Worlds 2018, day one: Queen Carolina takes the lead

March 22, 2018
By Titanilla Bőd (Új Szó)
Photos © Mireille Geurts & Joy

If you couldn't follow the competition live, make sure you don't miss the short programs of Carolina Kostner and Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot at the Worlds in Milan - they were real highlights of the day. Sometimes it's not the competitor in the lead who steals the show but this time both leaders' performaces were truly outstanding. Here are some impressions about day one in Milan.

The queen: Carolina Kostner

The queues were longer than in front of the impressive Milano Duomo. It was an unusual sight - on a workday, shortly before 11 a.m. people of Milan and fans from all over the world were waiting to be let in the Mediolanum Forum to watch ladies' short program.
"15 years ago when I started to compete internationally, nobody came to watch figure skating in Italy and now we fill up this big venue," Carolina Kostner confessed. There was no need to use the plural pronoun "we". It was mainly her who filled up that big venue. Throughout the years she became one of the most influential skaters, a true artist and brave competitor, who had the jumps but also had the emotions, who had iconic music choices and delivered epic programs.
"Ne me quitte pas" is one of them. In Moscow and at the PyeongChang Olympics the crowd watched it in total silence. But who can talk about silence in Italy, when the home star is taking the ice? The Mediolanum Forum erupted after each completed element, and they were exquisite ones. Carolina's jump technique got even more solid thanks to the cooperation with Alexei Mishin. She landed a triple flip, triple toe-loop combination, a triple loop and a double Axel, and had level four spins and steps. This meant 41,30 points for her in technique, and something that hasn't happened to Carolina lately: that she earned higher score for technique than for the program components. And it doesn't mean this program was not a piece of art - it simply shows what a technical perfection Carolina reached also besides the emotional involvement.
"I am amazed and happy any joyful to be here. For me it's a big honor, like a big cherry on the cake. I already felt amazing even before my performance because skating in my home country is so, so special and so emotional. You could feel the silence, you could feel the tears," a moved Carolina said after she left the ice.
When her score, 80,74 points appeared on the screen - a season's and personal best - the crowd went crazy.

The surprise: Zagitova not in the lead

And their excitement got even bigger: reigning Olympic champion Alina Zagitova was not as shining as in South Korea. Her "Black Swan" program featured a triple Lutz, triple loop combination, a triple flip and the double Axel, also level four spins and footwork. But there were some minor issues, and overall the skate lacked the emotions. The Russian skater earned 79,51 points for her short program and surprisingly lies second. "I am not that happy with my performance. The combination could have been better and I felt I was tight overall in the program," Zagitova commented on her short program.
After the two leaders there is a huge gap, Satoko Miyahara of Japan is third with 74,36 points, while Olympic bronze medalist Kaetlyn Osmond is fourth, earning 72,73 points.

That man and that jump: Bruno Massot and the triple Salchow

At the Olympics he made a mistake on that jump. It was a heartbreaking moment, mostly because Aljona was not aware of the mistake. When she realized it after the program ended, after the first explosion of euphory, it seemed this mistake would ruin their Olympic dreams. The story of Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot, however, became in the end the most moving, most cathartic story of the Games, and the German pair could take the Worlds as a lap of honour.
Skating to "That Man" by Caro Emerald they performed their playful routine full of energy, Bruno landed the triple Salchow without the slightest problem, and Aljona held together the landing on the throw triple flip despite going down deep in knee. Their short program was worth 82,98 points, a long-awaited new personal best.

The feeling in the air: season is over, wheee!

There were 28 pairs altogether at the Worlds, and the field was really tough. European champions Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov placed second in the short program, while Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres of France were third despite some small mistakes. The Russian couple is only 1,59 points behind the Germans, while the third and the 11 th place is divided only by less than six points.
This forecasts an interesting free skating with some possible twists in the rankings. Usually when the competition is so tight you would see tense faces everywhere, but at the end of the long Olympic season everyone feels rather happy that in a few days they can finally have a rest. When the top three couples were asked at the press conference how they feel about the last free skate of the season, all of them cheered. Skating without pressure usually means good performances, so we can look forward to a great free skating night.

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