Alina Zagitova wins season opener with flawless free skate at Nebelhorn Trophy
Alina Zagitova is back.
The Olympic champion from Russia scored 158.50 points for her brand new free skate routine to take her overall score to 238.43 and run away with the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany.
The 16-year-old star finished 29.21 points clear of nearest rival Mai Mihara (Japan) on 209.22 points, Loena Hendrickx (Belgium) took third on 204.16.
Zagitova recorded a short program season high of 79.93 on Thursday and followed it up with a flawlessly executed free skate on Friday.
Moving freely and enjoying herself on the ice, this was a real tour-de-force, after which she smiled and waved to a captivated audience.
Watch the full free skate here:
Skating to Carmen's Bizet the Russian landed seven triple jumps, showcasing a triple-Lutz triple-loop and a triple-flip-double-toe-double-loop combination that scored big with the judges.
It all added up to a triumphant return to competition after a disappointing fifth place finish at the World Championships in March.
Armed with new routines for the competitive season, Zagitova has been working hard on and off the ice.
The Russian star was originally signed up to compete at the Ondrej Nepela Trophy in Slovakia, but was not allowed to leave Russia because her parental consent paperwork was of date.
Delaying her comeback by a week, Zagitova instead headed to the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany.
And she showed that her World Championship failure was a mere blip.
The smiles said it all, Zagitova unable to hide her delight at a near-perfect performance and giving everyone the impression of a young skater coming to terms with being Olympic champion.
Although perhaps not everyone was captivated by her skate.
Zagitova continues her season at the Japan Open on 6 October with USA's world men's champion Nathan Chen also headlining the free skate-only event.
But the Russian's display was a resounding statement ahead of the ISU Grand Prix Prix which starts at Skate America from 19-21 October in Everett, Washington State.