Helsinki, Finland

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Alina Zagitova (RUS) 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)

Olympic Champion Alina Zagitova of Russia captured the lead in the Ladies Short Program at the Grand Prix Helsinki on Friday. In an event with some surprises, Japan’s Yuna Shiraiwa placed second, edging Loena Hendrickx of Belgium. 

Performing to the “Phantom of the Opera”, Zagitova went for her trademark triple Lutz-triple loop combination, but singled the loop. The European Champion rallied back to nail a double Axel and a triple flip and picked up a level four for her spins and footwork to earn 68.90 points. 

“(After missing the combination) I thought I have to do all the other elements clean,” the 16-year-old said. “The combination was the first element and I still had all the other elements. I knew that the season after the Olympic Games will be hard, especially emotionally. I had my two weeks' vacation as usual, then the training camp and the preparation for the season started.”

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Yuna Shiraiwa (JPN) 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)

Shiraiwa’s entertaining program to “Nightmare” and “On Board” featured a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination, a triple flip and double Axel, but two spins and the footwork merited only a level two. The Japanese skater set a season’s best with 63.77 points. 

“I am happy to land the combination,” the high school student said. “That was the focus for this season, so I’m very happy I did it. The story of my program is, I am a crew member and guide the passengers. The audience are the passengers for me and I hope I guide them well.” 

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Loena Hendrickx (BEL) 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)

Hendrickx landed a triple Lutz-triple toe, but the toeloop was underrotated. She also underrotated her triple flip, but collected a level four for her spins and footwork to score 63.17 points. “It wasn’t perfect, but I can be very happy,” she said. “I had to withdraw from my first Grand Prix Skate America (after the Short Program) due to illness.” 

Stanislava Konstantinova (RUS) came fourth on 62.56 points after falling on a triple flip attempt. Emmi Peltonen (FIN) sits in fifth with a solid performance (59.90 points), followed by Daria Panenkova (RUS). The 2018 Four Continents Champion Kaori Sakamoto (JPN), a medal favorite, finished seventh on 57.26 points as she fell on two jumps.

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