 81.23, Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany second at 79.84 and Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov of Russia third at 79.37.

Ilyushechkina and Moscovitch, competing at their third straight worlds, are looking to improve on last year’s seventh place finish. They are only five points back from third.

“We did exactly what we trained to do and came here to do,” said Moscovitch. “We continue to improve every time out. It’s a program we enjoy and it’s great to end it with a season’s best score.”

Seguin and Bilodeau competed for the first time since the Grand Prix Final in December where they placed fifth. Séguin had been dealing with a concussion in the new calendar year.

“We have an overall good feeling about our performance even though there were mistakes,” said Bilodeau. “The short program is more difficult for us right now and we are confident we can manage our free skate a lot better tomorrow (Thursday).”

Competition continues Thursday with the pairs’ free skate and men’s short program. The ladies’ free skate is Friday.

Full results:

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