Somehow, we are done with 14 days and 242 programs from the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. It was a marathon, but as with all figure skating competitions, the marathon was made up of a whole bunch of sprints. And the final sprint was the ladies free skate. The top four after the short ended up the same - Alina Zagitova became the new Olympic champion, beating out training mate and friend, Evgenia Medvedeva, to win the first gold for the Olympic Athletes from Russia.
Recap/videos: Ladies free skate
Base value again
Once again, just as it was in the short program, it was the base value that won out for Zagitova. Her technical content was just too much to overcome, and Medvedeva needed a major mistake from her to really have a shot at catching up here.
At the start of the season, Medvedeva experimented with putting six jumping passes in the second half of her program but ultimately chose to scrap that for a more comfortable layout. That 10% bonus in the second half would have made the difference between gold and silver had she gone back to that layout, but her lutz edge is more iffy later on the program. Ultimately, the decision was made to go with the safer layout. But for her, it may have been the most emotional we've ever seen her skate and react. She laid it all out there.
She noted in the press conference that this result gave her the impetus to increase her technical content for the future. It will no doubt be fuel for her for the seasons to come.
It was a question the skating world has had for the whole season - can Kaetlyn Osmond figure it out? Can she get out of her own head and skate two strong programs on the biggest stage? She proved it in the short, and she did it again in the free.
She did it with the most mature and choreographically sophisticated free skate of her career. And it was my favorite skate of the day - bold, powerful, and skated full out. Her one error was a step out of her lutz, which likely helped her not overthink the rest of her program.
For a skater who almost quit a few years ago after a broken leg, Osmond came back like a champion - and now a three-time Olympic medalist.
Champions beget champions
If history is any indication, Russia is just at the beginning of a long line of great female skaters. It's now two in a row for Russia at the Olympics for the ladies' event. There is already a very long line of Russian women with all the jumping talent and consistency to make the next four years interesting.
Whereas Adelina Sotnikova won her gold four years ago and never really got back into the spotlight in skating, I expect Medvedeva and Zagitova to maintain their rivalry over the next few seasons at the very least. Medvedeva is the first Russian woman of her generation to grow up and keep her jumps consistent. Zagitova is yet untested in that realm - we will have to see how well her jumps maintain, though her great technique indicates that she's got a good shot to battling her growth over the next few years.
In praise of Miyahara
The top four free skates from the women were four of the most phenomenal skates we've ever had. Satoko Miyahara ended up just off the podium, but when you consider how her season has gone - injury, recovery, inconsistency - for her to come back and peak at the Olympics even though her confidence was not high was phenomenal.
All four free skates were amazing, and Osmond and Miyahara delivered my two favorites of the day.