Figure Skating

Figure Skating World Championships 2019: As it happened - Saturday

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

By ZK Goh and Scott Bregman ·

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

Please CLICK HERE for the live blog from Sunday's exhibition gala.

12:24 am – Thanks for joining us

Thanks for joining us today!

Olympic Channel's Meryl Davis is currently sitting down with bronze medallist Vincent Zhou, and interview with champion Nathan Chen shortly.

Don't forget to check back on later for the videos.

And join us again tomorrow, when we'll have updates from the exhibition gala and some behind-the-scenes coverage with Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, the ice dance champions.

Meryl Davis with Vincent Zhou

11:17 pm – Exhibition gala performers

The order for tomorrow's exhibition gala has been confirmed.

The skaters performing tomorrow, in order, are: local skater Momoka Hatasaki, Michal Brezina, Natalia Zabiiako/Alexander Enbert, Gabby Daleman, Keiji Tanaka, Madison Hubbell/Zach Donohue, Bradie Tennell, Kirsten Moore-Towers/Michael Marinaro, Matteo Rizzo, Elizabet Tursynbaeva, Misato Komatsubara/Tim Koleto, Jin Boyang, Satoko Miyahara, and Nicole Della Monica/Matteo Guarise in the first half.

After the intermission, we will see local skater Shun Sato, Kaori Sakamoto, Charlene Guignard/Marco Fabbri, Shoma Uno, Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres, Evgenia Medvedeva, Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier, Vincent Zhou, Evgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov, Rika Kihira, Victoria Sinitsina/Nikita Katsalapov, Yuzuru Hanyu, pairs champions Sui Wenjing/Han Cong, ladies' champion Alina Zagitova, ice dance champions Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron, and men's champion Nathan Chen.

10:59 pm – Quad Axel talk

Hanyu and Chen, in the press conference, are asked about the quadruple Axel.

"I would definitely like to be able to do one, I promise that I will do it in competition, otherwise there would be no meaning to it," he says. "Even if I did one in an ice show, it wouldn't mean so much unless it was in competition and recognised and had a GOE (grade of execution).

"I need to monitor my injury and figure out what training is needed. I want to do a quad Axel, Lutz, and flip."

Chen responds: "If anyone's going to do a quad Axel, it's going to be this guy (Hanyu). I'm not doing a quad Axel any time soon. I'm just happy I hit my triple Axels here and throughout the season."

10:56 pm – Meanwhile...

Shoma Uno has just arrived back at this hotel. His fans were waiting for him, of course.

10:54 pm – Hanyu admits ankle injury was serious

Hanyu says the ankle injury he suffered at the Rostelecom Cup in Moscow was worse than before.

"When I was injured in Russia, compared to the past, it felt like the damage from that injury was greater," he said in the press conference.

"After I hurt my ankle I was trying to make sure I could at least do a triple Axel without any pain killers, but there was still pain after I landing the triple Axel or a quad jump.

"I think my ankle is stronger now though because I can jump the loop."

10:47 pm – Chen and Hanyu not thinking about Beijing 2022 yet

Asked about the next Winter Olympics in Beijing, the new two-time world champion Chen says it's not on his mind... yet.

"There’s still a lot of skating to be done until those Olympics come around. I think it’s a little premature to think about what those Olympics will be like. I would love to just focus on, not even focus on, but embrace this moment.

"I'm excited. I know that there’s going to be a lot of amazing skating up until then."

Yuzuru Hanyu is in full agreement.

"Basically Nathan spoke all of my thoughts [...] I don’t even have a plan for next season. I would like to spend some time just thinking over some things.

"I am looking forward to finding out who will become the champion in Beijing."

10:41 pm – Hanyu wants to "evolve"

Speaking about his loop, he said: "I'm very happy that it was successful, but looking back on it, I feel more ambitious and wish I had done a better jump.

"I would like to evolve further in many different aspects."

Chen, meanwhile, thanks figure skating journalists for their help covering events. "I like to know what's going on. It sort of helps me prepare mentally for what I need to do.

"It’s amazing to see how much the audience cares for us and how much they truly love skating. The ice being covered in Pooh bears is really representative of how much they love the sport."

10:37 pm – Hanyu admits disappointment

Yuzuru Hanyu, speaking at the press conference, says his home fans gave him a boost, but he is unhappy with himself.

"For me because this competition was going to be held in japan, I really feel that the audience gave me extra strength," he said, adding: "I am disappointed with the result, somewhat, of being in second place.

"Even so, I am glad I was able to compete with these two skaters here. I want to thank them for making me feel like I want to be even better."

Bronze medallist Vincent Zhou, meanwhile, can't believe he's on the podium, and who are alongside him.

"It’s the best result I could have possibly hoped for. And to share the podium with Nathan Chen and Yuruzu Hanyu is unbelievable. I admire these guys – and all the other competitors, too, so much."

Yuzuru Hanyu, Nathan Chen, and Vincent Zhou pose with their medals

10:33 pm – Chen first since Hamilton to repeat

Nathan Chen has become the first American to retain a world title since Olympic champion Scott Hamilton in 1984.

Speaking at the press conference, he said: "I’m so proud of the US for having two medallists. This competition went awesome. 

"It’s an amazing feeling to be up here with these two guys. I’m proud of myself for being able to put out two pretty strong programs. I hope to have more experiences like this."

10:21 pm – Brown and Uno disappointed

Both Shoma Uno and Jason Brown were understandably disappointed after their results today.

Speaking to Japanese media in the mixed zone through tears, Uno said the pressure of chasing a result at home may have got to him. "It could be related, yes, frankly speaking. I can't make a crack judgement at the minute," he said.

"My current feelings are of regret. I'm disappointed with myself. When I look back, maybe my practice wasn't good."

Meanwhile, speaking to Olympic Channel, Brown admitted: "It was not the performance I was hoping to end this year on.

But, he added: "I'm just so proud of my growth this season. I'm just really excited about the changes that I'm making and constantly implementing.

"You guys are seeing a glimpse of what's to come. Most seasons I feel like I work towards an event, but season I feel like it's daily work with events along the way."

9:56 pm – Photos from Hanyu's free program

You can read our recap of the evening's events here.

Yuzuru Hanyu's silver medal free skate

9:40 pm – Reaction from Nathan Chen

The medal ceremony is currently underway, but Nathan Chen was interviewed on the ice earlier.

"It's always an honour to be able to skate with Yuzuru Hanyu, and to skate after him is an even greater honour.

"This is my third time being in this arena, I came earlier in the season and didn't have the greatest skate, and to be able to come here and put the skate out that I did today, thank you so much for supporting me."

9:32 pm – Bronze medallist Zhou: "I'm proud of my effort"

Bronze medallist Vincent Zhou spoke to the Olympic Channel in the mixed zone after his skate.

"That felt incredible, everything just came together today. The jumps, the performance, and to have the opportunity to do all that on such a big stage and in front of such a huge supportive audience is just incredible.

"I'm really proud of myself, the effort that I put in, the focus that I put in, staying in my own bubble."

9:24 pm – Nathan Chen retains world title

Time for the last skater, Jason Brown.

Down on his quad Sal, the only quad of his routine. Steps out on the triple Axel and pops a later Axel. That will knock him off the medal rostrum.

The camera cuts to Nathan as Brown sits in the Kiss-and-Cry. Chen points back towards Brown, telling the camera to focus on Jason.

14th in the free skate, ninth overall.

This will confirm Nathan Chen as the back-to-back world champion. Yuzuru Hanyu wins silver, Vincent Zhou wins bronze.

9:19 pm – Chen into the lead!

Nathan Chen leads.

A massive 216.02, 323.42 total score. Twenty-two, yes 22, points ahead of Hanyu.

He is your world champion.

9:16 pm – Chen flawless

Nathan Chen is going to need to better 193.57 to beat Hanyu.

A clean quad Lutz to open for Chen. Just about hangs on to his quad flip second element!

Clean through four elements including a quad toeloop and triple Axel. Superb start.

Quad toe, triple toe combination. That's four quads and counting.

Was that last triple Salchow in combination under-rotated?

That's incredible. That last jump aside, that was flawless. That might well be the title in the bag.

Coach Rafael Arutunyan is grinning. What a response!

Nathan Chen's record-breaking gold medal free skate


He's hanging on to a Pooh tissue box in the Kiss-and-Cry. Season's best 206.10 for the free skate!


9:08 pm – It's Pooh time! What a performance from Hanyu

Yuzuru Hanyu is on the ice.

He has four quad jumps listed in his routine. Will need to land all of them to threaten Chen.

Lands the opening quad loop. Huge cheer. He's under-rotated on a Salchow and landed unsteadily.

Superb quad topeloop.

Quad toeloop, triple Axel, step sequence. The crowd have gone well.

Another clean combination. And another! A triple Axel - Euler - triple Salchow on that one. Was that under-rotated?

Hanyu loves it! Here come the Poohs!

An absolute flood of Poohs. Massive standing ovation. Everyone has Japanese flags.

The toys are still coming.

A big hug from Brian Orser.

9:00 pm – Rizzo gets the crowd going

The crowd are involved again! They love the Queen medley Matteo Rizzo is skating to.

He fell on his opening quad toe, but this will be enough for a top ten finish. Maybe he was aiming for top five but with only one quad in his routine, it's unlikely.

Eighth on the free skate and fifth overall.

8:50 pm – Uno mistakes

Shoma Uno has put his hand down on his opening quad Salchow!

And again on his quad flip. An underrotation on his combination?

This is, sorry to say, quite error-strewn from Uno. He won't be in contention for a medal.

Still gets lots of roses from the crowd.

He's crying and upset in the Kiss-and-Cry. He goes behind Vincent Zhou.

8:44 pm – Vincent Zhou into first

Were there a number of under-rotations scored on that routine? It wouldn't be the first time for Vincent Zhou.

The automatic technical score graphic has gone into three digits.

Let's see... yes, a season's best 186.99. And a season's best total of 281.16 - that could overtake Jason Brown who only has one quad listed in his skate.

8:36 pm – Final group

The last six skaters are out on ice warming up. It's time!

Vincent Zhou, Shoma Uno, and Matteo Rizzo are the first three on ice.

Eurosport say Yuzuru Hanyu has fallen on a quad loop in warm-up.

8:27 pm – Brezina falls

Huge, huge ovation from the crowd for Czech Republic's Michal Brezina. They love his classic rock music choices, including AC/DC's Thunderstruck.

He fell on a triple flip in combination though, resulting in the repeated jump. That might have cost him. It was otherwise a high-quality skate. He even threw in an air guitar!

A season's best free skate, into third overall. He's guaranteed ninth spot.

Speaking in the mixed zone later, he calls his error "a stupid thing".

8:21 pm – Jin leads

Four quad jumps listed, three performed by Jin Boyang. Two triple Axels in that.

A big! reaction from the crowd. Maybe lacking a little bit on the performance, but that's a big technical score.

He will go into the lead. Only just! By 0.27 points ahead of Kolyada.

We spoke to him earlier this season at the Grenoble Internationaux de France - watch the piece below.

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8:12 pm – Aymoz bleeding

France's Kevin Aymoz is bleeding. He cut his hands on a fall.

He's third overall, replacing Samarin (Andrei Lazukin is in second). He's going to be hanging on to a top ten finish.

7:50 pm – Russian one-two

That was a very strong skate (set to Carmen, which is arguably overdone) from Kolyada.

He led the Europeans after short but had a shocker of a free to tumble to fifth. He's clearly put that behind him.

Aside from a step out on a quad toe, he looks pretty happy with that. He's talking to himself, a little nod, geeing himself up.

A standing ovation and a fist pump from the young Russian. This will put him into first ahead of leader Samarin for a Russian one-two. It's big, 16 points clear.

Mikhail Kolyada performs during his free skate

7:36 pm – Comeback repeat?

The last time Yuzuru Hanyu won world gold, in 2017 in Helsinki, he was fifth after the short program.

But he made up a deficit of nearly 11 points to the leader Javier Fernandez to win the world title.

If he's to win this year, he needs to claw back nearly 13 points on defending champion Nathan Chen.

Last year's bronze medallist, Mikhail Kolyada, will lead us off after the break.

7:21 pm – Cha falls twice

Grand Prix Final bronze medallist Cha Junhwan struggled in that free skate, falling twice.

Gets a bunch of encouragement from coach Brian Orser in the Kiss-and-Cry though.

It's sixth in the free skate, seventh overall from Cha.

The ice is going to be resurfaced now. Alexander Samarin still leads. Can he hang on to a top 10?

6:53 pm – Majorov signs off

Six-time Swedish national champion Alexander Majorov is retiring after the Worlds.

He's into his final competitive skate now. That's quite the fashion statement with his choice of zebra-striped shirt with reversible sequin tie.

Standing ovation. The crowd know that he's done.

Two thumbs up from Majorov to the crowd. It's a season's best that he signs off with.

6:25 pm – Showman

Skating to the soundtrack from The Greatest Showman, European silver medallist Alexander Samarin pulls off a very impressive skate (despite falling on a quadruple toeloop).

He also landed a superb quad Lutz in his opening combination. A powerful skate.

He's certainly living up to his music choice. This will probably overtake Tanaka for the lead, so I might have spoken too soon.

It does – 167.95 for a total of 246.33. He's into the lead after Group 1.

6:09 pm – Ladies' recap

Did you miss yesterday's ladies' free skate?

Alina Zagitova won, while Elizabet Tursynbaeva landed a quad Salchow, and Evgenia Medvedeva capped off a difficult season with a world bronze.

You can read our recap and watch reaction videos here.

5:52 pm – Big reception for Tanaka

Japan's Keiji Tanaka, who was 19th after the short program and skated second in the free, has just got a giant roar from the crowd as he finished his routine.

I don't think there's anyone without a Japanese flag in the crowd. They were clapping along to the William Tell Overture at the end there, and really lifted Tanaka.

That's 159.64, a total of 238.40, and he should be leading after this group.

5:20 pm – Times to note

Here are all the times you need to take note of for the men's free skate.

The first skaters hit the ice for warm-ups in ten minutes at 5:30 pm. After the first 12 skaters, the ice will be resurfaced at 7:20 pm before the third group warms up at 7:35 pm.

Skaters in this group include France's Kevin Aymoz (8:06 pm), China's Jin Boyang (8:14 pm), and Czech Republic's Michal Brezina (8:22 pm).

The final group warm up at 8:30 pm. Yuzuru Hanyu skates at 9:02 pm, Nathan Chen at 9:10 pm, and Jason Brown at 9:18 pm.

4:42 pm – Remembering Denis Ten

4:07 pm – Reaction from Hubbell, Cizeron, and Papadakis

Meryl Davis caught up with bronze medallists Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue in the mixed zone after their performance, which ended up winning bronze, and asked about the emotion in their performance this competition.

"Zach and I have progressed so much in our partnership this year," Hubbell explained. "I really feel as we were progressing the old version became not big enough for what we were able to do, and in honesty I think our own love story for each other has evolved so much in this year we had to keep evolving the program.

"It's risky to change the whole last minute of the program for a world championship when our number one goal was level four everything but we felt it was the right thing to do. To be able to skate an emotionally strong performance as well as a technically strong performance, it's what every athlete wants."

Zach Donohue kisses Madison Hubbell's forehead in the mixed zone after their free dance

Later, after winning gold, the now four-time world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron were interviewed on ice.

"We're so happy with our performance today, it was a tough competition," Cizeron noted. "It was such a high level of ice dance this year."

Papadakis added: "We were exactly here five years ago for the worlds in Saitama and it's funny to remember the whole experience we came in this five years, where we were at the time and where we are now. It's just incredible and we are very, very proud."

3:54 pm – Papadakis and Cizeron clinch fourth world title

That was sublime from Papadakis and Cizeron. The live technical element scoring graphic on the broadcast couldn't keep up.

It was very good. A big personal best, season's best, and world record (free dance) score.

They're nearly 11 points clear of the Russians. Wow.

Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron ice dance free dance

3:43 pm – Sinitsina and Katsalapov guaranteed silver

The other Russian pair, Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov, go above Hubbell and Donohue. They're guaranteed silver.

Here come Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron onto the ice.

Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov's ice dance free dance

3:39 pm – "It was a tribute to our friend"

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Canada, whose free dance was skated to music formerly used by the late Denis Ten, have been speaking about their performance.

"Today we wanted to skate with heart and pay our best tribute to Denis," Weaver said. "I hope that it would make him proud."

"We just feel really emotionally connected to the music and just the memory we shared with him," Poje added.

3:32 pm – A little prayer

Stepanova and Bukin finish their free dance to a standing ovation from the crowd. Bukin is on his knees on the ice and does a little prayer.

Will that move them in front of the Americans?

It... won't! They've missed out by just under two points. It's a new season's best but Hubbell and Donohue are guaranteed a worlds medal.

3:21 pm – Top four

Here come the top four. USA's Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue were only 0.01 point off the small podium yesterday. It's tight.

Into first by nearly five points with a season's best 127.31. It means Russia's Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin need the same score or better to guarantee themselves a medal.

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue's free dance

3:04 pm – Last group of the ice dance

The final five couples in the ice dance are now warming up for their free dance.

The starting order draw threw up an interesting quirk: they will skate in exact reverse order of their current positions.

Your current leaders are Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the USA.

2:37 pm – What motivates the champion?

Speaking to Meryl Davis for the Olympic Channel, newly-crowned world champion Alina Zagitova said it's her love of the sport that keeps her motivated.

"I think it’s the love for figure skating," said the 16-year-old. "I can say that I’m that much in love with figure skating.

"Sometimes there are days when I can’t do something and I want to give up everything but then I remember that, thanks to figure skating, I travel all over the world, I've seen a lot of places, I grew up as a person.

"That’s the way it is. First, I want to drop everything, I want to stop everything. But then I remember that figure skating is my life, that I gave everything, I keep giving everything to figure skating. I think that’s what keeps me going."

World champion Alina Zagitova speaks to the media

2:09 pm – Meryl Davis in the house!

Olympic champion Meryl Davis joins the Olympic Channel team in-venue again today in Saitama to provide exclusive insights and behind the scenes access. First up she'll be covering the ice dance free dance competition, where group three will shortly be taking the ice. Keep an eye on our Instagram stories for more.

1:57 pm – What's in the bag?

Yuzuru Hanyu merchandise is everywhere at the Saitama Super Arena ahead of his free skate tonight, including these intriguing gift bags.

1:27 pm – Freshly-crowned champ

Alina Zagitova is just 16 years old but she now already has an Olympic title and a world title under her belt. The Russian has been speaking to the media this morning following her victory and we'll be bringing you more soon. In the meantime, catch up on all the action from last night in our recap.

Women's champion Alina Zagitova speaks to the media

12:05 pm – Top three men in practice ahead of free skate

World Figure Skating Championships practice - Saturday

11:32 am – Comeback on the cards?

We went live on Twitter with Olympic champion Meryl Davis and figure skating encyclopedia Jackie Wong yesterday to get their thoughts on the action so far in Saitama, including the men's competition. Here's what they had to say about where the title might go...

Can Yuzuru Hanyu bounce back? Our experts have their say

Olympic champion Meryl Davis and Figure Skating analyst Jackie Wong discuss...

11:10 am – Men's final practice group are on the ice

The final group of the men's competition are currently on the main rink for morning practice. Nathan Chen of the United States has a comfortable lead after the short program with compatriot Jason Brown in second and home favourite Yuzuru Hanyu in third. Brown skates last tonight, with Chen and Hanyu second and third last, respectively. Refresh your memory from Thursday night with our full report of the short program. Photos from practice coming soon...

Current men's leader Nathan Chen

11:00 am – Good morning from the final day of competition!

Hello and welcome back to our live coverage from the World Championships of Figure Skating 2019 in Saitama, Japan. Buckle up because we've got a BIG day of competition ahead with the men's and ice dance medals set to be decided. Don't go anywhere!