MOSCOW: Russian teen Alina Zagitova dethroned champion Evgenia Medvedeva and trailblazing French ice dancers Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron set a new world record as the European Championships ended in style on Saturday.
Zagitova penned the latest chapter in her sensational first year on the senior circuit by claiming the women’s title and so deprive Medvedeva of a third straight crown.
The 15-year-old from the Western Urals produced a flawless free skate routine to take gold with 238.24 points.
Medvedeva, returning from injury, had to settle for silver with 232.86 while Italian veteran Carolina Kostner took bronze on 204.25 pts.
Zagitova, who as a four-year-old had not even tried on a pair of skates when Kostner was winning the first of her five European titles in 2007, produced four minutes of magical skating to Don Quixote.
Leading after Thursday’s short programme, she was nerveless on her European Championships debut to set the bar just a little too high for her training partner and three years her senior Medvedeva.
The little girl in red seduced the judges and the Megasport Palace crowd who showed their appreciation by throwing bundles of bouquets and bears onto the rink.
Zagitova is unusual in that she backloads her jumps to the second half of her routine, and so it was fully two minutes before her blades leapt off the ice for her opening triple lutz-triple loop combination.
She followed that with a double axel and triple toeloop with a dazzling array of jumps following. A few minutes later Medvedeva had her hands on her hips as if to say job well done after her routine to Anna Karenina.
But the Muscovite had her eyes closed as her result came through with her 154.79 compared to Zagitova’s 157.97 falling short of her free skating personal best. Medvedeva was making her comeback after breaking her right foot which ruled her out of the Grand Prix Finals and Russian championships, both won in her absence by Zagitova.
The two Russian skating stars will next clash at the Olympic Games in three weeks’ time where they look set to battle it out again for gold.