'Finally first' says Uno after figure skate world title as French ice dancers win fifth gold
Japan's Shoma Uno was finally crowned men's world figure skating champion at the sixth attempt in Montpellier on Saturday as French ice dancers Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron won a fifth world crown.
Uno, 24, totalled 312.48 points, a new personal best, to take the title in the absence of the injured stars, compatriot Yuzuru Hanyu and American Nathan Chen.
Chen, a triple world champion who claimed Olympic gold last month in Beijing, is suffering from a "persistent" but unspecified injury. Hanyu, a double Olympic champion and double world champion, has a problem with his right ankle.
"I am finally first," said Uno, who took Olympic silver in 2018 and bronze in February and has twice been a runner up in the world championship.
Uno, who also took Olympic team bronze in Beijing, led after the short programme and landed five quadruple jumps on Saturday as he skated to Ravel's Bolero.
He beat his 18-year-old compatriot Yuma Kagiyama, second in the Olympics, who scored 297.60 points. American Vincent Zhou was third on 277.38.
Teenager Kagiyama has also become accustomed to standing one step below the top of the podium. He won silver at last year's world championships and also at last month's Olympics.
He paid dearly for an attempted triple Axel that turned into a single and an incomplete rotation on one of his quads.
For Zhou, the bronze was redemption. The 21-year-old was forced out of the Olympic men's event following a positive Covid test on the eve of competition. He won a second world championship bronze, after collecting one in 2019.
- World record scores -
Olympic champions Papadakis and Cizeron claimed a fifth world ice dancing title, with world record scores all the way, to add to the gold they won in 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019.
Papadakis, 26, and 27-year-old Cizeron sealed gold after a memorable two days on home ice with a new world record total of 229.82 points.
Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue took silver with 222.39, ahead of fellow Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates, 216.83. The top three couples all train together in Montreal.
"It's one of the best competitions of our career, we felt incredible support, especially after the Olympics," said Cizeron after winning gold in Beijing behind closed doors.
"That's one of the reasons we love what we do so much. The goosebumps, the emotions that come with the noise, it's indescribable," he added.
Performing their free skate to 'Elegie' by Gabriel Faure the French scored 137.09 in the free skate to better their previous world record mark achieved three years ago.
They also achieved world record scores in Friday's rhythm dance section and the overall score.
The five-time European champions overtake French legends Andree and Pierre Brunet, who won four world and two Olympic gold between 1926 and 1932.
They edge closer to the record of six world titles achieved by Lyudmila Pakhomova and Alexandr Gorshkov competing for the Soviet Union between 1970 and 1976.
Russia were barred from competing following the invasion of Ukraine, with Olympic silver medallists Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov unable to defend their world title as a result.