Montpellier, France – Japan’s Shoma Uno won his first figure skating world championship on Saturday, with compatriot Yuma Kagiyama earning men’s silver for the second straight year.
Uno, who led from the short program, overcame a pair of awkward landings in a free skate that included five quad jumps and earned him a career-best 202.85 points for a 312.48 total at the Sud de France Arena outside Montpellier, France.
Kagiyama totaled 297.60, while Vincent Zhou of the United States was third with 277.38.
After Kaori Sakamoto’s triumph a day earlier in the women’s competition, Japan topped both the men’s and women’s podiums at the worlds for the first time since 2014 when Yuzuru Hanyu and Mao Asada secured titles.
A two-time world silver medalist, Uno wrapped up his season in the best possible way after winning individual and team bronze at last month’s Beijing Olympics.
“I worked very hard to get here. I wanted to put it all together at the end with the short program and free skate, and I’m so happy to actually win,” said Uno.
It has been a long wait for Uno, who secured his first major title in his seventh year in the senior competition having also finished runner-up at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.
The 24-year-old marked the occasion on Saturday by scoring the third-highest points total in the sport’s history, but he was not getting carried away.
“I didn’t get teary while being filled with emotion, which was what I expected. Winning was a pleasing thing, but it wasn’t the goal,” Uno said. “I have a renewed mindset to start again from here.”
After a few early hiccups, Kagiyama, the men’s Olympic silver medalist, delivered a solid performance that got stronger and slicker as he went on.
“I was pretty nervous, and that cost me, but I intend to learn from my mistakes and get stronger,” Kagiyama said.
Neither three-time defending champion and Olympic gold medalist Nathan Chen of the United States, nor Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu, a two-time world champion, competed at this year’s worlds due to injuries.
Kazuki Tomono entered the free skate in third place behind Uno and Kagiyama but struggled with his landings for a 168.25 score that left him off the podium and sixth overall with 269.37.
American Vincent Zhou took the bronze medal with a score of 277.38.
Early in the free skate, emotions ran high as Ukraine’s Ivan Shmuratko received a long standing ovation that even delayed the start of his free skate, although he was not penalized by the judges.
Shmuratko, who ultimately finished last, skated his short program wearing Ukraine’s blue-and-yellow training T-shirt.
Ukraine’s skaters have been taking part in the world championships despite most of them taking days to get out of their country and reach France.
Russian and Belarusian skaters were banned from competing following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Japanese pair of Kana Muramoto and Daisuke Takahashi settled for 16th in ice dance with a points total of 164.25. Beijing gold medalists Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France won the world title for the fifth time, with a world-record score of 229.82.
“It’s the most beautiful competition of our careers, the support has been incredible,” Cizeron said after they enjoyed a warm welcome from the rapturous crowd. “We couldn’t be more grateful.”
Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue finished second ahead of fellow Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates.
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Source: The Japan Times