Pyeongchang 2018

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Tears, cheers and falls galore at figure skating World Championships

When it came to drama, excitement and sporting excellence, the World Figure Skating Championships in Milan certainly delivered.

Double Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu was missing, but plenty of big names were present.

There were tears for PyeongChang gold medallist Alina Zagitova as she finished outside the top three.

And delight for Nathan Chen who was dominant in Italy after his disappointment in Korea.

Zagitova setback

Despite not being at her best in the short program, Zagitova was well in contention in second place.

But three falls in the 15-year-old’s free skate left the Olympic champion in tears and down in fifth, her worst finish in senior competition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And growing pains could be part of the reason for Zagitova’s disappointment.

Legendary veteran Russian coach Tatiana Tarasova told Sports.Ru, “Since the Olympic Games, she has grown by three centimetres.

“She doesn’t get it, but it’s not about puberty – she just needs to eat less.

“When you grow, your muscles need time to catch up with your height and therefore the coordination becomes reduced.

“She was so good in practice and that meant she was ready. But she is not used to falling or feeling uncomfortable.

“She just has to overcome this failure. Even great champions go through such falls.”

Taking advantage of the youngster’s struggles was PyeongChang bronze medallist Kaetlyn Osmond.

The 22-year-old was only fourth after the short program, but a clean free skate proved enough for gold as her rivals faltered.

“I was fighting to skate clean and fighting to hit the podium. Being world champ is something I definitely never expected.”

Even Osmond fell victim to the falling curse, but at least she waited until the medal ceremony.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As well as securing Canada’s first women’s world crown since 1973, the win completed a remarkable recovery for Osmond.

In September 2014, she came close to retirement after breaking her leg in two places in a freak training accident.

Now she is an Olympic team gold medallist, individual bronze medallist, and world champion.

Chen comeback

Nathan Chen had already showed his mental resolve at PyeongChang.

After a disappointing short program left him down in 17th place, and some encouragement from Simone Biles, Chen landed five out of six quad jumps to end up fifth overall.

In Milan, the American was in the lead after the short program.

And, one by one, his rivals for gold took a succession of falls in the free skate.

Olympic silver medallist Shoma Uno hit the deck three times but, even so, he led with just Chen to go.

The 18-year-old could have played it safe and won.

Instead, he went for six quad jumps and landed them all for a new personal best free skate and victory by almost 50 points.

Chen Wins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hanyu and PyeongChang bronze medallist, twice world champion Javi Hernandez, may have been absent.

But this was a huge achievement for Chen who said, “I just wanted to redeem myself in the short, and try to maintain what I did in the long.”

He certainly did that.

Perfect pairs

Aljona Savchenko joined Norwegian great Sonja Henie on 11 World Championship medals after teaming up with Bruno Massot for their first world crown.

The German pair – Ukrainian-born Savchenko and French-born Massot – won gold at PyeongChang with 34-year-old Savchenko claiming her first Olympic title at the fifth attempt.

She had already won five world titles with former partner Robin Szolkowy.

And after bronze in 2016 and silver in 2017, Savchenko and Massot clinched gold in Milan.

They did it in style too.

A new world record in the free skate, breaking their mark from PyeongChang, and a new world record total.

Massot could not quite believe it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But their reign may be short-lived with Savchenko, already the most decorated pairs skater in history, in the twilight of her career.

Back on top

With their great rivals Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir retiring after PyeongChang, the path was clear for Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron to regain the world title.

An off-putting ‘wardrobe malfunction’ in the short program almost certainly cost them gold in Korea.

But there was no repeat in Italy as the French duo dominated from start to finish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Papadakis and Cizeron broke Virtue and Moir’s world record for the short program to take the lead.

And they eclipsed their own record from PyeongChang in the free skate for a new world best total and their third world crown.

With a combined age of 45, Papadakis and Cizeron could rule the ice dance world for many years to come.

 

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