2023 World Figure Skating Championships
Men’s Free Skate
Japan’s Shoma Uno skated to his second consecutive gold at the 2023 World Figure Skating Championships in Saitama on Saturday. Junhwan Cha claimed the silver, becoming the first man from South Korea to win a world medal of any color, while USA’s Ilia Malinin pocketed the bronze.
Uno opened his classical routine with a beautiful quad loop, but underrotated and stepped out of the quad Salchow. He recovered to land a very good quad flip, and triple Axel. The two-time Olympic medalist also landed two solid triple Axels, but the quad toe and quad toe-single toe were a quarter underrotated. He received level four on all spins and footwork, and earned many high grades of execution (GOE) throughout, especially on the loop and flip. He scored 196.51 for first place in the free skate, easily maintaining first place overall with a total score of 301.14.
“Today’s performance was far from perfect, but I put out everything I can do at this moment,” said Uno. “There were many shaky jumps today, but I’m happy I was able to get a good result despite not being in a good condition these past two weeks. I know I caused a lot of concerns to everyone around me, but I was able to pay them back and show my gratitude with my performance today. I know that so many people who’ve supported me, and without any of their support, not one piece missing, I couldn’t have pulled off today’s performance. So I am grateful for every one of those who supported me.”
Uno pointed out that he usually doesn’t do well in international competition held in his country.
“This is the very first time I was able to get a good result, so I am very happy about that,” said the 25-year-old. “Coming into this competition, I thought about a lot of things, including the road ahead from here on. I don’t know what kind of figure skating I will be doing, but I know this will pave the way for the future.”
Cha gave an effortless routine to popular James Bond music, landing a perfect quad Salchow and quad toe. The 2022 Four Continents champion also executed seven triple jumps, with only the flip receiving edge call. All spins and footwork were graded a level four, and he picked up many GOEs throughout his routine. The skater from Seoul earned a new personal best of 196.39 for second in the free skate and overall (296.03).
“It was amazing and I really enjoyed it and I was really focused on skating,” said Cha of his performance. “I just wanted to do what I trained today, and I think it came out, so I’m very happy about that.”
“It’s an honor to be the first male skater as a Korean skater to get a (World) medal,” he added. “Such an honor, and I’m really honored.”
Malinin became the first man to land a quad Axel at world championship on Saturday. The 2022 World Junior champion slightly underrotated the quad flip and quad Lutz, but then landed a perfect quad Salchow, and later, a quad toe-triple toe. While he underrotated the first jump in a quad Lutz-Euler-triple Salchow, two spins and the footwork were graded a level four. He pioked up 188.06 points for third place in the free skate, and a new personal-best total score of 288.44 for third overall.
“I’m just very shocked about how I progressed through this whole season,” noted the 18-year-old. “I’m just very impressed with myself and of all the work I have put into this.”
Malinin was also impressed with how he was able to pull off a good free skate.
“I was just not expecting that, but I think that I just could be very proud of myself for working a lot through these last couple of weeks,” he said. “I’m just very grateful that I delivered.”
France’s Kevin Aymoz gave a compelling routine to music from the Gladiator, landing a quad toe and a total of eight triple jumps. The only small glitch was an edge call on the front end of a triple flip-Euler-triple Salchow. All spins and footwork were graded a level four, and the 2022 Grand Prix Espoo bronze medalist picked up many GOEs along the way. He scored 187.41—a new personal best—for a fourth-place free skate, and moved up to fourth place overall (282.97).
Aymoz was was overcome with emotion.
“I’m sorry, I don’t know it’s… I want to come back again,” he managed to say. “Inside is so fresh right now, I’m sorry. I’m so happy! So happy that I have no words!”
figure skating so much.
USA’s Jason Brown demonstrated skating in it’s purest form in his routine “The Impossible Dream,” spell-binding the crowd from start to finish. The 2020 Four Continents silver medalist was solid, landing eight perfect triple jumps, including two triple Axels and two triple flips. All spins were graded a level four with high GOEs, as did the level-three footwork. He picked up a new personal best of 185.87 points for fifth in the free skate, rising one spot to fifth overall (280.04).
“I’m so happy about today’s performance!” said Brown. “I did the best I could to just stay in the moment, stay grounded, and go out there and skate my skate. And that’s what I did. I just soaked in the energy of this arena and the people here. It’s been so special!”
Brown said he has had the best time in Japan, where he’s been training the past three weeks.
“It was like home,” he said. “And so I’m just so happy to be out there, just happy to be at the World Championships. I didn’t think at the beginning of the year that I even would be competing this year, so I’m really touched to be here.”
Brown will be appearing at Stars on Ice in Osaka next week, but is unsure of his plans for next season.
“I’m going to talk to my coaches,” he said. “But last year, I went in after the Olympics and I really felt that I got re-energized by doing so many shows in the summer. I was excited to get back out and compete and that’s what I did. It’s such an awesome year and I got the best time. I still want to keep going a little longer, but we’ll see. I won’t make promises.”
Japan’s Kazuki Tomono rose up one spot from seventh to sixth overall (273.41). The 2022 Four Continents silver medalist landed a quad toe-double toe, quad Salchow, and five triple jumps. The only major error came when he went down on a quad toe. He also put a foot down on the landing of a triple Axel, and the back end of a triple Axel-Euler-triple Salchow was a quarter underrotated. However, he showed good spins and footwork throughout, earning a new personal best of 180.73 for sixth in the free skate.
“I was ridiculously nervous,” said the Japanese bronze medalist. “I thought it was over. However, practice helped me, and at the World Championships, it was the best finish I’ve ever done. But I felt the Worlds in Japan was difficult. In the midst of a lot of tension, I made mistakes in my movements and the timing of the music. But I made it through. I made full use of my strengths.”
Keegan Messing of Canada skated his last competitive routine in what was an emotion moment for him. The 2023 Four Continents silver medalist landed a quad toe-double toe and quad toe. He popped a triple Axel (in combination with a triple Salchow) and received an edge call on a triple flip, but the rest of his jumps were clean. The skater received no value for a flying sit spin, but earned a level four on the other two spins and level two for the steps. He finished 11th (166.41) in the free skate, and slipped from fourth to seventh overall (265.16 ).
“The jump for the death-drop was too big and I overrotated and I just couldn’t save it,” he explained of the flying sit spin. “I was like ‘oh no, oh no, not here not here’ in my head, but I just really put that much more emphasis on the second half of the program to really bend my knees and take my time.”
“I’m a little disappointed with the center section,” he added, but you know what, it’s my final Worlds. For the most part, I kept my performance strong. That’s my biggest goal for this year, was to skate and hold the performance to its highest potential. I felt like I did that tonight. I did feel the pressure a little bit, but I erased my mind from the mistakes, and I put my best foot forward.”
Keegan was “amazed” with the crowd and felt it was the perfect stadium to “go out on.”
“I can’t keep going,” said the 31-year-old. “My body hurts too much. I would love to but, 28 years is long enough for me.”
Rounding out the top 10