Evgenia Medvedeva and Nathan Chen third after short program in Grenoble
The pressure is mounting for double Olympic silver medallist Evgenia Medvedeva after day one of competition at the ISU Grand Prix in Grenoble.
The 19-year-old scored 67.55 in her short program to sit in third but the Russian is within a half point of first place.
Japan's Mai Mihara surprisingly took the lead (67.95) in a tight competition followed by her countrywoman Rika Kihira (67.64).
Medvedeva now needs a victory in her free skate on Saturday to be guaranteed a spot at the Grand Prix Final in December.
She delivered a smooth short program but doubled at the end of her planned triple-triple combination.
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“The short program was better than at Skate Canada, but I am still disappointed with the performance. But I feel more alive than after the short program at Skate Canada. I’m in third place now and I have the opportunity to fight,” the Olympic silver medalist told ISU.
If the two-time world champion finishes runner-up on Saturday, she may be leaving her fate to someone else and risk missing the biggest annual event outside of the world championships.
Next month's final would also see her compete against Olympic champion Alina Zagitova for the first time since PyeongChang 2018.
A fall cost Chen
Reigning World Champion Nathan Chen is in a similar position, having to make up ground.
The 19-year-old earned an 86.94 score to come in third after falling during a quadruple flip.
Chen’s USA team-mate Jason Brown goes into Saturday's free skate as the man to beat.
The Sochi team bronze medallist failed to make the U.S team in PyeongChang but scored 96.41 after a clean, quad-less program to take the lead ahead of Russia’s Alexander Samarin (90.86).
This is the American's first season under new coach Brian Orser.
''Today I just tried my best to be as calm, confident and focused as I possibly could be and I did that throughout the whole program'' Brown told ISU.
Grenoble is the sixth and final event for skaters to claim a spot in the Grand Prix Final in Vancouver next month.
Chen, who landed one quad in Friday's effort, needs to finish fourth or better to guarantee qualification.
"The short program didn't go exactly as well as I wanted it to go. However, I'm glad with what I did technically today," said Chen.
Two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu is in question for the Grand Prix Final after injuring his ankle at the Rostelecom Cup in Moscow last week.
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Chen's juggling act
Chen plans to give Hanyu a run for his money in Vancouver.
The Yale freshman remains unphased about juggling college and his figure skating career.
He has been managing his two challenges by taking his homework with him to competitions, he told NBC Sports.
“My final exams are in two weeks. My Spanish final is next Tuesday, and I have a paper due next week. I brought my textbooks here. It’s a lot of new experiences.”
With his Skate America victory last month, so far things seem to be going well for the PyeongChang bronze medallist.
Although it does help when his event and school calendar’s align.
“Right now, it’s Thanksgiving break at the University, so I was able to fit this in.” Chen explained to NBC sports.