Zagitova wins in France, qualifies for Grand Prix final

November 18, 2017

Alina Zagitova of Russia competes her ladies free program during the ISU French Grand Prix figure skating event at Pole Sud Indoor skating rink in Grenoble, southeastern France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

GRENOBLE, France (AP) — World junior champion Alina Zagitova recovered from a disappointing performance in the short program with a series of flawless jumps in the free to win the Internationaux de France on Saturday and qualify for the Grand Prix final.

The 15-year-old Russian, who won the Cup of China earlier this month, stood fifth after the short program following a stumble on her combination and a fall on her triple Lutz. Performing to “Don Quixote,” she delivered a superb free program to turn things around, landing all her jumps including a triple Lutz-triple loop combination and a double axel-triple toe.

Zagitova posted a season’s best free skate score of 151.34, winning with an overall total of 213.80 points.

“I was not very pleased with my short program, because not everything worked out, but I am pleased with the free skating, because I did everything to the maximum,” Zagitova said. “Today was a new day, I started from scratch and tried to go out with a cool head.”

Maria Sotskova of Russia claimed silver with 208.78 points and Canadian skater Kaetlyn Osmond, the world silver medalist, dropped to third place after leading the short program. Sotskova’s performance to “Clair de lune” by Claude Debussy included a triple Lutz-triple toe combination, five more triple jumps as well as two double Axels.

“I was able to cope with my nerves,” Sotskova said.

Osmond, who also qualified for the Grand Prix final, fell on a triple loop and finished with 206.77 points. “It wasn’t great. I made a few mistakes,” she said, adding that she will work on making her long program “cleaner.”

This was the fifth of six Grand Prix series culminating in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Nagoya, Japan, next month — the last competition featuring the world’s top skaters before the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The last Grand Prix event is Skate America at Lake Placid next week.

Two-time world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron later won the ice dance by breaking their own world record. After setting a personal best in the short program, the French skaters once again dominated the rest of the field in the free and finished with 201.98 points. They were 20.13 points ahead of two-time World medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the United States.

Russia’s Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin were third, with 177.24 points.

Two weeks ago, Papadakis and Cizeron became the first ice dance team to break the 200 points with 200.43 to win the Cup of China.

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