Sweet 16 as Shcherbakova leads Russian world figure skating sweep

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Anna Shcherbakova, just 16, clinched the women's world figure skating title on Friday, leading a Russian podium sweep only a year from the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

With a total of 233.17 points, Shcherbakova, who also led after the short programme, edged compatriots Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, the 2015 world champion (220.46 points), and fellow 16-year-old Alexandra Trusova (217.20).

All was not perfect, however, for Shcherbakova, who fell on her only attempt at a quadruple jump.

The rest of her free programme was impressively smooth.

"I really don't know what to say. I tried to do my best, I struggled on every element, so I'm not really happy with my performance," said the champion who will turn 17 on Sunday.

"But I am first: that was my goal. It was really a struggle. From the first element, it did not go as I wanted, and after, on each element, I said to myself 'I must try to do better and not to lose any points'."

Trusova, a pupil of former superstar Evgeni Plushenko, had struggled in 12th place in the short programme but staged an impressive recovery to make the podium on Friday.

Japan's Rika Kihira had been second going into the final, but she slumped to finish seventh (205.70 points).

The 18-year-old put in a performance without a quadruple jump, a triple Axel that turned into a double and which ended in a fall.

Meanwhile, Russia's Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov made the most of the absence of four-time winners Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron to take the rhythm dance programme of the ice dancing competition.

The European gold medallists scored 88.15 points skating to "Singin' in the Rain".

"We are quite satisfied with our performance, we were well prepared. In general, we showed what we can do, everything was clean enough, with our soul, easy enough," said Katsalapov.

"We need to have a good rest today, sleep well, have a good training session, check again if everything is in place, the whole programme, and go out and skate (in free dance) with pleasure."

Americans Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue (86.05 points) and Madison Chock and Evan Bates (85.15) filled out the top three.

Papadakis and Cizeron opted out of the championships to focus on their preparations for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.