Japan Goes One-Two in the Men’s Event at Worlds


Hanyu finally skates his long program clean to win second title; Uno is almost as good winning silver; Jin repeats as bronze medalist.

As in the ladies event, the men’s event at the 2017 World Figure Skating Championships in Helsinki had three very well-skating medalists. It also had a few skaters who disappointed, though it at least avoided the catastrophic meltdowns seen in the ladies. The results were ultimately an Asian triumph, with the continent sweeping the men’s podium at Worlds for the first time. It was also the second time Japan won both gold and silver, the first time off home ice.

Hanyu Comes from Behind When Fernandez Falters

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Although he had a single world and Olympic title to his name, more often than not Yuzuru Hanyu has struggled at the season’s biggest events. He did so in the short program. After taking long enough to get into starting position he got docked a point, he landed a quadruple loop jump, but put his foot down on a quad salchow, which got the second jump of his combination discounted. Meanwhile, Spanish training mate Javier Fernandez electrified the arena with his short. His quad-triple combination might have only been toe loops, and his solo quad a salchow, but he did them brilliantly. He nearly broke 110. It looked like he was going to take his third title in a row.

But Hanyu did something everyone had been crossing their fingers for the entire season: he skated his long program clean. He combined four quads, including the loop and the salchow with a triple toe, with his beautiful skating and artistry. It was the best long program he’d ever done, and he broke his own world record in the score. He wasn’t far off his overall world record. Even though he opened the final group and was ten points back, it was immediately doubtful anyone could beat him.

In the end, Fernandez blew it anyway. He started well enough, maxing out the score of his opening quad toe. But he struggled with his quad salchow combo. Then in the second half, he fell on a solo quad salchow, and made a couple other mistakes, including a painful doubled flip. Ultimately it was a sixth place free skate, and he missed the podium by a couple of points. Hanyu was left to claim his second title.

Young Uno and Jin Win Silver and Bronze

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Shoma Uno left the ice at last year’s Worlds in tears, having lost a chance at medaling. This year, he started out with a strong short, where he combined a flip with a quad toe-triple toe for good results. Then he followed it up with an excellent free skate. Not a perfect one; he fell on a lutz and turned out of a quad toe. But he landed four more quads: a loop, a flip, and another toe in combination. And while he might not have the artistry of a Hanyu, he’s getting to not be too far off, nearly tying Fernandez in presentation. He broke 200 in the free and 300 overall for the first time, and won silver.

Boyang Jin ended up also breaking those barriers for the first time to win bronze for the second Worlds in a row. Though he had a hold on to a couple of jumps, ultimately he skated two clean programs. His short had a quad lutz-triple toe and a quad toe. Like Uno, he did went for quad toes both solo and in combination. His other two quads with the lutz and the salchow. Since this was slightly easier he actually was lower than Uno technically, and he’s still working on having presentation scores comparable to the other top skaters. He continues to improve though, delighting the audience with both his programs. Still the Chinese federation might have wished he’d finished one place higher to get them three men’s spots for next year’s Olympics.

Canada Fails to Gain Third Berth as Chan Places Fifth

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Canada, too, was left to wish either of their two men had finished just one place higher. But there wasn’t much more Patrick Chan could’ve done in the short. It was one of the most beautiful performances of the evening. But it had only a quad toe-triple toe, which put him at a disadvantage. He went into the free armed only with two quad toes and a quad salchow. Then, while he landed the first two with a triple and the salchow, he stumbled badly on the third quad. When he’d also struggled on a sequence and failed to get credit for its second jump, the beauty of the rest of the program wasn’t enough for more than fifth.

Kevin Reynolds had disadvantages both technically and artistically. He once racked up points with quads before it was cool, but now he doesn’t have a quad harder than the salchow. His short had that with the triple toe and a solo quad toe, but didn’t have the goods for higher than twelfth. He fought back from that with an eighth-place free, where he went for two of each quad, and landed three of them, including another quad-triple. But he underrotated the salchow in combination, plus two of his triples as he struggled late. He did enough to get up to ninth, but Canada still just missed getting three berths.

U.S. Narrowly Gains Third Berth as Chen Places Sixth

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Nathan Chen might have been the most disappointed man in the top six. In his short, he pulled off his usual quad lutz-triple toe and quad flip, only to fall on his triple axel. His response to that was to up his ante even further than he has already, trying a truly crazy six quad jumps! He did manage to land two quad flips. He got through his quad toes with a turnout on the solo and a step down out of his quad triple. But he also fell on the quads lutz and salchow. His tariff was still much higher than everyone else’s and he was actually fourth in the segment, but he failed to move up from sixth.

Right behind him, countryman Jason Brown had a far less wild time on his way to seventh, just high enough to get the U.S. three men’s berths back in time for the Olympics. He had a wonderful short program, where he attempted no quads, making up for it by being so good at everything else. He even maxed out the value of one of his spins. Brown did go for a quad in his long, which he underrotated and fell on. His perfection was a little weaker in that program overall, especially after he doubled a loop late. Naturally he was pretty far behind the top six. But he still scored far higher than anyone else without quads would’ve had any business scoring.

Russian Skaters Struggle, Fail to Even Contend for Three

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Russia would’ve liked to have had three berths in all four disciplines, especially given how good they are at everything. But their two men simply weren’t up to it. Even when Mikhail Kolyada skated a good short, he had only a quad toe-triple toe, and he didn’t have the kind of artistry to make up for that as Chan did. In the free he went for the quad lutz and fell on it, landing only the quad toe. When he also singled an axel and doubled another jump, he was lucky to hold onto eighth.

Maxim Kovtun went for more quads, though nothing harder than a salchow. Unfortunately, that worked out even less for him. First, in the short program, after fighting through a quad salchow-triple toe, he fell on his solo quad. In the long program, while he managed a quad salchow both solo and with a double toe, he doubled his quad toe attempt. That had consequences later on, after he’d also doubled a loop, when he did a planned triple-double combination, except the double was an illegal third double toe and didn’t count. He was even luckier to hold on to eleventh.

Bychenko Takes Advantage of Others’ Struggles to Make Top Ten

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Of the other countries trying to get two berths, Israel may have wanted it most, since they were the country with two skaters worthy of the Olympics. Happily, Alexei Bychenko got them by finishing tenth by the skin of his teeth. He landed a solo quad toe in each program. He tried to land it in combination in his long too, but singled the second jump. His skating was otherwise decent, though his long also had a couple more stumbles.

He benefited from the struggles of a handful of other skaters who might have otherwise made the top ten. Denis Ten had the biggest disappointment, falling from ninth to sixteenth with a miserable twentieth-place free program. While Japan’s other men triumphed, Keiji Tanaka struggled in his debut. His triple axel in his short program was in only cleaning jumping pass there, then he suffered disaster on both axels in the free. He did land two quad salchows in a much cleaner free, but didn’t do enough to finish higher than nineteenth.

Finishing just ahead of him was Michel Brezina. He tried no quads in the short, which wasn’t clean. He landed the quad salchow in his free, which started well, but he fell apart at its end. Backstage, he said he might even retire immediately, although that was before he could be sure he had nonetheless won the Czech Republic a single Olympic berth, which will almost certainly be his if he wants it.

Final Distribution of Olympic Berths

As in the ladies, twenty-six of the thirty Olympic berths went out here:

Three: Japan, United States

Two: China, Spain, Canada, Russia, Israel

One: Uzbekistan, Georgia, Latvia, Australia, Kazakhstan, France, Czech Republic, Germany

Next: O Canada! Medvedeva Joined on World Podium by Pair of Surprises

If Brezina does retire, there will be plenty of Czech men who’ll vie to take his place. On the other hand, there is one other possible retirement that could bring the number of berths available at the Nebelhorn Trophy up to seven. Before he skated, Misha Ge, who earned Uzbekistan’s berth, indicated he too might retire. If he does, Uzbekistan might not be able to replace him, and might have to give their berth up.