Russia’s Olympic Champion Alina Zagitova skated to a confident victory at the Grand Prix Helsinki on Saturday. Teammate Stanislava Konstantinova moved up from fourth to earn the silver in her Grand Prix debut while Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto rose from seventh to take the bronze.
Performing to “Carmen”, Zagitova nailed a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination, triple Salchow, triple flip-double toe and another triple flip. The only glitch came when she underrotated her triple Lutz-triple loop combination.
The European Champion collected a level four for her spins and footwork and scored 146.39 points to rack up 215.29 points overall. However, the 16-year-old was critical of her own performance.
“I am not pleased about my short program. The free skating was better, but still not ideal,” Zagitova said.
“I did not quite have the focus I usually have and I took a long time to put the short program behind me. I analyzed it for a long time, almost all night long. When I got up, I told myself that I have to skate well in the free to please the spectators.”
Konstantinova delivered a flawless performance to “Anna Karenina” that featured seven triple jumps including a triple Lutz-triple toeloop and a double Axel-Euler-triple Salchow combination.
With 135.01 points, the skater from St Petersburg ranked third in the Free Skating and moved up two spots to second on 197.57 points.
“I am very happy to have won the silver medal in my first ever Grand Prix. I was absolutely unhappy with my short program where I made a costly mistake, but I am glad I was able to pull myself together and skate well today,” Konstantinova said.
Sakamoto, who had fallen on two jumps in the Short Program on Friday, rallied in her Free Skating to “The Piano” by Michael Nyman, hitting seven triple jumps.
She scored 140.16 points and totaled 197.42 points, edged out of silver by just 0.15 points.
“In the free skating I gave it all I had, because this was my only chance to make the podium. I forgot about yesterday’s short program,” the 18-year-old said.
With silver and bronze from her two events, Sakamoto has a chance to qualify for the Grand Prix Final.
“Now it depends on the other girls whether I go to the Final or not. I will practice very hard,” she added.
Yuna Shiraiwa (JPN) dropped from second to fourth after underrotating three jumps (191.46 points). Loena Hendrickx (BEL) slipped from third to fifth (191.22 points). Daria Panenkova (RUS) rounded up the top six (161.48 points).
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Photo: Rémy Gros