After nearly a year off the ice, Olympic figure skating champion Alina Zagitova returned with a performance at an exhibition gala in Moscow on Saturday (7 November), which was held with fans in attendance.
The 18-year-old skated two programs, one of her exhibitions from last season set to Outro, and a new routine with the music from the French musical Notre-Dame de Paris.
Writing on social media afterwards, the double Olympic medallist described her "inexpressible feelings from performing on ice", adding: "It's great that the festival took place at such a difficult time… glad it worked out.
"THANKS to everyone who came, supported me and gave me emotions that I will not forget."
Two-time world and seven-time European champion Javier Fernández was also on the ice at the "In Love with Figure Skating" show, thrilling his fans with two routines from his career.
Just last week, Zagitova spoke about the likelihood of making a competitive return being unclear.
"Will I return to sports? We'll see," she said, noting the coronavirus pandemic had left many competitions – such as Skate Canada, the Internationaux de France, the Grand Prix Final, and the Four Continents – cancelled or postponed indefinitely.
"It is a difficult situation for the whole sport."
Zagitova also spoke about tuning out social media criticism. "I have a good attitude towards haters. I used to pay a lot of attention to them," she said.
In Moscow, Zagitova – projecting the role of Esmeralda from the musical – had a mostly clean, relaxed skate, despite a fall on a jump, which choreographer Daniil Gleikhengauz joked was the fault of Fernández, who had skated before her.
"We joked that it was all Fernández, he left a hole behind him!"
"Super Javi" returns
On his return to the ice in Moscow, the city in which he won his sixth European championship in 2018, the Spaniard reprised two of his most popular exhibition programs for the fans.
The two-time world champion and PyeongChang 2018 bronze medallist skated to Spanish singer Pablo Alborán's Prometo, which he has previously used in various shows, as well as his highly popular "Super Javi" aerobics routine which he showed off at the PyeongChang 2018 exhibition gala.
Choreographer Gleikhengauz discusses skaters
Gleikhengauz, the lead choreographer for Eteri Tutberidze's Sambo-70 school, spoke to reporters at the event about Zagitova's future and also gave an update on the health of Evgenia Medvedeva.
In quotes reported by Sport24.ru, Gleikhengauz said Zagitova has been showing up to Tutberidze's training sessions more, despite her commitments to Ice Age.
Asked about Medvedeva, who is currently struggling with a back injury and has not yet competed this season since coronavirus travel restrictions forced her to switch coaches in September from Toronto-based Brian Orser to her former coach Tutberidze, Gleikhengauz said:
"She is still curing her back. The last time we saw each other, she said that she was better. But this worries her very much.
"We have to wait. As soon as she says that she feels well, her back does not hurt, we will prepare for the next competition."
Medvedeva, who won Olympic silver behind Zagitova in South Korea, is slated to compete at the ISU Rostelecom Cup Grand Prix, scheduled from 20–22 November, but Gleikhengauz expressed his doubts that she would recover in time to take part.