Golden Skate

Zagitova sets record in Ladies Figure Skating in Pyeongchang

Alina Zagitova

Alina Zagitova (OAR) grabs the lead in the Ladies Short Program with a record-breaking score at the 2018 Olympics.

2018 Winter Olympics: Figure Skating News

Alina Zagitova (OAR) took the lead in the Ladies Figure Skating event at the 2018 Olympics on Wednesday after a record-breaking Short Program. Teammate Evgenia Medvedeva is in a close second, followed by Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond.

Skating to music from the Black Swan soundtrack, Zagitova attacked her Short Program, landing a triple Lutz-triple loop, triple flip, and double Axel. The young skater also earned a level 4 on all elements along with positive grades of execution (GOE) throughout.

The 15-year-old, who has been undefeated all season, earned 82.92 points, re-setting Medvedeva’s score (81.61) who had skated before her in the final flight.

“I was very happy when I saw the score, but I did not expect it,” said the skater who trains with Medvedeva under Eteri Tutberidze and Sergei Dudakov. “Now my name will be connected to that record.”

“From the score, this is the best performance of my life, but there is still room to grow,” she added. “I could have more speed going into the jumps, the landings of the jumps could have been smoother, there could have been more emotions. The important thing is to show progress with each competition. You need to get better and better.”

The skater didn’t even think she would be competing at the Olympics at this early stage in her career.

“If someone had told me that two or three years ago or even one year ago, I would have been very surprised,” she said.

Medvedeva delivered a mesmerizing routine which featured a triple flip-triple toe, triple loop, and double Axel, all of which were solid. She also showed good level 4 spins and footwork. The major difference between the top two skaters in terms of the technical score, was the difficulty of their combination jumps.

I was nervous, but not as much as in the team event,” said the two-time World champion of her performance. “I already knew what the Olympics are like. I felt more confident than in the team event. Today, for the first time, I went out with the thought not to give way to my emotions. In the team event, I was nervous and my legs were shaky. I was full of emotions, but they were happy emotions—to be at the Olympic Games, I felt like celebrating. Wow, I’m at the Olympics!”

The 18-year-old from Moscow said she wasn’t “chasing after numbers” when asked about her own record-breaking score, citing that she could have scored higher if the jump combination would have been better.

“The analysis starts already during the performance,” Medvedeva noted. “When I did the combination, I thought it could have been better.”

Osmond gave a dynamic routine filled with powerful jumps including a triple flip-triple toe, triple Lutz, and double Axel.

“I am very happy,” said the three-time Canadian champion. That program is exactly how I have been training it, and to be able to have that much fun in my short program means everything to me.”

The 2017 World silver medalist also showed solid level 4 spins and footwork to earn a new personal best of 78.87.

The 22-year-old has been fighting to keep improving this program at each event and while upset with the team event short program, was happy regarding her personal best.

“I just really wanted to enjoy my program,” said Osmond. “I got to skate it in the team event and as much fun as I had, it still wasn’t the enjoyment that I wanted. Today that was my goal. To have fun, enjoy it and to stay focused.

The skater, who is coached by Ravi Walia, barely remembers her last Olympic experience, calling it a “whirlwind.”

“Here, I feel so much more mature, so much more in control, and to be able to put a program like that is always much better than it was four years ago,” she said. “My goal for the long is to do the same thing I have been doing in training.”

Japan’s Satoko Miyahara scored a new personal best of 75.94 for fourth place after her compelling routine to Memoirs of a Geisha which featured a triple Lutz-triple toe, triple loop, and double Axel.

“I thought I would be more nervous,” said the the 2015 World silver medalist. “It was not so bad for me. It was very special and on this dynamic stage. I am happy to skate here. I am looking forward to the long program.”

“I wanted to be more expressive and more open,” added the 2015 World silver medalist. “And I hope I can do that in the free program.”

Teammate Kaori Sakamoto gave a confident performance, back-loaded with a triple flip-triple toe, triple loop, and double Axel. The 2018 Four Continents Champion scored a new personal best of 73.18 for a close fifth.

Italy’s Carolina Kostner came in sixth (73.15) The 2014 Olympic bronze medalist doubled the back half of a triple flip-triple toe and put a hand down on a triple loop, but otherwise gave a sophisticated routine to earn the second highest program component score of the day.

“It was not my best performance,” admitted the 31-year-old, who said she felt comfortable, happy, and joyful. “I was a bit shaky on the second landing of my second jump. The rest, the feeling was very good. I am honored to be part of the top skaters. I hope my next performance can be better. The competition is not over and everything that comes is fine.

“It’s always big emotions at any of the Olympics,” said the veteran skater of her fourth outing. “It’s something probably you will tell your grandchildren one day. I hope with the experience I have, I can be a help and an inspiration and a motivation to the younger skaters. And being here among them is such a big privilege.”

Canada’s Gabrielle Daleman made a rare mistake when she stepped out of the back half of a triple toe-triple toe. However, the rest of the performance was clean and featured a triple Lutz and level 4 spins and footwork. She currently sits in seventh (68.90).

“To be honest I am not the happiest,” said the 2017 World bronze medalist. “I missed a simple jump that is very easy for me, but at the end of the day, I could have let it all fall apart, but I didn’t. I fought for everything. I performed the program at probably one of the best times I could have. I am happy how I handled everything.”

“I’m human and we all make mistakes. Today was just one of them,” she added. “The long program is my strength and I’m a fighter and I’m a competitor.”

Dabin Choi of South Korea gave a flowing routine which featured a triple Lutz-triple toe, triple flip, and double Axel. All elements earned a level 4, and the 18-year-old earned a new personal best of 67.77 for eighth place.

“I was really nervous because I wanted to do a clean short program like I can do in practice,” said the skater from Seoul. “I did feel some pressure and I was nervous, because I skated last in the group. I had good practices and that made it possible to score a personal best, I think.”

The young skater enjoyed the team event and didn’t feel nervous, however, the individual event was another story. She was eager to be perfect.

“For all athletes it is meaningful to perform in the Olympic Games, especially in your home country,” she said. “I was nervous, but these are unforgettable moments.”

USA’s Mirai Nagasu left points on the table after missing her triple Axel—the wildcard element—in what was the highest planned technical routine in the event. The three-time Four Continents medalist is currently ninth (66.93).

“I think I over-shot it,” said the 24-year-old of the triple Axel. “I kind of landed it, then I kind of fell and ended taking the fall. But it was a fight. I still did my triple-triple (combination) and still managed to do my loop as well.”

“You win some and you lose some,” she pointed out, “and today isn’t my day, but I delivered when it counted for the team event and I am still going to live on that.”

The U.S. silver medalist says she is not “mad,” but when it came to the triple Axel, the timing just wasn’t right.

“It didn’t happen for me today, but it has been happening in practice,” said Nagasu. “It happened in the team event and I know I can do it. I will learn from today and head into the free skate.”

“It’s been really, really hard,” she added. “It’s been a long time being away from home and being away from my dogs, but this is what I wanted and this is what I signed up for. It’s a lot of pressure and it’s hard to be in this situation, but I love it, that’s why I am still here.”

Teammates Karen Chen and Bradie Tennell are in 10th and 11th place, respectively.

“I’m [pretty proud] of myself that I was able to keep it together and didn’t let that silly mistake bother me mentally or physically,” Chen said of the hand down and step out of her triple Lutz. “I just made sure I held my spin, stayed focused on my footwork, and made sure I added that double toe after the triple loop.”

Tennell took a fall on her opening triple Lutz-triple toe. “You just have to get up and keep on going as if nothing happened,” she said. “You know my left arm just got away from me and I just kind of sat down.”

“It’s always a challenge to be the first one out there,” she said of being the first one to skate of 30 entries, “but you know, I just think about it like any other program and get out there and do our job.”

“It wasn’t my best, but I am glad that I was the first one out there,” she summed up. “It was a special sort of challenge for me and I’m excited for (the free skate on) Friday.”