By Gina Capellazzi and Sean Conlon, Team FSO
Photos by Robin Ritoss
After previously winning two world silver medals, it was finally time for Japan’s Shoma Uno to stand on top of the podium and claim his first world title.
The 2022 Olympic bronze medalist opened his Ravel’s Bolero free skate with quadruple loop and followed it up with a quadruple Salchow, quadruple toe-double toe combination, quadruple flip and two triple Axels. The only mistake came when he underrotated a quadruple toe and singled the flip in combination with the second triple Axel. He earned a 202.85 in the free skate, which was the first time the 24-year-old cracked the 200-points barrier in the free skate. He earned a personal best total score of 312.48 to claim the gold medal.
“This was my last short and free program for this season, so I wanted to have a performance that made my coach Stephane Lambiel proud. I was able to achieve that and I haven’t won too often, so I’m very happy about that,” the 24-year-old said.
For the second consecutive year, Japan’s Yuma Kagiyama claimed the silver medal. The 2022 Olympic silver medalist landed a quadruple Salchow, quadruple toe and a quad toe-Euler-triple toe in his “Gladiator” free skate, but his quadruple loop was downgraded and he popped his planned triple Axel into a single Axel. The 18-year-old scored a 191.91 points in the free skate and finished with a total score of 297.60. This is just Kagiyama’s second Worlds appearance.
“Today it didn’t go as well as at the Olympics. I made some really bad mistakes on the (quad) loop and the Axel,” Kagiyama said following the free skate. “Emotionally I was really nervous and that’s the reason why I couldn’t do so well. The tension was maybe because I had a great opportunity to win and I was trying to put on a perfect performance, so maybe that fed my tension.”
After not being able to compete in the men’s individual event at the 2022 Olympics due to testing positive for COVID, Vincent Zhou was looking to have a happy ending to the 2021-2022 season and claim his second world medal. Zhou’s “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” free skate included a quadruple Lutz, quadruple Salchow and triple Lutz-Euler-triple Salchow, but a few jumps were called underrotated. The 2022 U.S. bronze medalist, who was in sixth after the short program, finished fourth in the free skate with 181.54 points and moved up to third place to claim his second World bronze medal with 277.38 points.
“I feel very, very proud of myself,” the 21-year-old said after the free skate. “A week ago, I wouldn’t have thought any of this was possible. I couldn’t do anything in training leading up to this. I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but as I’ve said a lot of times, I was mentally in a very bad place. I couldn’t do anything. But I got myself on the plane, I got myself together. I took it one practice at a time, and now I’ve put out two strong performances. I’m so proud of myself.”
Finishing just off the podium in fourth place was Georgia’s Morisi Kvitelashvili. Opening his program with a quad Salchow-triple toe combination, the 27-year-old landed two more quads – both of which were quad toes – a triple Axel, and four other triples to earn a personal best free skate score of 179.42 and a personal best total score of 272.03. This marked Kvitelashvili’s highest finish at the World Championships, moving up 10 places from the previous year.
“It was cool – I managed to have a lot of fun from the arena, from my skating,” Kvitelashvili said of his performance. “In general, I’m satisfied with the placement. However, the first part of the short program and a small mistake on the flip in the free have spoiled the overall impression. It wasn’t ideal but I’m glad that I could get myself together to skate and to show what I’m able to do to please the audience. I’d like to thank everyone.”
After being called in to replace teammate Nathan Chen a week before the competition, Team USA’s Camden Pulkinen moved up from 12th place after the short program to third in the free skate after landing two quad toes and two triple Axels in his “Bésame Mucho” performance. Pulkinen, who turned 22 the day before the free skate, finished fifth overall with his highest combined total of 271.69, receiving three personal best scores on his first trip to the World Championships.
“It feels still surreal – I think I’m still processing the fact that I’m actually at Worlds!” he said. “When I skated that program I knew that I was well-trained for it. I’m just very thankful it happened and I was happy I could give myself a nice 22nd birthday gift.”
“It’s my first full clean free skate,” Pulkinen continued. “I still want to progress both technically and artistically, definitely working on other quads for these next four years and hopefully make the [2026 Olympic] team.”
Japan’s Kazuki Tomono, who sat in third place after the short program with 101.12, dropped to eighth place in the free and sixth place overall, receiving a combined total of 269.37.
“This season I had a lot of competitions where I came close to winning a medal,” Tomono said. “The results didn’t follow yet, but this is going to help me for next season. There is still a lot to do, but I fought well through this season.”
Team USA’s Ilia Malinin dropped from fourth in the short program to 11th in the free skate after falling on a downgraded quad Salchow and turning out of a downgraded quad toe. He finished the competition in ninth place.
Check out photos from the men’s event, medal ceremony, and backstage on our 2022 World Championships Photos Hub.