Japan’s Shoma Uno wins world figure skating championships while American Vincent Zhou takes bronze

Olympic bronze medalist Shoma Uno capped off a dominating performance at the world figure skating championships by winning the gold medal on Saturday, while Vincent Zhou of the United States used a strong free skate to propel from sixth place after his short program to win the bronze medal.

Uno finished with 312.48 points to easily outrun Yuma Kagiyama, who finished second to his Japanese teammate in the short program and free skate. Kagiyama had 297.60 points while Zhou finished with 277.38.

The world championships wrap up later Saturday with the free dance.

It was an emotional and redeeming performance on Saturday for Zhou, 21, who helped the Americans win team silver at the Beijing Games – a medal that could be elevated to gold pending a Russian anti-doping investigation.

Zhou was preparing for the men’s competition when he tested positive for COVID-19, knocking him out of the remainder of his Olympics. He was forced to spend almost two weeks in quarantine before finally being allowed out in time to perform at the expo’s closing gala, then deemed a ‘close contact’ and barred from the ceremony Closing.

“I’m still very upset about the loss of this opportunity at the Olympics,” he said, “but I’m very grateful to still have the chance to compete here at the world championships. And again, I I’m very proud of myself for putting in two good performances.”

His performance on Saturday ended the roller coaster of a season in style.

Before all of Zhou’s troubles in Beijing, the Brown University student picked up victories in the Cranberry Cup and lower-tier Nebelhorn Trophy before finishing second in his NHK Trophy Grand Prix assignment. Next, Zhou edged out Uno and his American teammate Nathan Chen, the Olympic champion, at Skate America.

“I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but as I’ve said many times, I was mentally in a very bad state,” Zhou said. “I couldn’t do anything. But I got on the plane, pulled myself together, took one practice at a time and now I’ve had two good performances, and I’m so proud of myself.”

Chen, the three-time world champion, was unable to defend his title this week. He was taking part in final training before heading to Montpellier, France, when an injury arose last week which forced him to withdraw.

This opened the door for Umo to finally stand on the top step of the podium.

Long overshadowed by Japanese star Yuzuru Hanyu, 24-year-old Umo finished second at the 2017 and 2018 world championships and finished fourth last year. But he was a level above everyone in France, after a personal best in his short program with another personal best for his “Bolero” program in free skating.

“I haven’t won too often, so I’m very happy about that,” Umo said. “I was watching all the performances of the previous bands so I knew very well where I was. All my emotions turned into a smile at the end of my program.”

17-year-old American star Ilia Malinin, who is aiming for the 2026 Olympics in Italy, finished fourth after her short program but struggled with her freestyle. He eventually tumbled all the way to ninth place, but not without showing some of the vast promise that made him Chen’s heir apparent in American figure skating.

“I think it was more pressure on myself, just wanting to skate so well and it didn’t work out,” he said. “I feel like maybe I was a bit too much into the program. It was just a mess, so it’s hard to explain what happened.”