Teen Zagitova glides to women's figure skating gold

Alina Zagitova (OAR) produced a sparkling display of skating in her free programme performance to win Olympic gold at the Gangneung Ice Arena on Friday 23 February.

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Backing up a world record in the earlier short program, the first of two events to decide the women’s singles figure skating gold medal at PyeongChang 2018, the 15-year-old outperformed Evgenia Medvedeva (OAR), 18, who collected the silver medal with a season-best performance.

Winning the bronze medal was Kaetlyn Osmond (CAN), who also recorded a season-best performance.

Zagitova skated to Don Quixote and, unusually, performed all her showpiece jumps in the second half of her routine when they may be scored more highly. A series of near-flawless jumps including two triple Lutz, a triple flip into a double toe, and a triple flip into a double loop, convinced the judges to score 156.65, just two points shy of setting a second world record for these Games.

“I won. Honestly, my hands are shaking, because I haven't understood yet that I am an Olympic champion,” Zagitova said.

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Thinking on her feet

Victory came despite her first triple Lutz missing a planned progression into a triple loop. However, the teenager showed composure in performing the required loop on the back of a later Lutz, avoiding penalty marks from the judges.  

“We discussed this with my coach, so in case the first combination doesn't work out, I will do the second Lutz with the loop. Honestly, I was in shock, because I was ready to (do) everything on the first try. But this can happen, each athlete has to deal with it and it is another experience that I went through." Zagitova becomes the second-youngest women’s skater to win Olympic gold -  America's Tara Lipinski was also 15 when she topped the podium at Nagano 1998, but was about a month younger than Zagitova.

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It felt like a movie

Medvedeva, who skated to the music of Anna Karenina, said she felt “like Anna Karenina in the movie”.

“I put everything out there that I had, I left everything on the ice. I have no regrets. This was my mindset going out - not to leave anything on the table. I didn't think about errors, not about a clean skate,” she said.

“Honestly, I skated like in a fog, for the first time. It is because I realise that I am enjoying the process, these four minutes are historical and they only belong to me and the whole world is watching only me for those four minutes.”

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Osmond, who finished 13th in the same event four years ago in Sochi, was delighted to be on the podium. “Not long after the last Olympics, I didn't even know that I would be competing at this one. It means so much and to know that I fought so hard in the last four years. My main goal was to place higher than 13th, which I did, and I improved that by 10 placements,” she said.

“I felt strong and in the best shape I have ever been in my entire life. To be able to put out two clean programmes on Olympic ice - it means so much to me.”