Record-breaker Medvedeva soars to second figure skating world gold

Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia reacts after performing her routine in the woman's Free Skating event at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Helsinki, Finland on March 31, 2017

Russian teen Evgenia Medvedeva soared to a second straight women's gold with a record-breaking free skate at the world figure skating championship on Friday setting herself up as Olympic favourite next year.

The 17-year-old from Moscow led all the way to crush her rivals finishing over 15 points ahead of silver medallist Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada.

Canada took two podium places for the first time with Gabrielle Daleman a distant third in Helsinki's Hartwall Arena.

"These two world championships were very different for me," said Medvedeva after defending the gold she won on her debut senior season in 2016.

"Last year was very new and now I am more experienced, I just wanted to show what I have learned and the progress I have made."

Despite the pressure she glided across the ice delivering a powerful and emotional skate to the music from the film, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which depicts events surrounding the September 11, 2001 attacks.

She nailed eleven jumps including five triples linked by intricate and balletic steps to continue her unbeaten run to ten consecutive competitions.

Her performance also gave her a new best mark of 154.40 in the free skate for a record overall total of 233.41 -- bettering her own previous bests in both by over three points -- and drawing applause even from her rivals.

"After she skated I applauded because she's such a beautiful and amazing skater," said Daleman. "She's also a good friend and just to be able to skate like her is what I aspire to."

The European champion becomes the first woman since Michelle Kwan in 2001 to win back-to-back world titles.

Osmond, 21, scored 218.13, and 19-year-old Daleman, 213.52, for their first world medals to put Canada back on the women's podium for the first time since 2009.

In the final world championships before next year's Winter Olympics, the Canadian skaters also clinched three spots for their country in the women's event in Pyeongchang.

Russia and the United States will also have three competitors in South Korea but not Japan who lose one of theirs despite Four Continents winner Mai Mihara rallying from 15th after the short programme to fifth.

Wakaba Higuchi dropped to 11th and Rika Hongo 16th, leaving Japan with two places, along with Italy, Kazakhstan and Olympic hosts South Korea.

Former world champion Carolina Kostner of Italy finished sixth ahead of American Ashley Wagner, a silver medallist in 2016.

- Canadians electrify -

Canada had a successful day on the ice with Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir earlier hitting a new high with a Prince-inspired short dance putting them on the brink of a third ice dancing gold.

Competing in their first worlds since 2013, the returning dancers had the ecstatic crowd in Helsinki on their feet after skating to "Kiss", "5 Women" and "Purple Rain".

It earned the 2010 Olympic champions a first-place score of 82.43 -- bettering their own all-time best by 1.93 -- and left two-time holders Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France trailing second with 76.89.

Cizeron received two stitches after cutting his hand on his partner's blade and the three-time European champions have a mountain to climb to make up the 5.5-point gap in Saturday's free dance final.

"I felt really electrocuted, there was so much energy going through my body," said 29-year-old Moir of their crowd-pleasing routine.

Virtue and Moir -- world champions in 2010 and 2012 -- took two years off following their silver at the 2014 Sochi Games and have been unbeatable as they returne this season.

The Canadians and French train together in Montreal under coach Romain Haguenauer who was perplexed to see the holders trail by such a large margin.

"It's strange to see such a difference (in scores) between the best two ice dance pairs in the world," said Haguenauer.

"It's a pity because it kills the competition a bit."

Saturday's final day of competition also sees Spain's Javier Fernandez bid for a third straight men's gold.