Dundee skater qualifies for free skate in world championships

Dundee figure skater Natasha McKay has qualified for the free skate in the world championships in Japan - after achieving a personal best for her short programme.

McKay has ranked 21st in the short programme for the World Figure Skating Championships in Japan.

McKay, who trains at Dundee Ice Arena with coaching team Debi and Simon Briggs, ranked 21st after the short programme today at the World Figure Skating Championships in Saitama with a score of 56.4. The top 24 skaters qualify to compete in the second part of the competition - the free programme - which takes place on Friday.

Alina Zagitova from Russia is lying in first place after the ladies's short programme with 82.08, followed by Kaori Sakamoto from Japan in second and Elizabet Tursynbaeva from Kazakhstan in third place. The score required to make the top 24 was five points higher than last year due to a high standard of competition.

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McKay, whose short programme was created by internationally renowned choreographer Benoit Richaud, said: "I was delighted with my performance today and felt very comfortable out on the ice. My practice sessions have been going well and to skate clean was my goal and to score a personal best was great."

She added: "I had in my mind when I came to Japan that I could qualify and although the quality of ladies skating today was so high and the qualification score was up by five points from last year, I managed to make it and qualify for the finals."

The three-times British champion has placed 32nd at the world championships for the past two years. She ranked 20th at the European Championships in Minsk, Belarus in January.

Britain's Zoe Jones and Christopher Boyadji from Swindon ranked 17th of 19 skaters after their short programme in the pairs competition, with a score of 52.45. Russia's Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov are currently leading in the pairs competition with a short programme score of 81.21.