Figure Skating

Figure Skating World Championships 2019: As it happened - Thursday

Olympic Channel were on site at #WorldFigure in Saitama as Nathan Chen won the men's short program.

By ZK Goh and Scott Bregman ·

All times are Japan Standard Time (GMT+9).

CLICK HERE for Friday's live blog.

10:13 pm – That's a wrap for today

That's a wrap for today, thanks for joining us! We're now halfway through competition at the Worlds.

Don't forget to rejoin us tomorrow, when we'll have updates from the end of the ice dance rhythm dance, as well as the ladies' free program. Will Alina Zagitova clinch the title?

We leave you with this photo from rink-side. What happens to the Pooh toys when all the fans have left?

Winnie the Pooh toys are bagged up after the men's short program

10:00 pm – Winnie the Pooh

Chen is asked about having to skate after Hanyu. His answer draws a laugh from the assembled journalists.

"It's not the first time I've skated after him. The raining of the Pooh bears is a pretty amazing sight to see!"

Pooh bear toys rain down on the ice after Yuzuru Hanyu's short program in Saitama

9:53 pm – Chen not reflecting on last year's success

Overall leader Nathan Chen says last year's win for him at Worlds was irrelevant in the build-up to this year's championships.

"I like to tell myself that everything I've done in the past, whether good or bad, stays in the past. And so coming into these Worlds was no different than coming into any other Worlds despite having the success that I had at last Worlds. Of course, last year was missing this guy to my left [Hanyu] who did amazing a few weeks before. I'm happy with the way I performed and I'm going to use what I did today to build the confidence for Saturday."

Asked about having to juggle studies at Yale and elite skating, Chen said he's been able to find a balance. "I think this has been my favourite season so far competing. It's really reassuring for myself that I've been able to manage both school and elite competitive skating. There was definitely a little bit of a learning curve. It took me a while to figure out how to do both. Ultimately I'm happy with the way things have progressed in skating."

9:43 pm – Hanyu: "I shouldn't really have held back that much"

Hanyu finished third, and has been speaking in the press conference for the three short program small medallists. He has opted to speak in Japanese this time, saying: "I actually would like to speak in English, but I want to make sure my feelings are communicated accurately."

"I'm very disappointed with my short program, I made a very big mistake so I aim to reflect on that and figure out what I can do better for my free skate. I will look at everything I can do to improve upon my performance."

Asked about his popped quad Salchow, which he fell on during warm-ups, he added: "To be honest, I probably thought too much about it, I was thinking too much about it, and the fact that it didn't go well during the six-minute practice was maybe also a factor.

"I couldn't really find the right space for me to try that jump and I think I shouldn't really have held back that much. I think I should have had more confidence and assumed a feeling of being more like the champion and gone in appropriately.

"I really felt just internally, from within, that I wanted to do a very good short program here. It doesn't have anything to do with the fact that the competition is being held in Japan or all the Japanese fans. I really put all the pressure on myself."

9:22 pm – Brown "super, super pleased"

Jason Brown has put in a very strong skate today after a season of change, in which he moved to Toronto to train under Brian Orser and Tracy Wilson.

"I've been working so, so, so hard at home and putting in hours and the time and working so hard to work on all the changes that we've been making throughout the season, so to be at the World Championships and get a personal best and put out that performance, I'm just super, super pleased," he said.

When asked by Olympic Channel what was the main difference he felt to last season, he said: "There's a bit of confidence, a maturity confidence. As far as the skating goes, there's still a lot of changes that we have to make, but as the season's gone on, I've gotten a lot more confidence. I think it's a sense of maturity, the way that I'm carrying myself."

Meanwhile, the draw has been done for tomorrow's starting order. The final group will skate as follows: Vincent Zhou, Shoma Uno, Matteo Rizzo, Yuzuru Hanyu, Nathan Chen, Jason Brown.

9:13 pm – Read our recap

While we wait for more reaction from the skaters, you can read our recap of the action here.

9:05 pm – Hanyu admits nerves

Speaking to the media in the mixed zone, Yuzuru Hanyu expressed his disappointment with his short program skate.

Answering a question in English, he said: "I'm just really feeling a little nervous for my skating. I'm trying to get more confidence for my long program. I feel really frustrated for this performance.

"Just my mistakes, I need to focus on this competition and this feeling is clearly a special moment for only this competition."

8:54 pm – Chen delivers

The fans are clapping along to Chen's music, Caravan by jazz musician Duke Ellington. It's catchy.

Triple Axel to open, then a nice quad Lutz. A clean quad Toe, triple Toe combination.

This will see him into the lead going into tomorrow.

The crowd are lapping this up, they absolutely love it. Standing ovation.

107.40, that's a massive score. The only skater to break three digits, and he finds himself nearly 11 points clear of Jason Brown and nearly 13 ahead of Yuzuru Hanyu. They are your three small medallists.

Nathan Chen performing during his short program at 2019 Worlds

8:50 pm – Drama!

This has been a very dramatic last group. Canada's Keegan Messing falls on the first jump of his combination and ends up down in 13th. Reigning champion Nathan Chen is the only one left to skate.

8:45 pm – Ninth for Kolyada

No luck for Mikhail Kolyada, the Russian who won the short program at Europeans. A couple of errors leaves him down in ninth and he looks furious.

8:36 pm – Clean from Brown

Jason Brown has never been a big quadruple jumper, and indeed doesn't do one in his short skate.

Opens with a triple Flip, then gets a big cheer for a beautiful triple Axel. Triple Lutz, triple Toeloop combination. That is a clean skate.

The American is about to overtake Hanyu.

A massive standing ovation and a big hug from coach Orser, whose team Brown joined this season.

96.81, past Hanyu and into the lead.

Jason Brown chats to Meryl Davis about his season of change

Jason Brown went live on Instagram with Meryl Davis to talk about the big c...

8:30 pm – Uno falls

Time for the other Japanese skater in the final session, Shoma Uno.

He falls on his opening quad flip. Things aren't going well. Doubles his second Toeloop on an attempted quad Toeloop, triple Toeloop combination. Triple Axel gets a cheer from the crowd.

Does this open the door for Nathan Chen to retain his world crown?

Uno is smiling in the Kiss-and-Cry. He's not letting it affect him, or if it is, he's not showing it. Goes into fourth place for now, so he may end up outside the top six for tomorrow…

8:22 pm – Hanyu in trouble

The noise is absolutely deafening as the two-time Olympic champion Hanyu takes the ice for his competition skate. He fell in his warm-up on a quad Salchow. How will he go?

Not well, unfortunately. Pops his opening quad Salchow. It's only a double. Clean triple Axel and quad Toeloop, triple Toeloop combination. But where will this skate go in the standings?

He still gets a big ovation and a flood of Winnie the Pooh toys make their way onto the ice. He's in first. But the pop cost him a load of points. At the very least, he will be in the top six heading into the free.

Yuzuru Hanyu during his short program at the 2019 Worlds

8:09 pm – Samarin disappointed

European silver medallist Alexander Samarin of Russia looks devastated after his skate. He popped his opening Lutz and that means he won't be challenging the leaders. USA's Vincent Zhou currently leads, with the final group – led off by Yuzuru Hanyu – next.

7:51 pm – We have a new leader

Italy's European bronze medallist Matteo Rizzo soars into the lead with a massive 93.37 personal best after a beautifully clean skate.

This is what the Winter Universiade champion had to say…

7:40 pm – Yellow

Hang on, Deniss Vasiljevs is wearing yellow trousers…

7:17 pm – Kévin Aymoz leads

With just two groups to skate, France's Kévin Aymoz is the current leader on 88.24 points.

The 21-year-old cried in the Kiss-and-Cry after his routine, later explaining it was a combination of factors.

"It was the stress going down. And to see a season's best, it was very emotional."

Kevin Aymoz in the mixed zone after his short program

6:58 pm – Tough debut

A difficult World Championships debut for Cha Jun-hwan, who under-rotated and fell on his triple Axel. The South Korean gets a hug from coach Brian Orser as he comes off the ice. Into 8th goes Cha for now. Olympic Channel spoke to both Cha and Brezina at the Grand Prix Final in Vancouver last year:

6:50 pm – Who Wants to Live Forever?

Michal Brezina has asked the question by laying down a solid short program to the Queen classic that receives a big ovation from the crowd as he finishes. A strong performance that included a quad Salchow. Goes into second place.

6:35 pm – Ladies' free skate practice

The practice session for tomorrow's ladies' free skate has also been going on while the men are out there. News from the practice rink is that Rika Kihira sustained a surprise fall, but she got back up, and has since landed four triple Axel-triple Toeloop combinations.

6:19 pm – Crowd pleaser

The crowd love Carrillo! Unfortunately, the young Mexican struggled with his jumps. He slots into 14th place, which means Malaysia's Julian Yee does indeed qualify for Saturday's free skate.

5:54 pm – Ice dance draw

Some news from the draw for tomorrow morning's ice dance rhythm dance. The final group of five will go in the following order: Guignard/Fabbri, Chock/Bates, Hubbell/Donohue, Stepanova/Bukin, and the three-time world champions and Olympic silver medallists Papadakis/Cizeron skating last.

5:43 pm – Who is Donovan Carrillo?

Mexico's Donovan Carrillo Suazo skates in this next group. We caught up with him yesterday to find out more about him, and who is his figure skating inspiration. Watch below!

Meet Donovan Carrillo - The Mexican figure skater inspired by Javi Fernandez

The 19-year-old, who competes at the World Championships in Saitama, usuall...

5:24 pm – Ice being resurfaced

It's time for the ice to be resurfaced as we take a break between Groups 2 and 3. Russia's Andrei Lazukin is the current leader.

And if you're wondering what they're using to clear the ice, here they are… Let's call them ice tractors, shall we?

Ice resurfacing machines go to work at the #WorldFigure

4:33 pm – Yee goes clean

Clean skate from Yee, who's easily into first by over 10 points. There are 35 skaters on the start list, so 11 will miss out on the free skate. Yee has put himself in a strong position to be one of the 24 going through.

4:11 pm – Training in a shopping mall

Malaysia's Julian Yee skates at 4:27 pm. At PyeongChang 2018, he became his country's first Olympic figure skater. Did you know he used to train in a shopping mall growing up? Watch the Olympic Channel original, Far From Home, starring Julian here.

Malaysia’s first Olympic figure skater trains in a shopping mall

Malaysia’s first figure skating Olympian Julian Yee wants sport, and his pr...

3:50 pm – Throwback Thursday

It's nearly time for the men to hit the ice. Yuzuru Hanyu will be skating his short program to Otoñal, in tribute to Johnny Weir – and you can relieve Weir's Torino 2006 skate below.

Johnny Weir skates to 'Otonal' at Torino 2006

In his Torino 2006 free program performance, Johnny Weir skates to 'Otonal'...

3:14 pm – Hanyumania increasing

The men's short program begins in under an hour, with Group 1 warm-ups at 4 pm and the first skater on ice for competition at 4:08 pm. Excitement is building, and there's no prizes for guessing who everyone has come to see!

Yuzuru Hanyu fans at the #WorldFigure in Saitama

2:41 pm – The medallists

Your overall medallists… gold to Sui/Han, silver to Tarasova/Morozov, and bronze to Zabiiako/Enbert.

The 2019 world championship pairs medallists: China's Sui Wenjing and Han Cong in first place, Russia's Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov in second place and Russia's Natalia Zabiiako and Alexander Enbert in third place. (REUTERS/Issei Kato)

2:28 pm – 'We knew that if we challenged ourselves, we would win'

Speaking in the arena after clinching the pairs title, Sui and Han thanked their fans and teammates for their continued support despite a difficult year.

Sui said: "It's not been an easy season for us, including some injuries. I want to thank our teammates, coaches for their encouragement. In the short, we performed very well, and as the last to go on today, we knew that if we did well and challenged ourselves, we would win."

Han added: "We want to thank everyone for your enthusiastic support, not just for us but for all athletes. It keeps encouraging us and helping us perform. I want to thank our association for helping us through the difficult times."

Sui Wenjing and Han Cong perform their pairs free skate

2:15 pm – Reaction from someone who knows what it's like…

2:08 pm – Sui Wenjing and Han Cong are pairs world champions

Olympic silver medallists Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, who had to withdraw from last year's worlds, are pairs world champions again. They've regained the title they won in 2017 with a brilliant, emotive skate.

A huge reaction from the crowd. China flags are being waved.

It's a massive season's best by nearly 19 points.

The free skate small medals: gold to Sui/Han, silver to Tarasova/Morozov, and bronze to James/Ciprès.

The overall pairs podium: gold to Sui/Han, silver to Tarasova/Morozov, and bronze to Zabiiako/Enbert.

2:00 pm – French pair off the podium

Confirmation there that James and Ciprès will finish off the podium as Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov go into the lead, ahead of fellow Russians Natalia Zabiiako/Alexander Enbert and Chinese pair Peng Cheng/Jin Yang. China's Sui Wenjing and Han Cong are still to skate.

But don't fret, James and Ciprès fans. They'll be back.

In a colourful display of language, Ciprès said after their skate: "We won't give up until we get this […] title. Sorry about that! You can put like, the stars, you know. But we want this title, everybody knows that we can do it, we know that we can do it, and we are going to do it."

James added: "We're going to be back, and we're not going to leave until we win this title. If it takes forever… which it probably won't!"

1:42 pm – James and Ciprès "proud" after fighting performance

They won't be getting the world title they came to Japan for, but Vanessa James and Morgan Ciprès have an outside shot at getting on the podium after their free program, despite a small error. Both said they are proud with how today went.

Asked in the mixed zone after the skate if she was happy with the performance, James said: "Well, it's bittersweet, because yesterday is still a disappointment and today wasn't our best program. But it was a program that we fought for, so we are very proud. It wasn't easy coming back after yesterday and with a little bit of soreness, so I think we're proud."

Ciprès added: "It was obviously different than the way we were expecting it to go on the ice today, because after the short program we knew already that we cannot reach the title, which was our goal. So we wanted to skate well for our fans who sent us a lot of messages yesterday after the collision and after the bad short program. We can be proud of what we did today. We wanted to fight and show that we never give up."

Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres perform their free program

1:30 pm – Reaction from Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc

We're just getting ready for the last four pairs to take the ice, but we caught up with Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc after their free skate. The American pair will finish no lower than ninth, and have gained a second pairs spot for the USA next year.

"It wasn't a perfect performance, but we accomplished our goal, that was to earn our two spots back. We put in all the work back home so that we could come here and feel ready. After the short program I was really disappointed in myself, just because I didn't want this goal to slip away. We had worked really hard, which is what I think you saw out there today," Cain said.

LeDuc added: "After the scores came up and we were in the kiss and cry, it was like, 'Oh my God, we're here, we did it'. At the beginning of the season, we set a goal to get a Grand Prix medal, become national champions, go to Worlds and get our spots back. We've accomplished all those goals this season."

Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc pose after their free skate

1:15 pm – Practice complete

Title hopefuls Hanyu, Nathan Chen and Shoma Uno were all in action during this morning's practice session with run-throughs of their short programs. Not long until the competition...

Who are you cheering for? Get in touch @OlympicChannel on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

World Figure Skating Championship men's practice Thursday

1:09 pm – James and Cipres end on a high

They've had to skate earlier than they would've liked, and Vanessa James just about held on to one of her jumps, but the French pair have ended on a high after a disappointing short program yesterday. It was a solid skate but they will probably end the event off the podium after Wednesday.

12:11 pm — First medals coming up

The first medals of the World Championships will be awarded shortly in the pairs competition.

After the short program, Russia's Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov hold about a two point lead over China's Sui Wenjing and Han Cong. Peng Cheng and Jin Yang of China were third.

There was no shortage of drama in yesterday's short after a collision in the warm-up between Italy's Matteo Guarise and France's Vanessa James left James shaken. She and partner Morgan Cipres were considered medal contenders after winning the Grand Prix Final and European Championships but finished seventh Wednesday.

"I don't think it's possible to catch the Russians and Chinese," coach John Zimmerman said afterward. "It's not going to happen."

11:58 am – Meet the mascot

Speaking of cute, cuddly things, there's been another sighting of arena mascot Tamarlin.

What does Hanyu do with all those Winnie the Poohs?

Whenever Yuzuru Hanyu completes his routine, fans shower the ice with Winni...

11:39 am – Poohs galore

One thing we can definitely expect to see lot of today is Winnie the Pooh, the cuddly character fans throw on the ice after a Hanyu performance. The atmosphere outside of the Saitama Super Arena was buzzing this morning and the yellow fella was everywhere as the fans gear up to see their hero in action for the first time since November.

Hanyu fans get ready to welcome their idol back

11:15 am – Life of Brian

We bumped into coach Brian Orser earlier as he popped out for a quick pre-competition coffee and, according to him, the fans aren't the only ones who are excited.

"He's in really top form," he said of Hanyu. "It's been a while since we've competed, since November, so he's actually pretty excited to get out there and he always seems to rise to the occasion. And this is a big occasion."

Yuzuru Hanyu in practice on Wednesday

11:00 am – Good morning from Saitama!

Hello figure skating fans! It's Thursday and we are blogging live from Japan at the World Championships of Figure Skating 2019. And it's the day many, MANY fans have been waiting for - Double Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu skates for the first time since suffering an injury at Rostelecom Cup back in November. The men's short program kicks off at 2:55pm (local time) so you are not going to want to go anywhere!