Russian 15-year-old wins Grand Prix Final; U.S. gets ice dance bronze
Russian women went one-two in the Grand Prix Final, even without their superstar.
Alina Zagitova, the 15-year-old training partner of injured world champion Yevgenia Medvedeva, won the biggest pre-Olympic competition this season in Nagoya, Japan, on Saturday.
Zagitova, the world junior champion undefeated in her first senior season, scored a personal-best 223.20 points to win the prestigious six-skater event.
Zagitova landed seven triple jumps with only minor errors, ranking only behind Medvedeva in top scores this season. Medvedeva withdrew before the Grand Prix Final, which she won the last two years, with a broken foot.
Zagitova prevailed by 6.92 points over countrywoman Maria Sotskova, all but assuring they will join Medvedeva on Russia’s three-woman Olympic team named later this winter. Assuming an IOC panel selects them.
Canadian Kaetlyn Osmond was third. No U.S. women qualified for the Grand Prix Final for a second straight year.
In ice dance, France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron broke the world record total score for a third straight time in beating Canadian training partners Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir for the first time.
Papadakis and Cizeron, the 2015 and 2016 World champs, tallied 202.16 points and have broken 200 points three times. No other couple has done it once.
Virtue and Moir, who won gold and silver at the last two Olympics and were undefeated in their comeback season a year ago, matched their personal best with 199.86.
U.S. couples went third, fourth and fifth, led by national champions Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani, who took their second straight Grand Prix Final bronze medal.
They did so with their lowest score of the season, a distant 14.16 points behind the French.
“It was not the performance we wanted to have today, unfortunately,” Alex Shibutani said, according to U.S. Figure Skating. “We felt pretty good this week overall, and there was a lot of stuff that we made progress on, but I just had issues with the twizzles this week. That’s very uncharacteristic of me.”
The Shibutani siblings and fourth- and fifth-place finishers Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue and Madison Chock and Evan Bates are massive favorites to make up the three-couple U.S. Olympic team named after nationals in January.
German pair Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot pulled off the only surprise of the Grand Prix Final, toppling the world champions from China with the highest free skate score under a 13-year-old points system.
Savchenko, born in Ukraine, and Massot, born in France, didn’t officially become eligible to represent Germany at the Olympics until Massot finalized his citizenship last month.
They totaled the third-highest score ever, 236.68 points. Only the 2014 Olympic champions -- Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov of Russia -- have been better.
China’s Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, who were undefeated since returning from Sui’s ankle and foot surgeries in February, took silver, 5.79 points behind the Germans.
Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, the 2015 and 2016 World champions, took bronze. No Americans were in the field.
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Grand Prix Final Results
Gold: Alina Zagitova (RUS) -- 223.20
Silver: Maria Sotskova (RUS) -- 216.28
Bronze: Kaetlyn Osmond (CAN) -- 215.16
4. Carolina Kostner (ITA) -- 214.65
5. Satoko Miyahara (JPN) -- 213.49
6. Wakaba Higuchi (JPN) -- 202.11
Gold: Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) — 202.16 WR
Silver: Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir (CAN) — 199.86
Bronze: Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 188
4. Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue (USA) — 187.4
5. Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA) — 187.15
6. Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (ITA) — 185.23
Gold: Aljona Savchenko/Bruno Massot (GER) — 236.68
Silver: Sui Wenjing/Han Cong (CHN) — 230.89
Bronze: Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN) — 210.83
4. Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov (RUS) — 209.26
5. Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 208.73
6. Yu Xiaoyu/Zhang Hao (CHN) — 207.14
Men (from Friday)
Gold: Nathan Chen (USA) -- 286.51
Silver: Shoma Uno (JPN) -- 286.01
Bronze: Mikhail Kolyada (RUS) -- 282.00
4. Sergei Voronov (RUS) -- 266.59
5. Adam Rippon (USA) -- 254.33
6. Jason Brown (USA) -- 253.81