Fallen hopes: Zagitova, Kostner errors hand title to Osmond

Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada reacts after completing her women's free skating program, at the Figure Skating World Championships in Assago, near Milan, Italy, Friday, March 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada, center, winner of the women's free skating program, shows her gold medal on the podium with second placed Wakaba Higuchi of Japan, left, and third placed Satoko Miyahara of Japan, at the Figure Skating World Championships in Assago, near Milan, Italy, Friday, March 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
Alina Zagitova of Russia falls during the women's free skating program, at the Figure Skating World Championships in Assago, near Milan, Italy, Friday, March 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
Carolina Kostner of Italy falls during the women's free skating program, at the Figure Skating World Championships in Assago, near Milan, Italy, Friday, March 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada celebrates after winning the women's free skating program, at the Figure Skating World Championships in Assago, near Milan, Italy, Friday, March 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

ASSAGO, Italy — Olympic bronze medalist Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada won the figure skating world title Friday with a nearly perfect performance as Olympic champion Alina Zagitova fell a jaw-dropping three times and crowd favorite Carolina Kostner turned in a lackluster skate -- both tumbling completely off the podium.

Osmond, who skated first in the final group, watched with amazement from the sidelines after Zagitova's and Kostner's disastrous programs handed her the title and deprived the two favorites any medals at all. Japan's Wakaba Higuchi won silver and teammate Satoko Miyahara took bronze.

"I was fighting to skate clean and fighting to hit the podium. Being world champ is something I definitely never expected," said the 22-year-old Osmond, who ended a 45-year women's world title drought for Canada. "And Carolina and Zagitova are both very strong competitors and very consistent competitors. Unfortunately, it didn't work for them today, but they are always incredible to watch.

"I am just happy I did what I could today," said Osmond.

Skating to a Swan Lake-Black Swan suite, Osmond easily won the long program with 150.50 points for a total score of 223.23.

She hit seven triples with only a minor deduction for stepping out of a combination jump, seemingly leaving the door open to either Kostner, who had an eight-point lead after the short program, and the young Russian jumping genius, Zagitova, to battle for the title.

But Zagitova fell on a straight lutz, missing a combination, then fell again on two subsequent combinations. The 15-year-old waited two minutes to start her jumps, which in theory raises their value, but in this competition she seemed sapped of energy. The crowd rallied behind her in sympathy after the second fall, clapping rhythmically to urge her on.

All Kostner had to do was skate clean. But her nerves showed when she doubled an opening triple lutz. And she fell on a triple salchow late in the program and singled an axel. All of her artistic prowess couldn't make up for the errors in what could be her last world championship — in her home country no less.

Kostner said she wasn't aware of Zagitova's errors when she took the ice last.

"You can see the fatigue in everyone's legs. We are all human beings. We have strong emotions when we are out there," Kostner said. "I think that above all, the fact of feeling nervousness means it is important for us. You know how much work we have put in."

While she said she was disappointed with the result, the 31-year-old former world title holder and Olympic bronze medalist said she wouldn't decide her future in the heat of the moment.

In a roller-coaster 15-year career, Kostner has won 11 European medals, the most of any woman, and three world championship medals in 14 appearances. There also have been painful moments, including a suspension for lying to doping officials for an ex-boyfriend that cost her two seasons.

Zagitova, who looked stunned at the end of her program, refused to comment.

Japan's medals ensure its team three spots at worlds next year, which will be in Japan.

Americans Bradie Tennell and Mirai Nagasu finished sixth and tenth, respectively, leaving the U.S. women with just two spots next year.

In the ice dance, Olympic silver medalists Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France skated with nary a wardrobe mishap to lead the short program with a season's best performance

Papadakis wore the same tropical flare dress that came undone during the Olympics -- this time with extra safety measures sewed in during a trip to their training home in Montreal. And Cizeron had on his sleeveless muscle shirt as they performed perfectly executed direction-changing spins in unison and quick-moving rhumba steps to Latin dance and a musical medley including Ed Sheeran's "Shape of You."

After the opening of her dress made headlines in South Korea, Papadakis said she made sure that it wouldn't "open in anyway,"

"And it didn't," she said triumphantly.

There was something about the Italian ice that brought out the best in the ice dancers, with all top three couples in the short skating season-best performances.

The French couple, the only Olympic medalists at worlds, had 83.73 points ahead of U.S. couple Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, who pierced the 80-point ceiling for the first time. Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje finished third with 78.31.

"We wanted to go home from the Olympics and keep improving and really put out an incredible performance," Hubbell said, adding that they were especially pleased to have achieved the highest levels for all their elements. "We really feel we gave our best performance today."

___

This story has been corrected to change the spelling of Kaetlyn Osmond's first name.

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