The American Nathan Chen won the Japanese megastar Yuzuru Hanyu for the figure skating world title in Stockholm on Saturday.
Chen, who has been unbeaten since fifth place at the 2018 Olympic Games, consolidated his favorite status at the Winter Games 2022 by overcoming an 8.13 point deficit from Thursday’s short program.
« I wouldn’t necessarily say this was my best free program, but it’s definitely one that I will remember forever and that I like to skate like that, « he said. « I’ve been in a position where I can theoretically come back, but realistically I know these people will set [strong programs]. »
They didn’t get close to Chen. He prevailed with 320.88 points and beat another skater from Japan, 17-year-old Yuma Kagiyama, with 29.11. In the past 20 years, he was the second man with three peat to be world champion (after Canadian Patrick Chan).
Hanyu took bronze, another 2.59 back, after leading the short program. It’s his lowest result in a competition since November 2014.
After Chen fell on a Quad Lutz to open his short program, he started his free skate with the same jump. Then he rattled off four more quads – Flip, Salchow, Toe Loop, and Toe Loop, all of which had strong degrees of execution. He gave out the score to be beaten, which Hanyu couldn’t sniff 16 minutes later with four quads in his free skate. « I think this is the best I’ve ever seen with Nathan Chen, » said Johnny Weir , An analyst at NBC Sports, about a man who also got his way from 17th to fifth (under various conditions) at the 2018 Olympics with a 6-quad free-skate (rules that made six quads more manageable).
After a flawless short program, Hanyu made a mistake on his first three jump passes – he put a hand on a quad loop, stumbled out of a quad salchow and landed low on a triple axel – and came fourth in free skate .
« He truly is a skating legend and someone who just revolutionized the sport, » said Chen. « He didn’t have the skate I think he wanted. »
Since the 2018 Olympics, he has lost all three of his encounters with Chen. None of them got tight with margins of 43.87, 31.7 and 22.45. No man has won three Olympic titles in a row in 90 years.
Hanyu spoke last year about lacking the motivation to skate. After the bronze he said he wanted to continue training a Quad Axel, which no man had yet landed in the competition and could help him close the gap with Chen.
Kagiyama, the 2020 Youth Olympic Champion, became the youngest individual medalist of men in a decade, on his debut in the senior world. Kagiyama, second on the short program, landed three quads in his skate.
Kagiyama, who was trained by his father, an Olympic champion, in 1992 and 1994, continued his ascent. He was the 2020 world junior silver medalist and ranked third among Japanese nationals in December behind Hanyu and Olympic silver medalist Shoma Uno (who finished fourth on the worlds).
Chen is only 21 years old, but he is now faces challengers who see him as a role medal.
« I’m not at his level yet, but I hope that one day I’ll be able to compete with him on an equal footing, » said Kagiyama last year March according to Europeonice.com.
Jason Brown, the other American who qualified for 24-man free skate, finished seventh as the top finisher without a fully rotated quadruple jump. Brown landed an under-turned quad to open his free skate and stayed away from the short program.
« I gave everything I got, » said a smiling Brown, who has been at the highest international level since 2013 skate to trainer Tracy Wilson when he left the ice.
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