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2019 World Championships, Ladies Short Program

by Klaus Reinhold Kany

(21 March 2019)  The Ladies Short Program at the 2019 World Championships had a very good level and there were few mistakes especially among the top skaters. Nobody has big problems with the five usual triple jumps, only one lady tried a triple Axel and quads are not allowed in lady’s short programs anyway. The enthusiastic crowd of almost 18,000 spectators in the sold-out Super Arena gave several standing ovations, not only to Japanese skaters.

Olympic champion Alina Zagitova from Russia won with surprisingly many points, in her case with 82.08 points, but the judging was correct. Skating to Phantom of the Opera“, in her best short program since the Olympic Games of 2018, all her seven seven elements were outstanding. Each of the seven elements had at least one GOE of +5, and the big majority of the judges awarded a +4. Her very difficult combination of triple Lutz and triple loop had 13.24 points and her components had an average of 9.3, with some 9.75 as highest ones.

She commented, “I am quite satisfied with my short program today. The Japanese audience is always very welcoming. So anytime I get to perform here, I am very happy. During this season, I had many mistakes in practice and that made me more nervous. I know that my coaches have helped me when it is not going well. They were able to prepare me mentally so I was able to show my best result this season. I actually tend to forget about my bad and good performances surprisingly quickly. I am usually very calm coming into competitions in Japan and that gives me strength. I definitely feel that there is a great love for figure skating here in Japan. For example, fans have been waiting for me to leave my hotel room and also they seem to get really excited when asking me for autographs, their hands are shaking. I always tell them to calm down and sign the autographs for them but in many ways, there is definitely a huge love for figure skating.“

Kaori Sakamoto from Japan won the small silver medal for the second best short program with 76.82 points. Her combination was triple Lutz and triple toe loop, and her highlight was the triple loop which had seven GOEs of +5. Her components were around 8.7. “I am happy about my short program today“, she said. “It was one of the better short programs I have been doing and also I was able to beat my previous best score.“

Elizabet Tursynbaeva from Kazakhstan is currently third with 75.96 points. Last summer she returned to the Moscow school of Eteri Tutberidze from Canada and has considerably improved since. Her seven elements were excellent and she explained, “Four Continents in February gave me confidence about myself but also gave me the motivation to work harder. Right now, my quad Salchow is getting better and more consistent than it was. I have been landing quads on every practice I had here. I just have to think less!“

The 2016 and 2017 World Champion Evgenia Medvedeva from Russia is currently fourth with 74.23 points. In her combination, the triple toe loop after the triple flip was under-rotated, the other elements excellent. She had the second highest components of around 9.2. She said, “I am not satisfied with my combination jump. I should have jumped it brilliantly like I did during the training session. But I started to practise jumps with my arm up just 2 weeks ago. As for other elements, I am pretty satisfied with them. Especially, the double Axel. We just checked it with Brian (Orser) and Tracy (Wilson) and it was really good. As for the scores, they are just okay. As for the support from the tribunes, I felt at home. I heard a lot of voices, even the Russian ones. Usually I don’t really like it when people scream out to me when I’m taking the starting pose, but this time it was funny.“ Eunsoo Kim from South Korea sits fifth with 72.91 points. In her flawless program, the student of Rafael Arutunian had mainly +3 for her excellent elements.

Mariah Bell, another students of Arutunian and third at U.S. Nationals, is on sixth place, winning 71.26 points. Six of her elements were excellent, but the combination a bit shaky. She got a standing ovation because the audience loved with how much pleasure and enthusiasm she skated. She explained, “Obviously this is the most important competition of the season so you have some extra nerves, but I am so proud of how I was able to work through those nerves and still put out a strong skate. It is incredible to skate in front of so many Japanese fans, I am so lucky to come here as often as I do. There is nothing like Japanese crowd. I think I have done really solid programs with little mistakes.“

Rika Kihira from Japan, winner of the Grand Prix Final, is only seventh with 70.90 points because she singled the Axel which was planned triple. This cost her about ten points. The other elements were excellent. She said, “I didn’t have enough speed going into the Axel. Also, I was prepared mentally and was emotionally ready but I lost the feeling or image of the jump in the program.“

Satoko Miyahara, also from Japan, sits eighth, earning 70.60 points. Her triple toe loop after the triple Lutz was under-rotated and all jumps a bit small for a better position, but her spins and steps excellent. European Champion Sofia Samodurova from Russia is on ninth place with 70.42 points after performing seven good or very good elements, but nothing outstanding.

Bradie Tennell from the Chicago area, National silver medalist, is placed tenth with 69.50 points. Five of her elements were very good, but the toe loop after the triple Lutz under-rotated and the triple flip a bit shaky. She explained, “I just hit on a bubble on my first jump, I think everything else went pretty well. I am here to put it all out there everything I have got, and as long as I do that I will be happy at the free.“