Alina Zagitova unhappy despite winning short program at GP Helsinki
Olympic champion Alina Zagitova leads after the Friday's short program at the ISU Grand Prix of Helsinki.
But the 16-year-old was far from happy with herself after missing her first combination of jumps.
"I didn’t skate so well today, that’s all I can say right now." Alina Zagitova speaking to Olympic Channel
Skating to Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera, she was not the only athlete who had issues on the ice with several competitors making mistakes.
"I don’t want to look for any excuses for my mistakes, I try not to get distracted by any circumstances. I think if you’re an experienced skater, you need to learn how to get used to anything that could happen."
The Russian is known for her clinical execution of jumps but she suffered a wobbly start when she failed to pull off a triple Lutz-triple loop combination.
She quickly recovered, skating cleanly for the rest of her routine to lead the field by just over five points with a score of 68.90.
"Honestly it’s not so important for me. My score, my first place, doesn’t really matter when I don’t skate clean. I always want to do my job on the ice as best as I can. I wasn’t able to do that today, so I’m not pleased with myself."
Her frustration is understandable given that she set this season's short program record of 79.93 en route to winning the Nebelhorn Trophy in September.
Life as the Olympic champion
For Zagitova, this is her first full season competing as Olympic champion and she admits it has been a different experience.
However, she is learning to cope with the extra attention.
"I realised that I proved to myself everything I wanted to prove at the Olympics. Now I just want to skate, to enjoy myself and make the audience happy."
The Helsinki Ice Hall was packed with Japanese fans who have flocked to see men's double Olympic gold medallist Yuzuru Hanyu who starts his competition tomorrow.
But they were delighted to watch Yuna Shiraiwa take second place with a season's best short program score of 63.77.
"I was really happy to be able to do the first combination jump. That was the focus for this season actually. So I was very happy I cleared that combination." - Yuna Shiraiwa
Belgium's Loena Hendrickx was third despite under-rotating a couple of her jumps.
Given the circumstances, she was pleased with her performance.
"It wasn't perfect but I think i can be very happy as I had to withdraw from my first Grand Prix in Skate America because of illness, so I think I can be happy." - Loena Hendrickx after her short program
Zagitova's title to lose
The ladies' competition will conclude tomorrow with the free skate but Hendrickx has already conceded it would be really difficult to beat Zagitova
"Of course I would be very happy to skate clean tomorrow. But to win this, I don't think I can. My technical elements are not as strong as Alina." - Loena Hendrickx
Zagitova, meanwhile, will be looking to match her 2017-18 Grand Prix season where she won both her Grand Prix events before claiming victory in the Grand Prix Final.