Zagitova wins at worlds, Tursynbaeva lands 1st quad jump

Zagitova wins at worlds, Tursynbaeva lands 1st quad jump
Russia's Alina Zagitova performs in the ladies free skating during the ISU World Figure Skating Championships at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, north of Tokyo, Friday, March 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

SAITAMA, Japan (AP) — Olympic champion Alina Zagitova won the free skate to capture her first title at the figure skating world championships on Friday.

Skating to “Carmen,” the 16-year-old Russian built on her lead from the short program with a strong free skate that included a triple-lutz, triple-toeloop combination in the first half of her program. She added five more triple jumps to finish with 237.50 points.

“I realized that I needed a clean skate and I went into each jump determined to land it,” said Zagitova, who also landed two double axels. “I was very nervous, but the experience from the Olympic Games helped me somehow.”

Elizabet Tursynbaeva became the first woman to land a quadruple jump at the worlds when she opened her Tango routine with a quad salchow. The 19-year-old Kazakh finished second with 224.76 points.

“I can’t believe I landed it,” Tursynbaeva said. “It was good in practice this morning. I couldn’t do it at the last two competitions so I was really glad to be able to do it here.”

Two-time world champion and Olympic silver medalist Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia was third with 223.80 points. Her routine featured a triple salchow-triple loop combination, a double axel-triple toeloop as well as four more triple jumps.

Medvedeva, fourth after the short program, has struggled in her first season since moving to Canada to train, finishing third and fourth at two Grand Prix events and seventh at the Russian championships in December.

“I’ve had a tough season and it was hard to qualify to get here,” Medvedeva said. “But I made it and was able to get a medal and I’m proud of the whole team.”

Japan’s Rika Kihira moved up from seventh place to finish fourth. Kihira opened with a triple axel-triple toe loop combination in her program to the “Beautiful Storm.” But she missed her landing on her second triple axel.

In ice dance, defending champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France were first in the rhythm dance with 88.42 points. Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov were second with 83.94 points, followed by Russian teammates Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin in third with 83.10.

The men’s free skate and the ice dance free dance are scheduled for Saturday, the final day of competition.

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