Flawless free skate powers Nathan Chen to gold over Yuzuru Hanyu at worlds

Olympic silver medallists Papadakis, Cizeron glide to ice dance victory

The Associated Press · Posted: Mar 23, 2019 9:14 AM ET | Last Updated: an hour ago

Defending champion Nathan Chen produced a spectacular free skate on Saturday to win the gold medal at the figure skating world championships while Canada’s Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje finished fifth in the ice dance.

First after the short program, the 19-year-old Chen made no mistakes and landed four quadruple jumps to finish with 323.42 points. Chen opened with a quad lutz and followed with a quad flip.

The U.S. national champion then added two quad toeloops, one in combination, to solidify his lead.

“I’m proud of myself for being able to put out two good programs, the short and the long,” Chen said. “Ultimately, I’m just happy with how this event went and I hope to have more experiences like this.”

Two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu also had a strong free skate with four quads but couldn’t erase a 12.53-point deficit and finished second with 300.97.

American Vincent Zhou was third with 281.16 points.

Canada’s Keegan Messing and Nam Nguyen finished 15th and 16th with 237.64 and 237.27 points, respectively.

“I lost my head out there,” said Messing. ”The mistakes came from not thinking properly. That’s why it hurts a little bit.”

Nguyen also struggled.

”The axels kind of got away from me,” said Nguyen. ”It was kind of weird because they had been solid for me in practice. But other than that I felt good about the performance.”

Hanyu came back from a right ankle ligament injury in November. He was similarly injured in 2017 and returned at last year’s Pyeongchang Olympics, where he became the first male figure skater to win consecutive Olympic golds since Dick Button in 1948 and 1952.

“I lost, that is about it,” Hanyu said. “I think I did my best, but the problem is that in figure skating competition consists of two days, and I am losing in both. It means that I simply do not have enough strength to win.”

Olympic silver medallist Shoma Uno, the 2018 world championship silver medallist, was fourth.

French duo retains ice dance crown

Earlier, defending champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France won the free dance to win gold in the ice dance.

Papadakis and Cizeron, first after the rhythm dance, received 134.23 points for their free dance for a total of 222.65 and their fourth ice dance world title.

Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia were second with 211.76 points followed by Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue of the United States who moved up from fourth place to finish third with 210.40.

Canadian duo Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje snagged fifth place with a total score of 205.62 points after putting down a consistent rhythm dance and free skate.

The fifth-place finish represented Canada’s top result of the tournament.

”We felt so free and calm and that’s exactly the place we wanted to perform this program in,” said Weaver. ”This program is more than about the levels and the score.”

Still, the Canadians were less than five points from the podium. Weaver and Poje, from Waterloo, Ont., skated to a piece from the Quebec rock opera “Starmania” in honour of the late Dennis Ten of Kazakhstan. The 2014 Olympic bronze medallist was murdered in a robbery last summer.

”We’ve been in the top-five for a long time,” said Poje. ”And it feels like just finding those little details, those little extra special things that make you unique and try and bring those out in the performances.”

Meanwhile, Canada’s Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier improved to seventh with their free, finishing at 200.92 points, while Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen maintained 10th with a total score of 188.10.

The latter duo was pleased with its first-ever appearance at worlds.

”It was amazing to skate this program,” said Sorensen. ”We felt good. Everything we’ve been working on came together quite well and it’s nice to do a clean skate you can be proud of.”

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