Russian 15-year-old Alina Zagitova gave a stunning performance in her free skate to win gold in women’s figure skating, retaining the tiny edge that she earned over fellow Russian and two-time world champion Evgenia Medvedeva in the short program.
Zagitova and Medvedeva were both essentially perfect in today’s free skate, posting exactly identical scores. (Despite the fact that Zagitova’s program had a slightly higher technical score, due to the fact that she received a bonus for backloading all of her jumps into the second half.) That meant that it all came back to the world-record performance that Zagitova gave in the short program from earlier in the week, which left her with an unexpected leg up over her 18-year-old training partner Medvedeva, who’d entered the competition as a strong favorite.
Canadian Kaetlyn Osmond took the bronze.
Meanwhile, it was a frustrating night for the American women, who hadn’t exactly entered as favorites and were placed ninth, tenth and eleventh after the short program: Bradie Tennell and Karen Chen fell, while Mirai Nagasu flubbed her star element, the triple axel, meaning that none of them moved up in the standings. It’s the worst performance in decades for the United States; at least one American woman has placed sixth or higher in every Olympics since World War II.