Alina Zagitova wins maiden home Grand Prix title

The Olympic champion remains undefeated this season after a dominant victory in Moscow.

Anything Yuzuru Hanyu can do, Alina Zagitova can do too.

The Olympic champions lived up to expectations at the fifth ISU Grand Prix event of the season in Moscow with Zagitova following Hanyu in taking overall victory.

The 16-year-old, competing in her first Grand Prix event on home ice, added 142.17 points in the free skate to her record breaking short program for a total of 222.95 points.

"My performance wasn't the best. I was glad that I could pull my combinations together. The last jump wasn't great. It was an unfortunate mistake. I will keep working on it." - Alina Zagitova after winning the Rostelecom Cup

Alina Zagitova:

Alina Zagitova: "I can't say my performance today was too good."

Zagitova's win sealed her spot in the Grand Prix Final in Vancouver which starts on 6 December.

Although the reigning Grand Prix Final champion has enjoyed comfortable wins in both Moscow and Helsinki, she knows the final will be a much stiffer test.

Japan's Rika Kihira won the NHK Trophy with the highest score of the Grand Prix so far, 224.31.

That's just under 1.5 points better than Zagitova's latest winning total, although the Russian did post a huge 238.43 in September's Nebelhorn Trophy.

So the PyeongChang gold medallist will need to up her game if she wants to retain her crown and continue her unbeaten record this season.

Alina Zagitova wins the free skate at Rostelecom Cup
Alina Zagitova wins the free skate at Rostelecom CupAlina Zagitova wins the free skate at Rostelecom Cup

Russians rise to the top

While the spotlight was on Zagitova, that did not stop her compatriot Sofia Samodurova rising to the occasion.

The 16-year-old was second after the short program and she stayed there thanks to a solid free skate which gave her an aggregate 198.01 points.

It's her best Grand Prix result to date after finishing third at Skate America in her first season on the senior circuit.

Samodurova now faces an anxious wait to see if she will make the Grand Prix Final with just the top six skaters qualifying.

“I am happy that I was able to skate two clean programs. There were some mistakes, my skate was not so clean, and this motivates me to work even harder.” - Sofia Samodurova

Rostelecom Cup podium [L-R]: Second-placed Sofia Samodurova, Alina Zagitova, Third-Placed Lim Eunsoo
Rostelecom Cup podium [L-R]: Second-placed Sofia Samodurova, Alina Zagitova, Third-Placed Lim EunsooRostelecom Cup podium [L-R]: Second-placed Sofia Samodurova, Alina Zagitova, Third-Placed Lim Eunsoo

Korea's Lim Eunsoo ensured that teenagers swept the podium.

The 15-year-old, who also graduated to the senior circuit this season, finished third with 185.67 points.

She landed four triple jumps and under-rotated a fifth for a season's best free skate score of 127.91.

“I didn’t do my best performance, but I tried to do better than in the short program. I have to skate better in my next competition, but overall I am satisfied. This season is really important for me, because it is my first senior season.” - Lim Eunsoo

Gold withdraws

Two-time American champion Gracie Gold decided to pull out on Saturday.

The 23-year-old was last of the 10-strong field after struggling in her short program on her return to competition.

It has been a difficult comeback for the six-time Grand Prix medallist who sat out the past season with mental health issues.

She took to social media to say she was "heartbroken" to withdraw from the free skate, and that the short program was perhaps "the most difficult thing I've ever done".

Gold also said the free skate might have damaged her "confidence and mental health" going into January's U.S. Nationals in Detroit, and thanked her fans for their support.

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