Two-time world champion Evgenia Medvedeva grabbed the lead at the NHK Trophy with a score of 79.99 points in the short program on Friday night. The Russian was her usual sublime self while skating to “Nocturne,” executing element after element nearly flawlessly.
Sochi bronze medalist Carolina Kostner is in second place with 74.57 heading into Saturday’s free skate, while Medvedeva’s compatriot Polina Tsurskaya is third on 70.04.
The first night of the competition was greatly overshadowed by the late withdrawal of world and Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu on Friday afternoon due to an injured lateral ligament in his right ankle. Hanyu hurt himself while attempting a quadruple lutz at practice on Thursday and was advised by doctors not to participate here.
Two-time world champion Evgenia Medvedeva won the NHK Trophy on Saturday to secure a place in the International Skating Union's Grand Prix final.
The Russian, who was first after the short program, recovered from a shaky start to win the free skate for a total of 224.39 points.
Canada's Alaine Chartrand finished 11th with 159.36.
Medvedeva fell on her opening triple flip, which was supposed to be a combinations jump, and two-footed a triple lutz but nailed the rest of her jumps. Combined with her win at Cup of Russia last month, Medvedeva booked her place at the Dec. 7-10 Grand Prix final in Nagoya, Japan.
"I'm not satisfied with my free program," Medvedeva said. "But I'm glad I did the combination in the second half which was the best part of my program."
Russia’s Sergei Voronov eased to victory in Japan’s grand prix on Saturday with an elegant, melancholy short program and his compatriot Evgenia Medvedeva won the women’s event.
In the absence of favorites Yuzuru Hanyu and Patrick Chan, the 30-year-old Voronov topped a podium filled with experienced skaters in a sport that seems increasingly focused on quad jumps and youthful energy.
Adam Rippon of the United States celebrated his 28th birthday by taking second while 29-year-old Andrei Bychenko of Israel, who will soon turn 30, was third.
“With 30 years, you just start to flourish in life,” Voronov said on Friday.
“The most important thing is that you love what you are doing. If we didn’t love it, we couldn’t do it.”