Awesome Alina: Russian Olympic gold medalist Zagitova takes control at world figure skating champs
The 16-year-old immaculately landed her signature triple lutz triple loop combination before nailing two other jumping elements to receive the highest score of 82.08 points – which put her ahead of the pack on Wednesday.
Skating to the “Phantom of the Opera” theme, the reigning Olympic champion captivated the Japanese crowd, which gave her thunderous applause on the completion of her routine.
Not everything was as I expected, lot of things can still change with the free program but for now I'm very happy for her. She deserves it. 👏👏👏👏💖#WorldFigure#Worlds2019#フィギュアスケート#alinazagitovapic.twitter.com/Lha2YgUxzl— デイジー (^-^)v🌼 羽生 結弦🌸 (@Yuzurunumber1) March 20, 2019
Zagitova beat pre-tournament home favorite Rika Kihira, who sensationally finished a disappointing seventh after singling out her trademark triple axel, a mistake which didn’t go unnoticed by the judges. Kihira received 70.90 points for her routine, trailing Zagitova by more than 11 points.
Another rising Japanese star, Kaori Sakamoto, sits in second place with a season’s best result of 76.86 points.
Kazakh sensation Elizabet Tursynbayeva, who charmed the audience with her mesmerizing and technically complicated routine, sits third after the short program with 75.96 points.
Russian two-time world champion Evgenia Medvedeva put a difficult season behind her with a dazzling display to the tune of Puccini's tragic opera “Tosca”. The Olympic silver medalist posted a score of 74.23 points, putting her fourth but with a shot at the podium places in Japan.
Russia’s third competitor, Sofia Samodurova, who won the 2019 European championships, is currently ninth, less than a point behind Kihira.
The medalists in ladies program will be decided on Friday after competitors complete their free programs.