Japan’s male figure skaters vying for historic world champion medal sweep
The Japanese men are first, second and third after the short program at the world figure skating championships, seeking the first men’s medal sweep since 1956.
Shoma Uno, who has five silver or bronze medals between the Olympics and world championships, is in line for her first gold before Saturday’s free skate. Uno hit a quad flip and a quad toe-triple toe loop combination for a personal best 109.63 points.
Only Olympic champions Nathan Chen and Yuzuru Hanyuwho miss worlds with injuries, have never scored higher.
Uno is followed by the Olympic silver medalist Yuma Kagiyama and Kazuki Tomonoa veteran who finished fifth in his previous appearance at the world championships in 2018. Japan can become the first nation to sweep the men’s medals since the Americans Hayes Jenkins, Ronnie Robertson and David Jenkins did so at the 1955 and 1956 Worlds, as well as the 1956 Olympics.
Americans Ilia Malinin and Vincent Zhu are fourth and sixth. Everyone tried two quads, like the Japanese.
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Malinin, 17 and the youngest American to compete at the world championships since 1966, hit a quad Lutz and quad toe to break the 100-point barrier with a personal best 18.85 points. He is 0.96 points behind Tomono. Four men have beaten 100 points in the same short program for the second time in history (2018 Olympics), according to SkatingScores.com.
In January, Malinin finished second in his senior national championship debut, but was dropped from the Olympic team three for the more experienced Zhou and Jason Brown.
“I really think that [short program] gave everyone, to show, that I was definitely meant to go to Beijing and I was meant to be there,” said Malinin, who plans four quads in the free skate.
Zhou, who was kicked out of individual Olympic competition due to a positive COVID test, had one of his quads called undershot.
He repeated comments from before the world championships, saying the past few weeks since returning from China have been “absolute hell”, that many days he couldn’t bring himself to put on skates to s training and when he took to the ice he immediately felt crushed, helpless and like a failure.
He couldn’t complete a full program in training last week – “couldn’t even get a good jump” – and nearly gave up two or three days before flying to France.
“Once I made the decision to come, there was a little mental shift,” Zhou said. “Since I’ve been here, I’ve been skating pretty well.
“Just being here is a big win for me.”
The world championships continue later Thursday with the pairs free skating. The Americans finished first and second in the short program, looking to claim the nation’s first couple title since 1979.
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