Mon, Nov 06, 2017 - Page 11 News List

Russians triumph, French pair break 200-point wall

AFP, BEIJING

Chen Hong and Zhao Yan perform during the exhibition show at the Cup of China International Skating Union Grand Prix in Beijing yesterday.

Photo: EPA

Russia dominated the figure skating Cup of China on Saturday as 15-year-old Alina Zagitova won gold on her Grand Prix debut and Mikhail Kolyada triumphed in the men’s competition in Beijing.

Meanwhile, the French pair Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron became the first ice-dance team to break the 200-point barrier as they blazed their way to a record victory.

Zagitova’s victory is all the more significant with next year’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, looming large.

The World Junior Champion catapulted from fourth to first in the ladies free skate, the third of six events in the International Skating Union Grand Prix series.

Second overall was Japan’s Wakaba Higuchi (212.52 points) and another Russian, Elena Radionova, took bronze (206.82).

Performing to Don Quixote, Zagitova nailed a triple lutz-triple loop combination on her way to a score of 144.44 points and total 213.88.

“To win the gold medal in my first Grand Prix means a lot to me, but I need to continue to work and I cannot rest on my laurels,” she said. “I was not pleased with my short program [69.44 on Friday], but I was pleased with the free skate as I did everything.”

Kolyada made it a double Russian gold with his total of 279.38 points, with home Chinese hope Jin Boyang taking silver (264.48) and American Max Aaron — who came first in the free skate — taking bronze (259.69).

The 22-year-old Kolyada, who dazzled in his short program on Friday, held on to his overnight lead to seal a maiden Grand Prix victory.

There was a major surprise in the disappointing form of Spain’s two-time world champion Javier Fernandez, who finished well off the podium, down in a modest sixth after an error-strewn performance in the free skate.

Two-time world champions Papadakis and Cizeron were untouchable over the two days, racking up a personal-best score of 119.33 points on the night and a record 200.43 in total.

“It was a great performance for us and we are happy with how we performed and with our score,” Papadakis said after their faultless skate to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.

There was home glory in the pairs, as world champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong brought the house down to win a runaway gold with a total 231.07, with fellow Chinese Yu Xiaoyu and Zhang Hao taking silver (205.54) and Canadians Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro bronze (194.52).

The Grand Prix series consists of six events and climaxes at the final in Nagoya, Japan, next month.

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