By Gina Capellazzi, website administrator
MILAN, ITALY — Two-time U.S. Champion and 2018 Olympic bronze medalist Nathan Chen won his first World Championships title in commanding fashion Saturday. The 18-year-old became the first American man to win the title and any World medal since 2010 Olympic Champion Evan Lysacek took home gold in 2009.
Skating last in the free skate after some disastrous skates from the top six skaters, Chen executed six quadruple jumps, landing five of them. He opened his “Mao’s Last Dancer” program with a quad Lutz and followed it up with a quad flip-double toe, quad flip, quad toe and quad toe-triple toe as well as landed both his triple Axels. His only mistake was stepping out of his quadruple salchow. Chen set a new ISU personal best free skate score of 219.46 and a ISU personal best total score of 321.40 to win by almost 50 points.
“It’s just a dream come true, it’s something I have wanted to achieve my whole career and I’m just so glad I was able to do it,” Chen said about winning.
Newly crowned Olympic silver medalist Shoma Uno, of Japan, pulled up from fifth place to repeat as World silver medalist. Dealing with an ankle injury, Uno struggled with his quadruple jumps, falling on his quad loop, quad flip and quad toe. He did manage to land a quad toe-double toe combination, a triple Axel, triple Axel-single loop-triple flip combination and three more triples. Uno scored a 179.51 in the free skate and a total score of 273.77 to win the silver medal.
“My foot felt better than yesterday. It was hard to bring it in a good condition. I did mistakes in the beginning, but I am satisfied that I finished the free skate like this. In my recent practices, my quad loops and flips were rather rough but still I decided to go for them and I didn’t do so well but I came back in the end of the program really nicely, so I am satisfied with my result today,” Uno told the media.
Uno was the only Olympic men’s individual medalist to compete at the World Championships. Two-time Olympic gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu and Olympic bronze medalist Javier Fernandez opted not to compete. Uno’s country mate, Kazuki Tomono, helped Japan keep three spots for next year’s World Championships, by finishing third in the free skate to move up from 11th place to finish in fifth place in his Worlds debut.
Russia’s Mikhail Kolyada won his first World medal, taking home the bronze in Milan. The two-time European bronze medalist’s program featured a quadruple toe loop, two triple Axels as well as two more triples, but he fell on the quad Lutz and his second quad toe. The 23-year-old earned 172.24 points and finished fourth in the free skating, but finished third overall with 272.32 points.
“I am happy with the short program, but in the free obviously I made mistakes. But I enjoyed performing my program, the presentation,” Kolyada commented.
Israel’s Alexei Bychenko had his career best result at the World Championships, pulling up from seventh in the short program to finish fourth overall.
“This season was hard, there was a lot of stress, a lot of preparation, and what I did today is not exactly what I expected but anyway I fought for every element. Anyway, I am very glad with my result. Each season I try to beat my previous result and I am really proud of myself and my team,” Bychenko shared.
2017 World Junior Champion and 2018 Olympian Vincent Zhou dropped from third place in the short program to finish 14th overall after some costly mistakes in his free skate.
“This week has been extremely difficult for me,” Zhou said. “Two days before I left for Worlds, I started having back pain and I was struggling with that this week. My practices have been horrible, but I was able to do well in the short program because I have a great medical team here working on me. I’m not using my back as an excuse but I haven’t had the proper muscle memory this week. The last time I skated a clean long was before I left. It’s no excuse for today. I think I was just tired. I think I should have taken yesterday to rest a little more but it’s my first Worlds and my first international season as a senior. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished this season.”
2013 U.S. Champion Max Aaron finished in 11th place. Aaron’s placement, along with Chen’s, were enough to help Team USA men retain three spots for next year’s World Championships.
“I’m just so happy to be here and help support Team USA,” Aaron said. “I’m happy I got to do my job to the best of my ability and just help support [Nathan and Vincent].”
Two-time World bronze medalist Boyang Jin, of China, struggled in his free skate, falling on five jumping passes, to drop from 4th place to 19th place overall.
In the ladies’ event, 2018 Olympic bronze medalist Kaetlyn Osmond, of Canada, won the gold medal, the first World title in the ladies event for Canada since 1973. Japan’s Wakaba Higuchi and Sakoto Miyahara won silver and bronze respectively. Reigning Olympic champion Alina Zagitova struggled in her free skate to finish in fifth, ending her undefeated season.
Olympic champions Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot won the pairs’ title.
For results on the ice dance competition, check out www.ice-dance.com.