by Klaus Reinhold Kany
(23 March 2019) The level of the ladies free program at the 2019 World Championships in Saitama was excellent, especially in the Top Tenm, because they all had more than 200 points. There were many faultless programs in a very good style.
Olympic Champion Alina Zagitova from Russia extended her lead after the short program and won easily with 237.50 points, 13 points ahead of the rest of the field. In her Carmen program, all seven triples were at least good, most of them excellent, like her three spins. She had mainly GOEs of +4, six elements had a few +5. Her components had an average of 9.3, with one 10.0 for performance from the Austrian judge.
She commented, “My first thought at the very end of the performance was ‘Yes, I did it.‘ I realized that I needed a clean skate and I went into each jump determined landing it. I was very nervous, but I think the experience from the Olympic Games helped me somehow. Now I will have a number of shows in Japan. I am the ambassador for a cosmetic brand and for sporting clothes brand, and it is a big honor for me to represent this kind of world-scale companies. I am trying to skate well and show high results, and then the companies offer me a partnership.“
Elizabet Tursynbaeva from Kazakhstan won the silver medal with 224.76 points after performing the fourth best free program. She will go into skating history as first senior lady to land a quad jump in competition, in her case the Salchow. It was not a bit shaky but landed backwards. Six triple jumps were very good, but she stepped out of the first double Axel. She improved much since she returned from Toronto to Moscow, but still does not skate as extroverted as many others. Her components were around 8.7. She explained, “Of course, I am very happy with my silver medal. It was unexpected for me because it is the first medal for Kazakhstan in the ladies event. I cannot believe that I landed the quad Salchow. It was pretty good on the practice today in the morning. I started working on this jump about three years ago.“
The 2016 and 2017 World Champion Evgenia Medvedeva from Russia, who trains with Brian Orser in Toronto, won the bronze medal with 223.80 points. This was her best competition in this season. All seven triple jumps were very good, only the second double Axel not clean. Her components were around 9.1. She explained, “I am very satisfied with my both performances It is an incredible feeling that I am here now. It has been a tough season for me and it was really hard to qualify for this Championships. But we made it. We worked twice as much as usual. It was the first time for me to run through my free program every day and sometimes multiple times a day. That’s why I have got a medal. You will see a strong and beautiful Medvedeva next season.“
The three very strong ladies from the host country did not win any medal because all were very nervous and under much pressure. But they won three spots for next year again. Rika Kihira was the best of them and finished on fourth position with 223.40 points with the second best free program. She began with an excellent combination of triple Axel and triple toe loop which brought her 15.06 points. But then she fell on the second triple Axel. Five other triple jumps were at least very good and her components around 8.9. She said, “I was anxious about this free program after missing the triple Axel in my short program and I was thinking that I just HAVE to do it. I am happy that I landed the first one and was able to rotate the second one.“
There were only two points between second and fifth place. Kaori Sakamoto is on fifth position winning 222.83 points. Her style is very elegant and therefore she gained the second highest components with an average of 9.1. Five triple jumps were excellent, but she singled the flip and the Salchow was soso. Satoko Mayahara sits sixth, earning 215.95 points. All her seven triple jumps were clean, but not very high, she only stumbled on a double loop at the end of a combination. Her spins are world-class.
Bradie Tennell, second at U.S.Nationals, is on seventh position with 213.47 position in her best free program ever and got a standing ovation. She did all her seven triple jumps, most of them in excellent quality. Her components go up from month to month since she works with French choreographer Benoit Richaud and reached an average of 8.5. She commented, “I have put definitely a lot of work in, focus on the details, perfecting every second of the program. The key for tonight was just to letting myself enjoy the moment, and really just breathing and taking it all in. This free skate, I am so happy with. It is what I have been striving for all season, and to do it here in Japan, in front of such an amazing crowd is everything I could have hoped for.“ European Champion Sofia Samodurova from Russia is eighth with 208.07 points.
Mariah Bell, third at U.S. Nationals, placed ninth with 208.07 points. The seventh and ninth place are not enough to gain a third spot for next year’s Worlds in Canada. Bell performed a good program, but here and there were some minor mistakes. The agent of her South Korean training mate Eunsoo Lim had accused Bell to have injured Lim intentionally on her leg during practice, but the ISU gave out an offical statement, "Based on the evidence at hand at this point in time, which includes a video, there is no evidence that Ms. Bell intended any harm to Ms. Lim. The ISU met with delegates from both USA and Korea and urged both parties to find an amicable solution.“ Bell said, “It was an unfortunate event, I meant no harm. I just continued to focus on myself and I did the same thing in my program today.“
Eunsoo Lim finished in tenth place, winning 205.57 points.