Osmond snatches world gold as Olympic champion Zagitova crashes

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March 23, 2018 11:14 pm Published by

MILAN (AFP) – 

Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond snatched gold as Olympic champion Alina Zagitova crashed to fifth in a drama-filled women’s free skate final at the world figure skating championships on Friday.

Osmond — the Olympic bronze medallist — pulled out a flawless free skate to ‘Black Swan’ to surge from fourth after the short programme to her first world title with a total score of 223.23 points.

“I still can’t quite believe it,” said the 22-year-old from Edmonton who becomes the first Canadian woman since Karen Magnussen in 1973 to stand on the top of the world podium.

“Being the world champion is not something I ever expected.”

Japanese skaters Wakaba Higuchi (210.90) and Satoko Miyahara (210.08) took silver and bronze respectively.

Zagitova fell three times during her four minutes free dance set to Austrian composer Ludwig Minkus’s score to the ballet Don Quixote.

It spoiled the 15-year-old’s bid for a golden finale to her senior debut season in which she had won the ISU Grand Prix Final, the European and Olympic titles.

She collapsed in tears as she left the ice and fell into the arms of her coach Eteri Tutberidze who comforted her.

Italy’s Carolina Kostner, who had been leading after the short programme, fell to fourth after also crashing in her skate to Debussy’s ‘L’apres-midi d’un faune’.

The home hope had been bidding to bring the curtain down on her 14-year world career with a second title after 2012.

“This fourth has a bitter taste,” said 31-year-old Kostner.

Higuchi, 17, moved up from eighth after the short programme with Miyahara, 19, holding her third position.

“At most other competitions I have cried at the end but this time there was no need to cry,” said Higuchi who placed 11th at worlds last year.

Two-time holder Evgenia Medvedeva did not defend her title after her silver behind Zagitova at the Olympics in South Korea with an injury.

– ‘Ouf, my dress is still on’ –

Earlier French ice dancers Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron suffered no costume slip this time as they put themselves on course for a third world title.

With a new world record of 83.73 points in the short dance, the 2015 and 2016 world champions led Americans Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue (80.42) and Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje (78.31).

The French lost their world title last year to Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and finished second again behind the Canadians in the Pyeongchang Olympic Games after a “nightmare” wardrobe malfunction when Papadakis’s costume became unclipped during the short programme, exposing a breast.

“I went back to Montreal. I fixed a couple of things on my dress to make sure it wouldn’t be able to come apart or open in any way … and it didn’t!” said Papadakis.

“It’s true that after the movement which unclipped my dress at the Olympics, I said to myself: ‘Ouf, it’s good, my dress is still on!’. I had a little half-second thought about it.”

Dancing to a Samba-Rhumba-Samba routine to Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape Of You’ and ‘Thinking Out Loud’ they bettered the previous best short dance score of 83.67 achieved by Virtue and Moir at the Olympics. The Canadians are not defending their world title this week.

The Canadian-based French dancers will look to seal gold in Saturday’s free dance final to Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”.

US champions Hubbell and Donohue, targeting their first world podium after finishing fourth at the Olympics, also posted a career best score, as did Weaver and Poje — former world medallists.

Italians Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte — the 2014 world champions — are less than point further back in fourth place.

On Saturday, US teenager Nathan Chen has promised “to try five quads” as he bids to claim his first world title.

Chen, 18, has a 1.86-point lead on Russia’s Mikhail Kolyada with 17-year-old US teammate Vincent Zhou, third five points adrift of his countryman.

China’s Jin Boyang — targetting a third straight podium finish — is fourth ahead of Olympic silver medallist Shoma Uno of Japan who has been hampered by an ankle injury.

Olympic gold medallist Yuzuru Hanyu — the reigning champion — has skipped worlds with an ankle injury.

by Emmeline MOORE

© 2018 AFP

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