Ice princess Zagitova eyes more gold in Milan

by Emmeline MOORE

Milan (AFP) - Newly-crowned Olympic champion Alina Zagitova will be looking to continue her golden run as the Russian starlet chases a first world title four weeks after lifting gold in Pyeongchang.

The post-Olympic world championships will be without many of the medallists from Pyeongchang including Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu, the men's champion who is out with injury.

Fifteen-year-old Zagitova and German pairs skaters Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot are the only winners from South Korea competing this week.

Two-time holder Yevgenia Medvedeva will not defend her title after her silver behind Zagitova in South Korea as the Russian nurses a recurring foot injury.

And after her fairytale Olympic gold Zagitova is now targeting world records in Milan starting in Wednesday's short programme.

"I want to improve my programmes to set up the new world records. But my main goal is to skate neatly and to show good results," said Zagitova, who could become the first Olympic women's champion to win worlds the following month since Kristi Yamaguchi in 1992.

Olympic bronze medallist Kaetlyn Osmond and former world silver medallist Satoko Miyahara of Japan will be among her challengers.

Veteran Carolina Kostner, who finished fourth in Pyeongchang will carry home hopes, as she competes in her 14th world championships.

The 31-year-old has six world medals -- including the gold in 2012 -- going back to her first a bronze in 2005.

Podium challengers also include Russia's Maria Sotskova, Wakaba Higuchi of Japan and American Mirai Nagasu.

The men's competition will also see a new world champion with Olympic gold medallist Hanyu -- the defending champion -- withdrawing with an ankle injury along with former two-time winner Javier Fernandez of Spain.

Japan's Shoma Uno will be the favourite to move up from his silver medal last year after finishing runner-up at the Olympics.

American Nathan Chen -- the ISU Grand Prix final champion -- is also a gold medal challenger after a fifth in South Korea despite landing five clean quadruple jumps in the free skating.

China's Jin Boyang, Russia's Dmitri Aliev and Mikhail Kolyada and last year's world junior champion Vincent Zhou of the United States are also podium contenders.

- Savchenko chases record -

In pairs, Germany's Savchenko, who won five world crowns with now-retired Robin Szolkowy, will be chasing a record when she bids for a first world gold with partner Massot starting in Wednesday's short programme and culminating in the free skate on Friday.

Savchenko, who at 34 became the oldest female figure skating champion in Winter Olympic history, can tie Norwegian legend Sonja Henie for the female record of 11 world championships medals.

Savchenko and Massot are the only pairs medallists from Pyeongchang in Milan with their top challengers Russians Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov.

In ice dancing France's Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron are favourites to claim a third world title.

They took silver behind Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir in Pyeongchang after a "nightmare" wardrobe malfunction when Papadakis's costume became unclipped during the short programme.

Virtue and Moir will not be competing with Italy's former world champions Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte challenging at home and Americans Madison Chock and Bevan Bates.