Elaine Zayak, a 16-year-old American, came from seventh place with a brilliant display of free skating last night to win the women's title in the World Figure Skating Championships in Copenhagen.

Katarina Witt of East Germany was second and Claudia Kristofics-Binder of Austria third.

Zayak, from Paramus, N.J., appeared to have lost her chance of winning when she fell in the short program Friday and dropped to seventh place overall.

But in the free skating, she did seven triple jumps without faltering. She came off the ice and into the arms of her coach, Peter Burrows, who threw her up in the air as she cried, "I didn't fall, I didn't fall!"

Zayak was given top place in free skating by six of the judges. The other, from East Germany, put his country's Witt first.

Rosalynn Sumners of Edmonds, Wash., the U.S. national champion, finished sixth and Vikki de Vries of Colorado Springs was seventh.

The sellout crowd of 3,500 booed and whistled when Sumners' marks went up on the board. The judges gave her low scores for technique. She commented, "It wasn't my best, but it was clean."