SEOUL, South Korea — American Olympian Polina Edmunds hopes her performance in rallying to win the Four Continents championship Sunday sends a message to the rest of the figure skating world. Especially the powerful Russians.
Edmunds, who came into the free skate in fourth place, hit the wrong edge on an early combination, a triple flip-single loop-triple salchow. But she landed most of her other big jumps, including a late combination.
Skating to "Tinker Bell" by James Newton Howard, the 16-year-old finished with 184.02 points.
The Four Continents provides a gauge for skaters headed to next month's world championships in Shanghai, but it doesn't include powerful European skaters. The absent Russians, who swept the medals at the European championships earlier this year, were on the minds of many.
"I don't think that the Russians are stronger than any one of us," said Edmunds, the second youngest woman to win the event. "It's going to come down to the elements. It's going to come down to how we perform. But going into worlds I'm optimistic that, hopefully, it's not going to be all, 'The Russians are coming!'"
Edmunds finished ninth at the Sochi Games in her first senior international competition. She believes her showing here could provide a springboard for worlds.
"Coming into this I wanted to skate well because I knew it was a great opportunity for me to gain momentum," Edmunds said. "I expected myself to skate well and I did. I'm happy I was awarded the gold medal for it."
Satoko Miyahara of Japan, first after the short program, had an uneven free skate, including a fall on a triple lutz. She took win silver, with 181.59 points. The 16-year-old skated to "Miss Saigon."
"I know the Russian girls are so strong," Miyahara said, "but I don't like to think about other people. I just want to focus on myself."
She blamed her shaky free skate on a lack of speed and power on her jumps.
Rika Hongo, 18, of Japan got the bronze medal with 177.44 points.
American Gracie Gold, the 2014 U.S. champion and fourth at the Sochi Olympics, finished fourth Sunday, unable to recover after missing her first two jumps.
"It was a difficult competition for me," she said. "I skated poorly in both segments of competition. I'm sorry about that."
U.S. champion Ashley Wagner decided to sit out the event.
The Russians certainly will be a focus at worlds. They include Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, who won gold at the European championships, and Elena Radionova and Anna Pogorilaya, who were second and third, respectively.
Russian Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova, who has had an ankle injury, hasn't skated in international competition since beating South Korea's Yuna Kim for gold at Sochi — a victory that caused heated debate over the judging.
Kim has retired, but reminders of still-fresh South Korean outrage at her loss were everywhere at the arena. "ISU out," said one sign, a reference to the International Skating Union that governs the sport.
Another said "Robbers Sochi," and one, also directed at the ISU, read: "I know what you did last winter in Sochi."
Other skating highlights at the championships at Seoul's Mokdong Ice Arena included Olympic bronze medalist Denis Ten's commanding win at the men's event Saturday. The Kazakh skater finished well ahead of Joshua Farris of the United States.
Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Canada won the ice dance, with Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada taking the pairs competition — their second Four Continents win.