American Nathan Chen bounced beyond the Japanese megastar Yuzuru hanyu for the world figure skating title with a masterful free skating of five quadruple jumps in Stockholm on Saturday.
Chen, undefeated since finishing fifth at the 2018 Olympics, cemented his favorite status for the 2022 Winter Games by overcoming an 8.13 point deficit from Thursday’s short program.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say that this was my best free program, but it’s definitely one I’ll remember forever,” he said. “I was in a position where theoretically I could go back, but realistically I know these guys are going to lie down. [strong programs]. “
They didn’t come close to matching Chen. He scored 320.88 points to win 29.11 over another 17-year-old skater from Japan. Yuma kagiyama, becoming the second man in three shifts as world champion in the past 20 years (after the Canadians Patrick Chan).
A failed Hanyu took bronze, another 2.59 behind, after headlining the short program. It is his lowest result in any competition since November 2014.
The worlds conclude later on Saturday with the free dance.
WORLDS OF FIGURE SKATING: Results | TV, broadcast schedule
Chen, after landing on a Lutz quad to open his short program, began his free skating by nailing the same jump. He then recited four more quads: flip, Salchow, toe loop, and toe loop, all with strong degrees of execution. He set the score to beat, which Hanyu couldn’t sniff out with four quads in his free skating 16 minutes later.
“This is the best thing I’ve ever seen, Nathan Chen,” NBC Sports analyst. Johnny weir said of a man who similarly struggled at the 2018 Olympics with a six-quads free skate to go from 17 to fifth (under different rules that made six quads more feasible).
Hanyu, after an impeccable short program, was wrong on his first three jump passes, placing one hand on a Loop quad, tripping on a Salchow quad and landing low on a triple Axel, and was fourth in free skating.
“It was very tiring, and it was like I was losing my balance one by one, but I tried to make sure I didn’t fall,” Hanyu said, according to the International Skating Union. “In general, I didn’t feel too bad. And in practice, it wasn’t that bad either. But suddenly, upon entering my program, my balance began to unravel. “
He lost all three head-to-head matches with Chen since the 2018 Olympics. None came close: margins of 43.87, 31.7 and 22.45. No man has won three consecutive Olympic titles in 90 years.
Hanyu spoke last year about a lack of motivation to skate. After the bronze, he said he wanted to continue training an Axel quad, which no man has ever landed in competition. It could help him close the gap with Chen.
Kagiyama, the 2020 junior Olympic champion, became the youngest men’s individual medalist since Hanyu in 2012, doing so in his senior world debut. Kagiyama, second after the short program, landed three quads on his free skate.
Kagiyama, trained by his father, an Olympian in 1992 and 1994, continued his rise. He was the 2020 world junior silver medalist and came third at the December Japanese Nationals behind Hanyu and the Olympic silver medalist. Shoma One (which was fourth in worlds).
Chen is only 21 years old, but now he faces rivals who see him as a paper medal.
“I am not at his level yet, but I hope one day to be able to compete alongside him as an equal,” Kagiyama said last March, according to Europeonice.com.
Jason brown, the other American to qualify for the 24-man free skating, was seventh as the first seed without a fully turned quad jump. Brown hit an under-rotated quad to open his free skate and maintained his short program position.
“I gave everything I had,” a smiling Brown, who has skated at the highest international senior level since 2013, told the coach. Tracy wilson while leaving the ice.
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