Home Figure Skating News Zagitova pockets gold at Grand Prix Final debut

Zagitova pockets gold at Grand Prix Final debut

by Paula Slater
Robin Ritoss

2017-18 Grand Prix Final of Figure Skating - Ladies Podium

From Left to Right: Maria Sotskova (RUS), Alina Zagitova (RUS), and Kaetlyn Osmond (CAN)

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Alina Zagitova of Russia captured the gold in her debut at the 2017-18 Grand Prix Final of Figure Skating on Saturday in Nagoya, Japan. Teammate Maria Sotskova rose from fourth to win the silver, while Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada earned the bronze.

Zagitova, who was second going into the free skate was nearly spot on in her routine to Don Quixote which featured level four spins and footwork. The skater from Moscow stepped out of a triple Lutz in the back half of her program, but otherwise landed six other triples to finish first (147.03) in the long and overall (223.30).

“I was in good shape for this competition and I was able to finish well, so I am very happy,” said the 15-year-old. “I feel relaxed now. I know there are some mistakes in today’s program, and it was not the best performance I could put out. I felt little bit more nervous compared to Skate America. I was more relaxed for the short program, but I was not so in my free program. I found there are areas for improvement and still found some weakness in my mind. I tried hard and finished without major mistakes, so I was relieved.”

“The next competition will be nationals,” said Zagitova. “It will be very important, so what I would like to do is to skate well so I have no regret and to have the audience enjoy my skating.”

Sotskova renewed all of her personal bests at this event, finishing second in the free skate (142.28) and overall (216.28). The 17-year-old also earned level fours for her footwork and two of her spins. Her routine to “Claire de Lune” also featured a total of seven triple jumps.

“I am very happy,” said the teen who trains in Moscow. “This is my second Grand Prix Final. Last year I was in fifth place, so this year going up to second place and being able to go on the podium was a great experience for me.

“Nationals will be an important competition,” said Sotskova regarding her next event. “I have always been trying to get better results every year, every competition. This time too I am satisfied for both my programs, but for nationals, I will try to make my effort so I can do better than this time.

Overnight leader Osmond had a good start in her long to “Black Swan,” landing a triple flip-triple toe, but underrotated and fell on a triple Salchow and received an edge call on her triple Lutz. The Canadian champion, who was second after the short, also doubled a loop, but otherwise shoed good spins and footwork to place fifth with 138.12 and third overall (215.16).

“Overall, I am really excited with how this competition went,” said the 22-year-old. “Having a good short and my long has been improving on each event. I feel really strong and confident, and to be able to make the podium the first time at the Final, it means a lot to me.”

“I don’t think my mistakes were either mental or physical that effected my skate today,” said Osmond. “This program is really hard, really hard on the stamina, but I’ve been training it really well. I tried to stay focused the entire program, telling myself the key words, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen, and my mistakes were not ones that I usually make. I did feel really strong, especially at the beginning of the program, and I still felt strong at the end. The few mistakes, they won’t happen again.”

“I’m excited to compete at nationals, more so just to get another competition done,” said the 2017 World silver medalist. “I’m excited to improve on what I’ve been doing so far this year, but having done well at each of my events has been giving me big confidence that I need to keep pushing for the rest of the year.”

Italy’s Carolina Kostner, who was sixth going into the free skate, finished third (141.83) in the long and fourth overall (214.65). The five-time European Champion doubled a triple toe on the back half of her triple flip, as well as a triple Salchow in a double Axel combination, but otherwise did not make any major mistakes in her routine to “L’apres-midi d’un faune.” Unsurprisingly, she earned the highest program component scores of the evening.

“I feel very good, but I was a little bit more nervous than usual,” said the 30-year-old. “I am not completely satisfied with my technical content, some minor mistakes, which my coach will not probably say so, but at the end just being here was magnificent. I think I can still improve. I love both my programs so much. I love to work, I love to skate, that’s what keeps me motivated. I have nationals next week, so this is my last task before Christmas, then I can go home to my family. I can really go home and be proud of myself and be content with the line of training. This is not the end. This is just a step along the way.”

Satoko Miyahara of Japan finished fourth (138.88) in the long and fifth overall (213.49) Last year’s silver medalist underrotated two of her jumps, but showed good spins and footwork in her routine to “Concierto de Aranjuez.”

“I know there are some mistakes in today’s program,” noted the 19-year-old. “It was not the best performance I could put out. I felt little bit more nervous compared to Skate America. I was more relaxed for the short program, but I was not so in my free program. I knew some of jumps not being clean, and the point reflected exactly what I felt. I take this as the reality, so I know what I need to work on.

Teammate Wakaba Higuchi rounded out the field of ladies, placing sixth with 202.11 points.

“I am disappointed after my skating today,” said the two-time World Junior bronze medalist. “During the six-minute warm up, I moved better and was able to jump, but when I went out on ice, I was too nervous, and my body wasn’t moving. These last few days of practice I wasn’t doing my best, so I felt pressure and was thinking too much during the performance. I forced myself to do my triple Lutz-triple toe combination and landed it, but I am still upset after my performance, because I missed the triple Salchow and the second triple Lutz. I felt that I didn’t have speed in the step sequence.”

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