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Yuzuru Hanyu Reclaims World Title with Epic Free Skate

 Front page photo of Yuzuru Hanyu courtesy of Figure Skating Evolution.

The men’s free skate at the World Figure Skating Championships were incredible. History was made as it was the first-time ever that there was an all-Asian men’s podium at worlds. These men brought their best and made their countries proud.

Yuzuru Hanyu Breaks World Record

It seems like Yuzuru Hanyu is the happiest when he is breaking his own world record score and that is just what he did today. Hanyu skated brilliantly landing four quads and six triples. It was an exceptional performance that earned him a grand total of 321.59 points. This score was 3.72 points higher than his previous world record score.

“After the short program I was quite depressed, but I think my fans and my team believe in me so I was able to pull off this performance today,” Hanyu said in an ISU press release. “I demonstrated everything I was capable of for the moment, my whole package so to say. I wanted to do five quads but did not have enough energy. Great to beat my own world record with three points, I think I can get even higher scores. This whole season I have been thinking about breaking the world record, and felt some pressure because of that.”

This is Yuzuru’s second time winning the World Championships. He is now tied with Javier Fernandez with two world titles. Hanyu won the World Championships in 2014, Javier won in 2015 and 2016 and now Hanyu reclaimed his title this year. Hopefully, they will both be back at the World Championships next year to break the tie.

Redemption for Shoma Uno

It was finally Shoma Uno’s turn to get onto the podium. Shoma finished in seventh place last year and he came back this season ready to show that he is one of the best in the world and he did just that. Uno opened with a nice quad loop, continued with a solid quad flip, but than turned out of the landing of the triple lutz. From there he landed five more triples and two more quads, but he turned out of the landing of his quad toe. Without these minor mistakes, he very well could have overtaken Hanyu. Regardless, he earned a total of 319.31 points and finished with the silver medal.

“Yuzuru’s performance was perfect and I made some minor mistakes, so there is some room to catch up,” Shoma Uno said. “But this was one of the best I’ve ever done, so I’m quite happy about it. In the last World Championship I failed and I didn’t want it to happen again. Everything I’ve been going through since the 2016 Worlds brought me to this competition. The effort paid off and I’m happy to finish this season in a best way. I can’t ask for anything more.”

Boyang Repeats as Bronze Medalist

For the second consecutive year, China’s Boyang Jin captured the bronze medal. Jin gave the best free skate performance that we have seen from him all season. He landed four quads and six triples and filled his program with a lot of charisma and personality. Boyang may not have the most appealing style, but he has come a long way.

“I feel very satisfied with my performance here,” Jin said. “I don’t think too much about the medals, but I just want to focus on my program and make it perfect, and I did it today. Whether I get a medal or not I was quite happy.”

Minor Mistakes Added Up

In a field this talented and well trained, programs with several minor errors did not hold up. Javier Fernandez started out strong, landing a solid quad toe, quad salchow-triple toe and triple axel-double toe. That is where his program took a turn and he fell on his second quad salchow. The mistakes continued coming after that. It was not a terrible performance by any means, but it was not enough to get him onto the podium. He finished in fourth place with a total score of 301.19 points.

Patrick Chan delivered a beautiful performance. He landed his opening quad toe-triple toe brilliantly, and landed a solid quad salchow. He than put his hand down on the triple axel and stepped out of his second quad toe. Even though Chan did not medal, this was a successful competition for him. He gave two solid performances and finished in fifth place, which oddly enough was his placement in 2016 as well.

The U.S. Acquire Three Spots for the Olympics

Nathan Chen attempted six quads in his free skate. He landed four of them and fell on the other two. Rumor has it that he has struggled with some boot problems during this competition that could’ve contributed to his performance. Either way it was a solid World Championships debut for him. This competition not only gave him some much needed experience with nerves and pressure, but it will also motivate him for next season. Nathan fought for each element and finished in sixth place with a score of 290.72.

“I planned this program because I’m a strong technical skater and that’s something that has been working for me this season,” Nathan said in a U.S. Figure Skating press release. “I threw in that extra quad but it didn’t really play out how I wanted it to…It’s a good step for me. I feel sorry for some [of the mistakes that I had], but it’s a good step. Whatever happened, happened, and I just have to put it behind me.”

Jason Brown also skated extremely well and finished right behind Nathan in seventh place. Brown fell on his opening quad toe, but continued to skate well for the rest of his program. Between Nathan and Jason’s placement, they earned three Olympic berths for the U.S. men. The U.S. has not had three spots for men’s figure skating at the Olympics since 2010.

“There was a lot on my plate this week,” Jason said. “I really wanted to do the best that I could for the U.S. team. I’m glad that Nathan and I were able to get three spots for the U.S. men heading into the Olympics. That was really, really a goal of mine. I wanted to do everything I could so that when I left the ice, I felt like I gave it my all to reach that goal.”

The heights that these men have taken the sport are just incredible. One of the best things about men’s figure skating right now is that though there are clearly the top men, there is not just one dominant man that is going undefeated. There are several men who take turns at the top and they seem to push each other and the sport to the next level. Hopefully this momentum in men’s figure skating will spill over into the Olympic season, so that the entire world will get to see what these men are capable of.

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