Figure Skating World Championships 2019: As it happened - Friday

Olympic Channel were on site at #WorldFigure in Saitama as Alina Zagitova won the ladies' singles.

All times are Japan Standard Time (GMT+9).

Please CLICK HERE for Saturday's blog from the ice dance and men's free.

11:15 pm – Thanks for joining us

Well, that was crazy, wasn't it? Thanks for joining us today.

Do come back tomorrow for the final competition day in Saitama, when we find out who wins the ice dance, and also the men's event.

Can Yuzuru Hanyu bounce back from third? Or will Nathan Chen retain his title?

Here are the thoughts of Meryl Davis and figure skating expert Jackie Wong. What are yours?

See you tomorrow.

Can Yuzuru Hanyu bounce back? Our experts have their say

Can Yuzuru Hanyu bounce back? Our experts have their say

10:52 pm – No time off for Medvedeva

Medvedeva has switched to Russian. She's asked what her forthcoming plans are.

"I'm not really planning on any time off, I still have a lot of things lined up," she says. "I have shows here in Japan, and also in Canada and Korea. In between I'll be trying to rest my body.

"But actually, doing shows is different from competitions, so I think even while working on these shows, I will still be able to give myself an emotional vacation, a break for my mind."

10:48 pm – Tursynbaeva wants to keep working on quad

Tursynbaeva has been speaking more about landing the quad Salchow.

"The first quad I tried I landed it, but it was under-rotated. I was just working on it, but I could never put it in a program because I wasn't ever thinking about it.

"But Eteri and the rest of the coaches helped me, they said that I should do it in a program, I should try and start working on it.

"I tried it at Four Continents and Universiade, and the third time here I succeeded at it. I guess I will keep working on this jump."

10:42 pm – Zagitova and Medvedeva shrug off difficult seasons

Champion Alina Zagitova is here.

Asked by Olympic Channel 'what's next' after she added the world title to her Olympic crown, she said: "I tend not to make future plans because you can never really know what will happen tomorrow.

"I'm the type of person who really lives in the moment, for today, but the one thing I will say is that I will continue to compete."

Zagitova finished only fifth at this season's Russian nationals, while Evgenia Medvedeva did not qualify for the Grand Prix Final.

But Medvedeva said: "The world championship medals are already proof that we are not done."

Asked how she dealt with doubts after that disappointment at nationals, Zagitova said: "Well I actually intend to forget both my victories and failures, I simply set a goal for myself for the season and then start my journey towards that goal."

10:31 pm – Unbelievable quad

Tursynbaeva is asked about her quad Salchow. "I can't believe I landed it. It was pretty good in the practice today in the morning, but I couldn't let it in the program for the past two comps and I'm really glad that I did it here.

"When I stepped on the ice I just felt great, like 'I can do it', and it just happened."

10:28 pm – Medvedeva: "It's a really incredible feeling"

Medvedeva has also been speaking in English in the press conference. "I'm so satisfied with all my performances, with my short program and my free program.

"I just wanted to say that it's a really incredible feeling that I'm here now. It was really so frustrating for me and it was so hard to qualify here, but I made it and I'm really proud of our team.

"I'm proud of myself, but I'll only be happy for a few days then I'll calm down and be ready to work more."

Asked about her preparations for the Worlds, she said: "We just tried more work than usual. I did a lot for myself. It was rally the first time for me that I am doing a free program every day and sometimes a few free programs in a day, for me that was like 200 per cent work than I usually do …

"We worked hard, the whole team, and we got a medal."

10:22 pm – Tursynbaeva says medal was unexpected

History-maker Elizabet Tursynbaeva has become the first women's world medallist for her country.

Speaking in English at the press conference, she said: "Of course I'm really happy with my silver medal. It was unexpected for me, the first (women's) medal for Kazakhstan, I tried not to think about anything when I was competing, and just focus on my program."

The late Denis Ten won two men's world medals.

10:04 pm – The medallists

We're waiting for the three medallists to attend the press conference. They were presented with their medals in a podium ceremony on ice earlier.

By the way, the free skate small medals went to Zagitova (small gold), Rika Kihira (small silver), and Medvedeva (small bronze).

While we wait, you can read our recap of the action here.

Silver medallist Elizabet Tursynbaeva, gold medallist Alina Zagitova, and bronze medallist Evgenia Medvedeva pose on the podium after the Ladies' Free Skate. (REUTERS/Issei Kato)
Silver medallist Elizabet Tursynbaeva, gold medallist Alina Zagitova, and bronze medallist Evgenia Medvedeva pose on the podium after the Ladies' Free Skate. (REUTERS/Issei Kato)Silver medallist Elizabet Tursynbaeva, gold medallist Alina Zagitova, and bronze medallist Evgenia Medvedeva pose on the podium after the Ladies' Free Skate. (REUTERS/Issei Kato)

9:37 pm – Stay tuned for reaction

Don't go anywhere, we'll bring you the latest quotes and reaction from the skaters, as well as photo galleries from their performances, as soon as we get it.

9:27 pm – Alina Zagitova is world champion

Tursynbaeva has made history in that skate by landing her listed quad Sal.

She stepped out of a double Axel in that, and missed her last listed combination, but is getting massive cheers from the crowd.

This will be good enough for a medal. It won't be gold. The question is, what colour?

Alina Zagitova is the 2019 world champion.

It's silver for Tursynbaeva! She is delighted and gets a big hug from coach Eteri Tutberidze. Medvedeva will take bronze — the three Japanese skaters finish fourth, fifth, and sixth.

9:20 pm – Tursynbaeva lands quad Salchow

Elizabet Tursynbaeva from Kazakhstan becomes the first ladies' skater to land a clean quadruple jump in senior competition.

She is also the first woman to land a quad Salchow in any competition.

9:18 pm – Zagitova goes clean

So, one Russian skater is guaranteed a medal. Here comes our short program winner, Alina Zagitova. Can she add to Medvedeva's?

She's skating to the Carmen suite.

The elements are ticking off cleanly. This is quite stunning from the Olympic champion, who is almost certainly now also the world champion.

That will make her the first skater since Katarina Witt in 1984 to win the Olympic title before the world championship. If she isn't overtaken by Tursynbaeva, of course.

237.50, nearly 13 points ahead of Medvedeva in second. That is some result.

9:07 pm – Kaori Sakamoto pops flip

Here comes the last home skater, Kaori Sakamoto. She's in second and needs to make up 5.22 points on leader Alina Zagitova.

This is looking very elegant, all clean and smooth. Some beautiful combinations here… but she's popped a flip! Oh no, it was all looking so good for her.

Recovers with a beautiful triple loop-double toeloop combination, but that pop is going to cost her quite a few points.

She finishes her routine with her hands on her head. She knows she's missed a golden opportunity.

A big standing ovation from the crowd but she's in tears as she comes off the ice to hug her coach.

Oh, look at that, she's managed to smile in the Kiss-and-Cry. It's a season's best, but will put her into third behind Medvedeva — who is guaranteed a medal – and Kihira.

9:02 pm – Kihira reacts to her fall

A couple of errors including a fall for Eunsoo Lim of South Korea, who was skating after USA's Mariah Bell moved into sixth overall. Was either skater affected by the drama of the last few days (see 2:12 pm)?

This means going into the last three skaters, Medvedeva leads from Kihira and Miyahara.

We've just heard from Rika Kihira in the mixed zone. She wasn't exactly happy with her skate.

"I think it was a really great season. But I really want to elevate my goal so I don’t want to be satisfied with my performance now. This wasn’t the kind of performance that I would be satisfied with anyway but I don’t want to rest on my laurels, (I want to) train hard and stay injury free and aim higher.

"I want to become better especially in the next season."

How is she working on the triple Axel that cost her?

"Because of the triple axel not always working out when I’m not doing well with my 3A I wasn’t sure if should be practising them or doing a different kind of practice. I wasn’t able to figure out how to schedule my practice time or what to do. But incorporating ballet lessons into my practice ended up being very helpful."

8:46 pm – Medvedeva under-rotates Axel

Olympic silver medallist Evgenia Medvedeva is the first of the top six to skate.

No problems in any of her opening three elements: a triple Lutz, a triple Salchow-triple loop combination, and a triple Flip-double toeloop-double toeloop combination.

It's looking clean… but there's the first mistake. A slight problem, under-rotating on a double Axel, which she had jumped clean in a double Axel-triple toeloop combination two elements previously.

After the season she's had, that was a very impressive skate. Here come the flowers and toys onto the ice…

It's a season's best 149.57, a total of 223.80 which puts her into first. She's surprised! She looks happy. Goes above Kihira.

8:32 pm – Final group on ice

The last group are warming up now.

Remember, we're keeping an eye on Kazakhstan's Elizabet Tursynbaeva, who could land the first quad jump in senior ladies' competition.

She has the quadruple Salchow listed as her opening jump.

8:27 pm – Kihira falls on Axel

Satoko Miyahara has just overtaken Tennell for the lead after a strong free program that consisted of just a small error on the last jump of her combination.

Now it's time for the 16-year-old Rika Kihira. How will she fare after Wednesday's disappointment?

Triple Axel, triple toeloop combination to open is clean, but she falls on a triple Axel. Rebounds with a triple loop. A triple Lutz, double toeloop combination is followed by a nice triple flip. A triple Lutz, double toe, double loop combination and she finishes with a triple Salchow.

That was good, but for the fall. She'll go into first for now… but can she hold on for a podium spot?

It's a score of 152.59, for a total of 223.49. Six skaters to go. In the code of points judging era since 2004, seventh (where Kihira was after the short) is the lowest position any skater has come back from to win a medal. Will she do so as well?

8:00 pm – Tennell leads

USA's Bradie Tennell has gone into the lead with a strong free skate that beat her previous FS personal best by nearly six points. She's a cool 20 points clear of Loena Hendrickx in second.

Bradie Tennell chats to Meryl Davis after her free skate
Bradie Tennell chats to Meryl Davis after her free skateBradie Tennell chats to Meryl Davis after her free skate

7:44 pm – "Hanyu will unleash his inner samurai"

We've been speaking to Spanish skater Javier Raya, who trains at the Toronto Cricket Club just like Yuzuru Hanyu, on the latter's chances of winning the men's event tomorrow.

Raya told the Olympic Channel: "I honestly think Yuzuru tomorrow is going to unleash his inner samurai. He's going to skate amazing.

"He's special and he just does it in a different way, compared to all the other skaters...he just needs to be free and go with the feelings. Then everything is going to come out completely natural and free, because that's the way he's used to training every day at the rink. 

"If he goes that way he's going to be amazing, stunning."

7:35 pm – Group 3 on ice

Group 3 are now on ice for their warm-ups. Before they start their competition skate, why not watch this clip with Mao Asada describing other figure skaters in just one word?

Don't forget, Rika Kihira skates in this group.

6:53 pm – Figure skating originals!

Don't forget, the Olympic Channel has a wide range of figure skating content available to watch for free on our site now.

We've summarised six of the best you can watch for free: read about them (and watch them) here!

6:28 pm – Hanyu falls on practice runthrough

Hanyu fell on the opening Loop jump of his free skate runthrough in practice.

He did get back up and complete his routine.

6:09 pm – Waiting for Hanyu

We're also keeping an eye on the men's free skate practice session.

A crowd of journalists and Japanese fans has gathered in the practice rink. No surprise who they're hoping to see…

UPDATE (6:13 pm): He's here! As are Shoma Uno, Nathan Chen, and Matteo Rizzo. Jason Brown and Vincent Zhou aren't taking this practice.

6:05 pm – Times to note

The ladies' free program is underway. Here are the times you need to take note of for the medal favourites:

Rika Kihira, who popped her short program Axel, is in the second-to-last group and warms up at 7:35 pm. She skates at 8:22 pm.

The six skaters in the final group warm up at 8:30 pm. Evgenia Medvedeva goes first, at 8:38 pm, with Mariah Bell at 8:46 pm, and Eunsoo Lim at 8:54 pm.

Kaori Sakamoto, who is second after the short program, goes fourth in the last flight at 9:02 pm. Current leader Alina Zagitova skates at 9:10 pm, and Kazakhstan's Elizabet Tursynbaeva will be the last to take to the ice at 9:18 pm. We will know our champion by 9:27 pm.

5:21 pm – Meryl Davis' thoughts

Sochi 2014 ice dance champion Meryl Davis has been sharing her thoughts on that rhythm dance with us.

Like many other people, she couldn't get enough of Papadakis and Cizeron.

"Watching them, I sort of stop thinking about the details of their elements and kind of just lose myself in their movement and the story that they're telling. It really is very special, they are remarkable.

"You never know what can happen, but I think they are in a class of their own here. I think it's theirs to lose."

What's it like being on the other side and working in the media covering the ice dance instead of out there competing?

"It's interesting when it's your own event, and I feel like sort of those feelings of anticipation and knowing what it means to all the teams, respecting the time and effort and energy that they've all put into preparing for this, you feel for them."

5:03 pm – The big difference

Papadakis says she and Cizeron have been training hard on their technique.

"It's pretty hard on this program to have the levels that we want.

"We worked a lot of technique since Europeans. I think that's what made the big difference."

4:49 pm – Cizeron happy with "our best performance"

Speaking in the press conference, Guillaume Cizeron calls his and Papadakis' rhythm dance "definitely our best performance of the season".

"We're really happy about the way we skated today," he said. "I think it's our sixth World Championships together this year and we've been having a really great time on the ice, the audience was amazing. We felt really supported and we had a lot of fun."

4:27 pm – Hubbell: "We accomplished our goal"

While we wait to hear from Papadakis and Cizeron in the press conference, Olympic Channel's Meryl Davis, an Olympic champion in ice dance, has been speaking to Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue.

The American pair missed our on a small medal by just 0.01, finishing fourth behind Stepanova and Bukin of Russia.

But Hubbell says the team have achieved their aim from this short dance.

"Our goal coming into World Championships was to tighten up our technical, we've been losing points all season on levels missed here and there, especially with Tango Romantica, we had yet to have a 4-4 in competition.

"And today we accomplished our goal, skating very 'in the moment', precise, and that's exactly the feeling we had last year at Worlds when we won a medal. That's how we felt, just calm and connected."

Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue speak to Meryl Davis
Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue speak to Meryl DavisMadison Hubbell and Zach Donohue speak to Meryl Davis

4:09 pm – Papadakis and Cizeron shine

Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin have gone into second, 0.01 ahead of Hubbell and Donohue. Here come Olympic silver medallist and triple world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France.

That was beautiful. That gets a huge standing ovation from the crowd, most of whom have French flags up and have clearly come to see Papadakis and Cizeron. We're looking at the rhythm dance small winners here.

It's 88.42, nearly five whole points clear of Sinitsina and Katsalapov. They will be big favourites for a fourth world championship.

3:59 pm – Weaver and Poje react after performance

Canada's Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje currently sit in third – behind leaders Sinitsina/Katsalapov and Americans Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue.

"We felt great. We were really relaxed today, very easy to perform. A couple of balance checks on my behalf but looking at the protocol we were able to achieve our level fours," Weaver said.

Asked what their focus this season was, Poje replied: "Finding the new, fresh energy and finding the inspiration and our soul and really bringing that passion that we have on a daily basis into the competitive environment and just feeling what makes us happy."

Weaver added: "This year we've taken more ownership of our skating, of our training, of our choreography, even. So we really feel like we're showing ourselves when we're on the ice."

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje after their rhythm dance
Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje after their rhythm danceKaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje after their rhythm dance

3:32 pm – Shrugging off Europeans

Speaking to journalists in the mixed zone after their performance, Katsalapov was relieved at a clean rhythm dance today after a fall at the European Championships.

"We’ve really been working a lot since the past Nationals and this season has started really well. We have nice programs, we love them. We feel great in our team, with our coaches, with each other.

"So this stupid mistake at Europeans, it was just stupid, like I said there and I can say it now. Thank God I did it today and these are the points. We are really happy today."

3:05 pm – Ice dance heating up

We're now into the final two groups in the ice dance rhythm dance, where Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia have just gone into the lead. It's a big score, 83.94, comfortably a personal best. There are nine couples left to skate, with the top 20 (of 27) qualifying for tomorrow's free.

Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia pose after scoring a personal best in the rhythm dance
Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia pose after scoring a personal best in the rhythm danceVictoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia pose after scoring a personal best in the rhythm dance

2:23 pm — Saturday will be "just another day in the office, another step along the journey" for Jason Brown

Olympic Channel's Meryl Davis spoke exclusively to the USA's Jason Brown, who finished second in last night's men's short program. He told Davis he doesn't plan to change anything heading into Saturday's free skate.

"The approach going into the long is the same as it was in the short," said the 2014 Olympic bronze medallist. "I've been working so hard and training so well, and I just want to stay relaxed and put out a performance I've been training."

He added, "I did that for the short, that's what I hope to do for the long. Just another day in the office, another step along the journey."

That journey has moved him from his former training base in the States with coach Kori Ade to Toronto and coaches Tracy Wilson and Brian Orser.

"What's so amazing is that they've been with me from the start of the year, and they've kind of been through these highs and lows. Going through it with them, they're like, 'Jason, it's coming,'" he said of Wilson and Orser. "To feel the daily work paying off — and they saw me at such a low point when I was starting and the year was so rough... that just makes me so excited to continue with them, to keep pushing."

Jason Brown shares a smile after Friday's practice
Jason Brown shares a smile after Friday's practiceJason Brown shares a smile after Friday's practice

2:16 pm — Photos from today's men's free skate practice

2:12 pm — Practice incident

The International Skating Union have issued a statement regarding a practice incident between the USA's Mariah Bell and South Korea's Eunsoo Lim on Wednesday.

The ISU has been made aware of a statement published on March 20 by All-That Sports, and subsequently by the Korea Skating Union on March 21 about an incident which happened between Ms. Mariah Bell and Ms. Eun Soo Lim, during their practice on March 20 at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships.

The incident was verbally reported to the ISU by the Korean Team Leader however no formal complaint has been received.

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. The ISU maintains that this remains the appropriate approach.

US Figure Skating also issued the following statement:

The athletes met this (Friday, Japan time) morning and good luck wishes were exchanged. Mariah is looking forward to competing tonight in the ladies free skate.

1:42 pm — Ice dance underway

We're into group three of the ice dance rhythm dance competition and Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson of Great Britain currently lead. Don't miss our Instagram stories today, where Olympic champion Meryl Davis will be bringing you all the behind the scenes action.

1:17 pm — Red, white and blue only

Americans Nathan Chen, Jason Brown and Vincent Zhou, who finished first, second and fourth, respectively, have the rink to themselves currently as the final group of men for Saturday's free skate practice. Japanese men Yuzuru Hanyu and Shoma Uno, along with Italy's Matteo Rizzo, aren't on the ice.

1:12 pm — We were live with Meryl Davis and Jackie Wong!

In case you missed it, Olympic champion Meryl Davis and figure skating encyclopedia Jackie Wong (@rockerskating) joined us live on Twitter this morning to discuss last night's incredible men's short program and look ahead to all the action coming up today in Saitama.

1:06 pm – Practice time

The women were in practice earlier this morning ahead of the free skate tonight and now it's time for the men. We'll have photos coming your way shortly...

The final women's group in practice
The final women's group in practiceThe final women's group in practice

12:43 pm – Cherry blossom time

It's official - cherry blossom season has been declared in Tokyo, with Somei Yoshino cherry trees expected to be in full bloom in the coming days. Even the kiss-and-cry at the Saitama Super Arena is blossom-themed!

Blossom in Shinjuku Friday morning
Blossom in Shinjuku Friday morningBlossom in Shinjuku Friday morning

12:30 pm – Women's final day in Saitama!

Good morning once again figure skating fans from sunny Saitama, Japan! It's Friday, the day we find out the winner of the women's competition, and we could not be more excited! Join us here, all day, LIVE for the latest updates from the World Championships of Figure Skating and all the behind the scenes moments.

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