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Zagitova pulls up to win second Grand Prix gold

Sotskova holds firm to secure silver; Osmond slips from first to third
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Continuing her meteoric rise in the sport, Alina Zagitova of Russia recorded a free skate score (151.34) that has been bettered by only one person in history -- her training mate, and two-time reigning world champion, Evgenia Medvedeva. The 15-year-old Russian rose from fifth after the short to claim the title on the strength of her 213.80-point competition score, and, after also winning the gold at Cup of China, she secured a place in the Grand Prix Final. -Getty Images

She did it again!

Reigning world junior champion Alina Zagitova of Russia vaulted from fifth after the short program to first in the free skate -- similar to what she had done at Cup of China two weeks ago -- to earn the title at the 2017 Internationaux de France, capturing her second gold medal of this fall's Grand Prix Series.

Russia's Maria Sotskova delivered a smooth skate on her way to taking the silver, and Canada's Kaetlyn Osmond, who stood in first coming into the day, earned the bronze. 

Zagitova, dressed as a ballerina from the era of Leon Minkus and Marius Petipa, delivered a perfect and splendid performance, set to Minkus' famous Don Quixote score. She attempted all of her jumps in the second half of her program, and after she was done with those elements, her program turned into a festival. She landed an all-too-rare triple lutz-triple loop combination, followed by a double axel-triple toe and a triple flip-double toe-double loop, and she ended with a triple lutz, triple salchow and triple flip. Her three spins and step sequence were rated Level 4, and all of her elements (except for her final double axel) received Grades of Execution higher than 1.0.

Zagitova amassed a personal-best 151.34 points for her free and 213.80 overall.

"I was not satisfied at all with my short program yesterday," Zavigota explained. "I wanted to skate it well, but I think something happened in my head! I really wanted to skate a clean free program today. It's the second season I've skated this program, so I feel more comfortable with it. Also, I think this ballet suits me very well."

Zagitova has grown up and matured so much this past year. Those who saw her win the Junior Grand Prix Final in Marseille last season would have a hard time recognizing her now.

"Keeping your technique through this age is very difficult," her coach, Eteri Tutberidze, admitted. "You have to always 'pull it' and never stop, not a single day. Body changes, mind is changing, you can never relax. You have to work and talk. That's the motto: Work and talk."

Sotskova delivered a magnificent and fluid performance to "Clair de Lune." She landed seven clean triple jumps, among which were two powerful combinations: a triple lutz-triple toe and a triple flip-loop-triple toe. Two of her spins and her step sequence were rated Level 4; her last spin merited a Level 3.

She received 140.99 points in the free, a new personal best, and 208.78 points overall.

"I'm just pleased that I skated a clean program," Sotskova said in her usual candid way. "It's a consistent performance to build upon. I really hope I can make it to the (Grand Prix) Final this year again," she added with a smile. (Editor's note: She did.)

Osmond started her expressive Swan Lake program in the most promising way -- with a powerful triple flip-triple toe combination, which was followed by a double axel-triple toe and a triple lutz. Her program lost some of its substance, however, when she fell on her triple loop right at the moment of a musical crescendo. She also singled her last double axel. Two of her spins merited a Level 4, as did her step sequence.

She garnered 137.72 points for her free and 206.77 overall.

"Overall, I'm happy with my performance," Osmond said. "It wasn't great, I made many mistakes, but what I've done I've done the best I could do."

Japan's Mai Mihara put out a strong performance and kept her fourth-place standing. Skating to Ennio Morricone's music from The Mission, the 2017 Four Continents champion landed seven triple jumps, four of which came in her two triple lutz-triple toe combinations. She amassed 137.55 points for her free program and 202.12 points overall.

Skating to "The Prayer" by Céline Dion and Andre Boccelli, Elizabet Tursynbaeva of Kazakhstan offered the third-best free program of the day, one that featured seven triple jumps and three Level 4 elements. She amassed 138.69 points for her free program, a new career high, and 200.98 points altogether.

Team USA's Polina Edmunds fell on her most difficult elements, the triple lutz and triple flip, but managed to hold onto her other elements. She landed two double axels, one in combination with a triple toe and the other with a triple salchow, and a solo triple salchow.

"The lutz and flip are still very challenging for me, after my injury," she explained. "I'm happy that I didn't let my other jumps go."

She garnered 101.46 points for the free and 157.73 overall.

Edmunds skated to "Time to Say Goodbye" ("Con Te, Partiro," in Andrea Boccelli's original song).

"That's what this program is, really -- saying goodbye to my childhood and taking reality in my hands," Edmunds explained. "I've grown so much in two years. It's a new me. My ultimate goal is to be on the Olympic team. It feels good to practice competing on the world stage again before our nationals."