The 15-year-old broke the record by receiving an incredible 82.92 points from the judges, after team-mate Evgenia Medvedeva had set a new top score earlier in the day.
Evgenia Medvedeva, three years her senior and the favourite for gold, had set a world record of her own of 81.61 only to be trumped by her fellow Russian’s score of 82.92.
After the performance, Zagitova described the pair as “friends first and rivals second”, while both admitted to being a bundle of nerves on the ice.
Speaking via a translator, the 15-year-old said: "I'm happy to have a clean skate and really grateful to myself for that.”
"I don't think it was my best, I can be better. My next goal is to of course have a clean free skate."
Zagitova leads the scoring heading into Friday’s final, and should she be triumphant, she will be the second youngest after the USA’s Tara Lipinski topped the podium in Nagano in 1998.
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