Russian teenager Alina Zagitova performed a near-flawless program to defeat fellow countrywoman Yevgenia Medvedeva and capture her first European figure-skating championship.
The victory on January 20 in Moscow’s Megasport Palace by the 15-year-old Zagitova broke a two-year winning streak by the 18-year-old Medvedeva, who finished second.
"To skate at home is on the one hand harder, because you don't want to let down your home and your fans. On the other hand, it is easier, because you get so much support," Zagitova said.
Zagitova finished with 238.24 points and will likely be considered a top contender for gold at the Winter Olympics on February 9-25 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Medvedeva, who finished with 232.86 points, missed several tournaments this season recovering from stress fracture in her foot.
"There were some moments during the skate when the two-month break had an impact," she said.
Zagitova and Medvedeva are among the nearly 400 Russian athletes who have been deemed eligible to compete in the Winter Olympics by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The IOC banned Russia last month from the upcoming games, citing its "unprecedented systematic manipulation" of the antidoping system.
But it said some Russians would be allowed to compete as neutral athletes provided they meet certain guidelines on doping.
Based on reporting by Reuters, NBC, and AP