Tuesday, June 18, 2019 | ePaper
Olympic champ Zagitova storms to maiden world skate title
Olympic champion Alina Zagitova produced a dynamic free programme to capture her first figure skating world title Friday despite a jaw-dropping quadruple jump from Kazakhstan's silver medallist Elizabet Tursynbaeva.
Russian Zagitova, who led after the midweek short skate, made devilishly tricky jump combinations look ridiculously easy as the 16-year-old scored 155.42 points for a winning total of 237.50 in Saitama.
Tursynbaeva drew gasps from the crowd when she nailed a quadruple salchow -- the first woman to land a quad in a senior international competition -- on her way to becoming her country's first female world medallist with an overall score of 224.76 for silver. Russia's Evgenia Medvedeva, twice a world champion and runner-up to countrywoman Zagitova at last year's Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, took bronze with a total 223.80 points.
The trio's late fireworks kept Japan's medal hopefuls Rika Kihira, Kaori Sakamoto and Satoko Miyahara off the podium, to the disappointment of local fans.
Skating to music from the opera "Carmen", Zagitova dazzled in a lace black and flame-red dress, flying straight into a triple lutz, triple toe-loop combo and finishing with a flurry of jumps before covering her face with her hands.
"It's been a tough year but it is such a thrill to win gold," said Zagitova, who suffered an Olympic hangover as she slumped to fifth at last year's world championships in Milan and fifth at the Russian nationals.
"This is for all the people who have helped me through the hard times this past year. I'm just so happy, there are no words."