Figure Skating World Championships 2019: As it happened - Wednesday

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

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

CLICK HERE for Thursday's live blog.

10:25 pm – Your short program small medallists

Here are your ladies' short program small medallists with their silverware: Kaori Sakamoto (small silver), Alina Zagitova (small gold), and Elizabet Tursynbaeva (small bronze). You can read our recap of the day here.

Thanks for following our live coverage today. Come back tomorrow when we'll bring you the conclusion of the pairs free skate as well as the men's short program.

2019 ISU Figure Skating World Championships Ladies' short program small medallists
2019 ISU Figure Skating World Championships Ladies' short program small medallists2019 ISU Figure Skating World Championships Ladies' short program small medallists

10:00 pm – Will Hanyu get to carry the Olympic torch?

On a semi-related note, Japan is of course hosting the Olympic Games next year in Tokyo. The Olympic torch was unveiled today! Maybe two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu will be invited to carry the torch during the Relay? Who else should be given the honour?

Olympic Torch for Tokyo 2020 is revealed!

Olympic Torch for Tokyo 2020 is revealed!

9:46 pm – Sakamoto on bouncing back from Four Continents disappointment

Kaori Sakamoto, who finished second today, missed out on a Four Continents medal early last month by just 0.33 points, and explains how that made her up her training to about eight hours a day, approximately.

"For about a month after I came back, I was quite disappointed so I decided to increase my training volume, even more so than I had been doing before the Olympics (in 2018), and I also added on some training programmes in addition to my typical practice. I really worked to prepare."

9:42 pm – Zagitova discusses mental challenges

The Olympic champion says she has had to work on the psychological side of her sport this season.

"During this season, I actually experienced many mistakes during practice and that made me more nervous. But thanks to tremendous support from my coaches, I was able to overcome those mistakes and errors and really get prepared mentally which was what I needed to do for this competition.

In every season, you begin from zero, so that's what I do. Also during training, I really work with my coaches to focus on elements that I do poorly at, and that helps me get prepared for the next competition. Mentally, I'm actually always very calm when I come to Japan for a competition, and I feel that gives me strength."

World Champs leader Zagitova thanks coaches

World Champs leader Zagitova thanks coaches "for putting up with me"

9:37 pm – Tutberidze disciples discuss competition

Zagitova and small bronze medal winner Elizabet Tursynbaeva train together, under coach Eteri Tutberidze, and they've been discussing their rivalry.

"Obviously in figure skating, there is always competition," Zagitova said. "Obviously in our group as well, we also have that. Competition makes for a healthy relationship in the sport."

Tursynbaeva added: "When I'm on the ice training, I mainly think about working on my stuff, I'm competing with myself."

9:33 pm – Zagitova 'satisfied'

Short program winner Zagitova has praised the Japanese fans when asked about the support for her performance today.

"The Japanese audience is always very welcoming, so every time I get to perform here, I'm very happy.

"I'm quite satisfied. For my free program, I want to make sure I can do the very best possible from my perspective."

9:15 pm – Kihira: "I have no choice" but to pull off comeback

The skaters have been speaking to media following a dramatic final session that saw Rika Kihira finish seventh and Alina Zagitova win the short program.

When asked by Olympic Channel if she could pull off another comeback, as she did at the Four Continents last month, Kihira told us: "I really have to do it. That's the feeling I have. Now it's not about whether I can or I can't — I have to do it. I have no choice."

Rika Kihira in the mixed zone after her short program
Rika Kihira in the mixed zone after her short programRika Kihira in the mixed zone after her short program

8:56 pm – Stunning from Zagitova

The Olympic champion really wants this Worlds medal after last year's surprise defeat. That was a stunning routine, opening with a flawless triple Lutz, triple loop combination.

82.08 points, a new season's best for the Russian. That's over five points clear of second-placed Kaori Sakamoto.

Alina Zagitova skates during her short program in Saitama
Alina Zagitova skates during her short program in SaitamaAlina Zagitova skates during her short program in Saitama

8:48 pm – Kihira pops triple Axel!

After landing three clean triple Axels in her warm-up, home favourite Rika Kihira has faltered in competition! Her 3A ended up being only a 1A — the field is wide open now.

It means her team-mate Sakamoto will continue to lead. Sakamoto's aims? Well, to win, but she sounded a note of caution: "Of course that’s my target but I really have to make no mistake at all for the free skate so I feel very motivated to do [that]."

Kihira's score is in. It's a 70.90, only good for sixth with Alina Zagitova still to skate. Kihira won't be in the final group in the free.

Rika Kihira performing a jump during her short program in Saitama
Rika Kihira performing a jump during her short program in SaitamaRika Kihira performing a jump during her short program in Saitama

8:42 pm – Medvedeva gets a standing ovation

After disappointments for Bradie Tennell and Satoko Miyahara, the crowd finally have something to cheer. Olympic silver medallist Evgenia Medvedeva appears to have put her tough season behind her with a clean skate, earning a standing O from the spectators. She goes into third with a season's best 74.23, although her Toeloop was called under-rotated. It means Sakamoto is guaranteed a small medal.

8:25 pm – Kaori Sakamoto into first

The first skater in the final group, Japan's Kaori Sakamoto, gets a score of 76.86 — the third best awarded to anyone this season — and moves into first.

She received a standing ovation, of course.

8:14 pm – Tursynbaeva will try quad Sal in free

The current leader with six to skate, Tursynbaeva confirms she will attempt to become the first female skater to land a quad jump in senior competition.

She says her quadruple Salchow is getting "more consistent" and she's having fun doing it. She will include the jump in her free skate.

Tursynbaeva poses after her short program
Tursynbaeva poses after her short programTursynbaeva poses after her short program

8:04 pm – "Yuna Kim gives me advice"

Lim has been speaking about her relationship with idol Yuna Kim, the Vancouver 2010 Olympic champion.

"She's really fantastic, to talk to or to get some advice from her, it's really helpful. If I have problems, she gives me advice to develop, by text."

Meanwhile, Kazakhstan's Elizabet Tursynbaeva has gone into the lead.

7:52 pm – Standing ovations galore

After Daleman, South Korea's Lim Eunsoo went into the lead, and the USA's Mariah Bell has just slotted in behind her in second. All three skaters received standing ovations from the crowd. There could be a lot more of those to come. Bell's short program was choreographed by Adam Rippon, the PyeongChang 2018 team bronze medallist.

Lim Eunsoo after her short program
Lim Eunsoo after her short programLim Eunsoo after her short program

7:35 pm – Last two groups

After some time off for the ice to be resurfaced, we're into the last two groups, beginning with Canada's team Olympic champion Gabrielle Daleman, who is skating to music from Carmen. She won't be the last to do that tonight…

Her skate gets a huge response from the crowd. She threw in a big triple Toeloop, triple Toeloop combination in there.

7:06 pm – Tension building

The tension is building as we near the last two groups in the ladies' short program. Only the top 24 will qualify for the free skate on Friday.

Currently, the skaters definitely through are: Nicole Schott, Loena Hendrickx, Christy Leung Yi, Chen Hongyi, Dasa Grm, Ekaterina Ryabova, Alexandra Feigin, Natasha McKay, Alaine Chartrand, Eva Lotta Kiibus, and Isadora Williams.

13 skaters left to skate.

6:25 pm – Men's singles short program draw

There's an unfortunate fall on a double Axel for Alexia Paganini in the ladies' short program, and that as well as an earlier fall in her program probably puts her out of contention for the free skate.

Meanwhile, we're at the draw for tomorrow's men's singles short program skating order.

The final group will be, in order: Yuzuru Hanyu, Shoma Uno, Jason Brown, Mikhail Kolyada, Keegan Messing, and defending champion Nathan Chen.

You can see some photos from Uno's Wednesday evening practice skate below.

5:59 pm – He's everywhere!

It's impossible to escape Hanyu when in Japan. Here he is, on the front pages of the local sports newspapers.

Yuzuru Hanyu is headline news on Japanese sports tabloids
Yuzuru Hanyu is headline news on Japanese sports tabloidsYuzuru Hanyu is headline news on Japanese sports tabloids

5:26 pm – Hanyu falls in practice

Yuzuru Hanyu has slipped on entry to his quad loop in his Wednesday evening practice before tomorrow's competition. He's back up on his feet though. He hasn't gone for his full run-through tonight.

5:01 pm – Shoma Uno as you've never seen him before

4:22 pm – While we wait…

The early groups in the ladies' short program are currently out on the ice. The medal contenders, who will skate in the last two groups, should be out there from just after 7:30 pm.

But while we wait for behind-the-scenes reaction from the skaters yet to come, why not check out this week's Olympic Channel Podcast with Meryl Davis? The Olympic Channel's Scott Bregman spoke to her about a wide range of topics, including Evgenia Medvedeva and Yuzuru Hanyu.

"He has such talent but you can’t compete at this level without the daily discipline and commitment which he clearly has. And to maintain that over such a length of time – it hasn’t been easy."

Go on, click the link above to hear more.

4:03 pm – Denis Ten tribute

Organisers in Saitama have dedicated a special space to 'D10 World', an exhibition remembering the late Olympic medallist Denis Ten of Kazakhstan, who was murdered last year.

'D10 World', a tribute exhibition in Saitama dedicated to Denis Ten
'D10 World', a tribute exhibition in Saitama dedicated to Denis Ten'D10 World', a tribute exhibition in Saitama dedicated to Denis Ten

3:35 pm – Exclusive with Vanessa James

Our intrepid reporter on the ground has managed to find Vanessa James for a quick chat following her earlier crash and fall.

"I was a little out of it after the six-minute warm-up and the collision with Matteo. I didn't see it but people told me that he really did try to save me and he had really good reflexes so I thank him for that.

"During the program, I started getting really tired, so I think it was just the shock and a little bit of a headache but all in all there's no serious injuries or anything so."

When asked if she had undergone concussion protocols, James confirmed she had seen the team doctor, "to just make sure, because I have a headache, but other than that my eyes aren't dilated or anything so it should be fine."

Will she skate tomorrow? "I think so. We've had some hard situations but we always push through them."

Vanessa James poses after a difficult short program
Vanessa James poses after a difficult short programVanessa James poses after a difficult short program

3:20 pm – Zagitova's dog is a superstar

Remember when Alina Zagitova received an Akita dog for winning PyeongChang 2018 Olympic gold?

Well, plushies of her dog Masaru are being sold in Saitama!

Plushies of Alina Zagitova's dog Masaru are sold in Saitama
Plushies of Alina Zagitova's dog Masaru are sold in SaitamaPlushies of Alina Zagitova's dog Masaru are sold in Saitama

2:55 pm – Hanyu thanks Javier Fernández for support

In his notes for the competition's official programme, Yuzuru Hanyu thanked Javier Fernández for his support while out injured this season.

"I was injured this season but have been supported by the daily encouragement of Javier, Evgeni Plushenko, and Dick Button.

"Javier's thrilling performance at the European Championships made me want to be stronger, too."

Remember when he sent Fernández this touching message to mark his retirement?

2:14 pm – James/Ciprès coach says warm-up incident "affected them 100%"

Vanessa James' and Morgan Ciprès' coach, John Zimmerman, admits the incident between James and Italian skater Matteo Guarise in the on-ice warm-up "affected them 100%".

"I don't think it's possible to catch the Russians and Chinese," he added. "It's not going to happen."

Will they start tomorrow, can she skate? "Well, we're going to find out. She got hit pretty hard. We'll look at the video."

Fellow coach Silvia Fontana added dryly: "We were walking out to go watch them skate and we said to each other, 'as long as nothing weird happens, they are ready'. But something weird happened."

CBC Sports' PJ Kwong has uploaded this short interview with Guarise about the incident with James during warm-up.

1:32 pm – James falls

Did that warm-up crash affect James? She's fallen on a throw. Earlier in the program, Ciprès doubled a planned triple Toeloop. This will take some doing to beat leaders Tarasova and Morozov.

UPDATE: They've finished the short program in seventh. They won't be in the final group in tomorrow's free skate. Congratulations to Tarasova and Morozov, the short program small gold medallists.

Vanessa James falls on an attempted throw triple flip during the pairs short program.
Vanessa James falls on an attempted throw triple flip during the pairs short program.Vanessa James falls on an attempted throw triple flip during the pairs short program.

1:13 pm – Conclusion of the pairs short program

We're just going through warm-ups now for the last four pairs to take to the ice, including the 2018 world silver and bronze medallists Evgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov and Vanessa James/Morgan Ciprès. James seemed to collide with Italy's Matteo Guarise while both skaters attempted jumps during that on-ice warm-up. Both appear to be fine.

1:09 pm — Mexico's Donovan Carrillo Suazo has a message for his fans

"It doesn't matter about adversities, work hard and never give up!" — Carrillo Suazo

12:47 pm — Sui feeling "more and more confident"

Sui Wenjing admitted after an incredible short program performance that coming into the World Championships, they didn't feel completely prepared, according to an official with the Chinese team. But after her first practice with partner Han Cong felt, "more and more confident," she said.

Despite leading currently, the pair is focused on a strong performance in the free program, not results, according to the official.

Sui Wenjing and Han Cong pose in the mixed zone
Sui Wenjing and Han Cong pose in the mixed zoneSui Wenjing and Han Cong pose in the mixed zone

12:35 pm - No problems for China's Sui and Han

China's Sui Wenjing and Han Cong are the current leaders in the pairs short program with the final two groups to come. Sui and Han took the pairs gold at the recent Four Continents Championships in Anaheim, California, but there was speculation that an injury to Sui in mid-February might affect them in Saitama.

If the injury did have an impact, it didn't show. They beat their short program score at Four Continents by more than five points today. Their 79.24 is the highest pairs short program of the season.

11:49 am - Meryl's picks for gold

We put Meryl Davis on the spot and asked for her picks in all four categories to take the World titles. Find out who she chose below.

Meryl Davis gives her Figure Skating World Championships 2019 predictions

Meryl Davis gives her Figure Skating World Championships 2019 predictions

11:35 am — Calm before the storm...

It's quiet now, but here's the mixed zone where skaters - whether they triumph or fall short of their expectations - will have to face the media after they perform, including the Olympic Channel. Stay tuned from reaction from the top skaters here in Saitama.

The mixed zone at the World Figure Skating Championships
The mixed zone at the World Figure Skating ChampionshipsThe mixed zone at the World Figure Skating Championships

11:23 am — Olympic Channel Podcast with Meryl Davis

2014 ice dance Olympic gold medalist Meryl Davis chatted about her pre-competition training, her favorite program, Yuzuru Hanyu, Evgenia Medvedeva and more on this week's Olympic Channel Podcast.

11:11 am — Rika ready

We caught Grand Prix Final and Four Continents champ Rika Kihira as she boarded the bus on her way to the final women's practice before competition the ladies' competition kicks off later today. Kihira is scheduled to skate at 8:43 pm local time.

Japanese star Rika Kihira heads to practice ahead of ladies' short program
Japanese star Rika Kihira heads to practice ahead of ladies' short programJapanese star Rika Kihira heads to practice ahead of ladies' short program

10:57 am — Competition has begun!

The pairs competition began about half an hour ago, complete with an appearance from the official mascot Tamarlin.

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