Defending champion and Olympic gold medalist Alexei Yagudin had to skip Worlds due to his continuing hip injury, but fellow Russian Evgeni Plushenko was back after a year’s absence. Although bothered by a knee injury, Plushenko was still able to win his second World championship, but the USA’s Tim Goebel made him fight for the victory.
In the qualifiers, Plushenko landed a quad toe/triple toe/triple loop combination, the first time the feat had been accomplished at Worlds. He added a triple Axel/triple toe and five additional triples in his program to “Carmen” to take one group. Plushenko also attained another first, his first 6.0 for presentation in qualifying. Goebel, skating to Gershwin’s “An American in Paris,” was second after landing a quad salchow/triple toe, a quad toe loop, and five more triples. Switzerland’s Stéphane Lambiel was third, skating without an error to “Chocolat“. He landed a quad toe/triple toe and triple flip/triple toe combinations and five more triples. “That was the best I’ve ever done, even in practice,” Lambiel stated. “I never did the quad-triple and the triple Axel both in one program.” China’s Chengjiang Li finished fourth skating to “Star Wars,” followed by Canada’s Emanuel Sandhu. Belgium’s Kevin van der Perren also made history by landing a triple salchow/triple toe loop/triple loop, a first in ISU competition.
Local favorite Michael Weiss won the other qualifying group. Weiss, who lives in the Washington suburbs, landed a triple Axel/triple toe loop combination and four other triples, but two-footed both quad toe loop attempts in his Latin-themed program. Weiss used “Malaguena” and “Concerto de Aranjuez.” Weiss sprained an ankle before Worlds, which prevented him from trying the lutz. Japan’s Takeshi Honda was second, skating strongly to “River Dance“. He completed a quad toe/triple toe combination and three more triples but missed on two other quad attempts. Honda was also nursing a sprained ankle that had caused him to skip the Grand Prix Final. The USA’s Ryan Jahnke was a surprise third, skating appropriately enough to Prokofiev’s “Cinderella“. Jahnke did not attempt a quad, but landed seven triples including a triple flip/triple loop combination. Fourth went to Russia’s Ilia Klimkin, followed by China’s Min Zhang, who landed two quads.
In the short program, Plushenko completed a quad toe/triple toe combination and a triple lutz, but had to fight to save his triple Axel in his program to Albioni’s “Adagio“. Goebel again came in second, completing the same jumps as Plushenko except for using a quad salchow/triple toe loop in his program to Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet.” Honda took third using his “Leyenda” program, after managing only a double toe loop after his quad toe in the combination. Chengjiang Li finished fourth with his kung fu program. Weiss hung on to fifth place with his Van Halen and Metallica medley after falling on the triple lutz and just holding on to a quad toe/triple toe combination. Jahnke, skating to “La Strada” finished ninth with a triple lutz/triple toe combination and a triple flip. France’s Brian Joubert made the biggest jump, from 18th after the qualifiers to sixth by landing a quad toe/triple toe combination. Meanwhile, Klimkin dropped to 13th, Lambiel fell to 16th, and Zhang plummeted to 18th
In the free skate, Plushenko again out pointed Goebel. Using “St. Petersburg 300,” Plushenko completed a quad toe/triple toe/double toe, two triple Axels and four more triples but tow-footed a second quad toe loop. “It’s nice to win the second time,” he said. Goebel landed a quad salchow/triple toe loop, a quad toe, a triple Axel/triple toe and three more triples but put a hand down on the triple loop. “I’m happy,” Goebel said. “This year has been very hard for me.” Honda was third after completing a quad toe loop, triple Axel/triple toe and three more triples but he missed a quad toe and a triple lutz. Chengjiang Li landed a quad toe/triple toe and a quad salchow to finish fourth, China’s highest placement ever in men’s at Worlds. “I completed the first three most difficult elements,” he said. “I was very, very excited. Maybe too excited so that I missed the triple lutz.” Weiss missed both quad attempts to finish fifth, while Joubert delivered another strong skate after his disastrous qualifier to finish sixth overall. Jahnke made several mistakes and dropped to 18th, finishing 13th overall.