Russian teen skater looks unbeatable

By JAMES ELLINGWORTH

AP Sports Writer

HELSINKI — With less than a year to go until the Olympics, figure skating star Evgenia Medvedeva looks unbeatable.

On Friday, she didn’t just secure a second consecutive world title, she did it with a world record and finished 15 points ahead of her closest rival.

Unbeaten since November 2015, the 17-year-old Russian is formidably consistent. Despite the aura of invincibility that comes with her dominance, Medvedeva said her final skate pushed her to the limit of her “emotional strength.”

“There were a lot of doubtful moments where I was right on the edge of a collapse,” she said. Toward the end, “you’re skating and thinking, ‘When will this be over?'”

Medvedeva admitted to sometimes struggling with distracting thoughts she compares to “bugs in my head, scratching,” adding: “Sometimes they try to put you off and you have to cope with it, and I managed to do that today.”

Medvedeva’s free program ended with an expression of despair as her character learned she lost a loved one. It quickly turned to a broad grin of satisfaction with another impeccable skate, and a record 233.41 points.

Medvedeva’s success in winning consecutive titles bucks a recent trend for Russian skating stars to burn out after a major championship success. Both the 2014 Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova and 2015 world champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva struggled to recapture the form that took them to their greatest successes.