Figure Skating

Medvedeva misses final: “It is 100% a mental issue”

PyeongChang 2018 silver medallist Evgenia Medvedeva is hoping to overcome mental hurdles after missing Grand Prix Final 

Evgenia Medvedeva has seen better days.

After her disappointing fourth place finish at the Internationaux de France the two-time Olympic silver medallist drooped through the Patinoire Polesud arena in Grenoble.

The Russian skater did not make December's Grand Prix Final for a second consecutive year after she missed last year's event with a broken foot.

The double world champion, who was unbeaten for two years from 2015 through 2017, has now not won an event in more than a year.

"It's 100% a mental issue, I admit my mistake. I am not someone who denies them"

–Evgenia Medvedeva

Evgenia Medvedeva during the free skate at 2018 Internationaux de France

Two years ago, Medvedeva took victory in France en route to her second Grand Prix Final title.

Her second visit to the competition didn't go to plan and the skater was visibly emotional when she faced the press after the free skate.

"I admit that my weaknesses are in my head. I just wanted it so much."

Being absent at the Grand Prix final gives her extra time to assess her situation and regroup. Her next scheduled competition is not until the end of December when she will skate at the Russian Championships.

But what are the reasons for her loss of form?

A psychological battle

Medvedeva is not only fighting a mental battle when on the ice, but is also dealing with some criticism away from the rink.

Her decision to leave Russia and train with famed coach Brian Orser in Canada following her defeat at PyeongChang 2018 has not gone down well with some of the fans back home.

They've raised questions about her loyalty and have opted to throw their support unconditionally behind Olympic champion Alina Zagitova.

Dealing with the backlash from her once adoring compatriots has been a new challenge.

"Honestly I didn’t expect that everything will get to this extent. Especially to the extent of so much hate."

–Medvedeva speaking to R-Sport

As a result, Medvedeva has decided to stop using social media for now, admitting to that "my Instagram is being managed by agents."

She added that her family and friends have been instrumental in providing the support she needs.

"I have to learn how to live with all the pressure that I feel on me now. I was ready for disapproval, that people will start saying whether I am good or bad. I understood that people will be divided in two camps now."

Alina Zagitova (L) and Evgenia Medvedeva (R) with Eteri Tutberidze at PyeongChang 2018

A season of change

After her shock defeat at PyeongChang 2018 the 19-year-old decided she needed a change.

She parted ways with Eteri Tutberidze, her coach of 11 years who shaped her into the title-winning skater that she is.

She left the comforts of home in Russia and moved to Canada to join Orser.

However this season has yet to bring about the changes the teenager desired.

Medvedeva opened the season with a second place finish at the Autumn Classic where she fell in the free skate. Her first Grand Prix assignment saw her just manage the podium with a third place finish at Skate Canada.

The five-time Grand Prix winner needed victory in Grenoble to secure her a place in the Grand Prix Finals and the pressure to perform was reflected in her tense body language when out on ice. In the end, she finished fourth.

Finding a new normal

"Change takes time, and it's hard and it's really difficult."

–Jason Brown speaking to the Olympic Channel.

Medvedeva isn't the only skater undertaking a transformation.

Sochi 2014 bronze medallist Jason Brown, who failed to make the U.S. team for PyeongChang 2018, has also moved countries to join Brian Orser's team this season.

The American explained that the two of them are now in the middle of a process that involves "such big changes".

"We're both struggling a bit, we're both trying to find our way and we're both trying to find - kind of that new normal."

"We know it's going to take time, but at the same time we're athletes and it's hard to let go of wanting that result and wanting to be perfect all the time." Brown added.

The six-time Grand Prix medallist shared just how challenging it can be to address changes in skating technique, admitting that he's "never had to think as much".

He explained: "when you're making changes and you're going through some technical changes... there's a lot that goes through your head about making it right."

"You're just constantly trying to figure out how to do it and how to make it feel normal when you compete. Integrating all the technical changes is very difficult and it takes a lot of mental focus."

–Brown, speaking to the Olympic Channel

A show of support

Despite her frustrating start of this season, Medvedeva has received strong encouragement from within the skating community, including Olympic bronze medallist Ashley Wagner.

And there's still a lot to skate for this season.

At the Russian nationals, she'll face stiff competition in the form of Alina Zagitova, a resurgent Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, as well as junior jumping phenom, Alexandra Trusova.

The results of which will likely play a part in whether she is one of the three selected to represent Russia at the World Championships in March next year.

For the time being, it seems like Medvedeva has a mountain to climb as she tries to claw her way back to her title winning ways.

However she certainly has Brown convinced that she can do it. The American remains in awe of his training partner.

"Her grit and her tenacity and her strength and her resilience is insane."