BEIJING (Reuters) – Russia’s 15-year-old Alina Zagitova rose from fourth to win her grand prix debut event on Saturday, while compatriot Mikhail Kolyada took the men’s singles despite a mistake-marred routine.
Skating to “Don Quixote,” Zagitova, the 2017 world junior champion, had the crowd clapping along to the jump-laden second half of her routine, cleanly landing a triple lutz and triple salchow as well as a sequence of dazzling spins on her way to top an extremely tight field.
With the first three finishers after Friday’s short program separated by barely a point, Zagitova leapt to victory with 144.44 points for the free skate and a total of 213.88.
“To win the gold medal in my first grand prix means a lot to me but I need to continue to work and I cannot rest on my laurels,” Zagitova told reporters.
“I was not pleased with my short program but I was pleased with the free (skate) as I did everything.”
Japan’s Wakaba Higuchi held on to second place, snapping out a lightning series of jumps, including a double axel, double toeloop and double loop, in her routine to “Skyfall” by Adele.
“I think I moved very well on the ice today and I am satisfied with what I did,” said the 16-year-old, who picked up 141.99 points for a total of 212.52 overall.
“However… I have a little regret I am not at the top here, there is still a gap.”
Russia’s Elena Radionova was third with 136.34, and 206.82 points total, while Japan’s Mai Mihara surged from seventh to fourth overall with 206.07. Canada’s Gabrielle Daleman, who led after the short program, finished sixth.
Kolyada’s dazzling performance in Friday’s short program helped him to rack up enough of a lead to win the event on Saturday despite an error-ridden routine to an Elvis Presley medley.
The 22-year-old dropped to third in the free skate, with 176.25 points and a total of 279.38.
Falls took a toll on hometown favourite Jin Boyang, who touched the ice on most of his quad jumps and fell on another, although he managed to cling on to second with a total of 264.48 despite ranking only fifth in the free skate.
A disastrous performance by Javier Fernandez to “Man of La Mancha” dragged the Spaniard down to sixth overall from third on Friday. His place on the podium was taken by United States skater Max Aaron with 176.58 in the free skate for a total of 259.59.
In ice dance, France’s two-time world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron became the first ice dance duo to break 200 points when they took gold. Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the U.S. took second and the bronze went to Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev of Russia.
China’s Wenjing Sui and Cong Han took gold in the pairs, followed by compatriots Xiaoyu Yu and Hao Zhang. Canada’s Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro were third.
China’s grand prix is the third of six qualifying events for the International Skating Union’s Grand Prix Final in Japan in December, two months before the start of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
(Reporting by Elaine Lies from Tokyo; Editing by Clare Fallon)