American Nathan Chen landed five quadruple jumps in the men’s free skate on Saturday to overhaul faltering Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu and collect a third consecutive world title.
Chen, who started the day in third, was impeccable in his routine, scoring 222.03 for a total of 320.88 to apply pressure to the Japanese pair, 17-year-old Kagiyama Yuma and Hanyu, who followed.
Kagiyama scored a personal best of 190.81 for 291.77, but last man Hanyu put his hand on the ice at the end of his first two jumps and scored 182.20 for a total of 289.18.
Chen added to his 2018 and 2019 world titles. The 2020 event in Montreal was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s amazing, the fact I’m able to be here at this world championships after this unprecedented year, it’s amazing. I’m elated right now,” Chen said on the ice at the victory ceremony.
Chen needed to make up eight points on Hanyu who was skating last, and opted for a routine that included a daunting five quads.
“I just tried to remind myself to enjoy being here,” Chen said. “I don’t know how many more world championships I’ll be able to compete at, so just every single one that I can be at just to embrace this moment.
“I’m very lucky to be here and I remind myself that and in doing that I’m able to be a lot more calm.”
Chen landed all his quads with elegant athleticism, starting with a Lutz and following that with a flip, a Salchow and two toe loops.
Chasing Chen’s huge score, Hanyu, the double Olympic champion, wobbled several times to slide to third.
Kagiyama, skating to the “Avatar” soundtrack, succeeded with a quad Salchow, quad toe-triple toe and quad toe as well as four more strong triples.
He only stumbled on a triple Axel and triple loop.
“I wanted to make sure I landed on the podium. That’s what I’ve trained for,” said Kagiyama, making his debut at the worlds.
For Hanyu, it was back to training to iron out the problems in his performance.
“It was very exhausting and it was like I was losing my balance,” said the Olympic champion.
“I realised that there were a lot of jumps one after another that were not clean.
He added: “I don’t know when the next competition might be, but I just want to go back to practice, to train on my quad Axel and continue to work to land it.”
In ice dancing, Russia’s Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov claimed the title, filling the vacuum caused by the absence of four-time winners Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron.
European champions Sinitsina and Katsalapov won with a score of 221.17 points.
America’s Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue (214.71) were second with Canada’s Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier (214.35) filling out the podium.
French stars Papadakis and Cizeron opted to skip the tournament to focus on preparing for the Winter Olympics in Beijing next year.