March 26, 2022
MONTPELLIER, France (Reuters) – Japan’s Shoma Uno claimed his first major title when he secured the gold medal in the men’s single event at the world championships on Saturday, making the most of the absence of two top-ranked international skaters.
With two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu and Beijing gold medallist Nathan Chen skipping the event through injuries, Yuma Kagiyama, runner-up at the last Olympics, was among the top two favourites alongside compatriot Uno.
The 18-year-old Kagiyama failed to impress, however, and seemed to know it as he left the ice with a wry smile on his face.
He scored 191.91 on his free skate for a total of 297.60 after failing to properly land his quadruple loop.
That was well below his Olympics score of 310.05 and certainly not enough to prevent Uno, who was leading after the short programme, from prevailing.
Uno did not disappoint and his performance, although not flawless, left his coach Stephane Lambiel raising his arms in celebration.
He scored 202.85 for a total of 312.38 after posting new personal bests in both the short programme and the free skate.
“I’m very happy, I worked hard for this. And for once I finish first. I’m very satisfied and I want to thank my coach for this,” said Uno after delighting the Montpellier crowd with a routine set to Maurice Ravel’s Bolero, a popular choice in figure skating.
American Vincent Zhou took the bronze medal with a score of 277.38.
Emotions ran high as Ukraine’s Ivan Shmuratko received a long standing ovation that even delayed the start of his free skate, although he was not penalised by the judges.
Shmuratko, who ultimately finished last, had skated his short programme wearing Ukraine’s blue and yellow training T-shirt.
Ukraine’s skaters have been taking part in the world championships despite most of them taking days to get out of their country to make it to France.
Russian and Belarusian skaters were banned from competing following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Hugh Lawson)