Alina Zagitova wins season opener, scales world rankings

Alina Zagitova
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Olympic figure skating champion Alina Zagitova was flawless in her first competition this season, winning Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany and moving comfortably atop the world rankings.

The 16-year-old Russian landed seven clean triple jumps in Friday’s free skate, tallying 158.50 points and 238.43 total points. Video is here.

She won by 29.21 points over Japanese Mai Mihara. The top American was Mariah Bell in fourth. Full results are here.

In the last two days, Zagitova recorded the young season’s best short program (by 5.19 points), free skate (by 11.13) and total score (by 16.99).

It bolstered the argument that Zagitova’s last performance of the 2017-18 season, a shocking fifth-place finish at the world championships, was an outlier. She fell three times in her free skate at worlds in March, her most recent international competition going into Nebelhorn.

Zagitova, whose season debut was delayed one week by travel document issues, took an early edge over former training partner and Olympic silver medalist Yevgenia Medvedeva. They’re not expected to go head-to-head until the Grand Prix Final in December, should both qualify for the six-skater event.

Medvedeva, who in the offseason moved from Russia to train under two-time Olympic silver medalist Brian Orser in Toronto, was beaten by U.S. champion Bradie Tennell in her debut at a lower-level event in Canada last week.

The figure skating season continues Oct. 6 with the Japan Open, a free skate-only event headlined by Zagitova and American Nathan Chen in his first competition program since winning the world title by the largest margin in history in March.

The top-level Grand Prix series begins in three weeks with Skate America, also with Chen.

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