Nathan Chen Wins Free Skate Gold at World Figure Skating Championships 2018

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistMarch 24, 2018

US's Nathan Chen performs during the Men's figure skating short program at the Milano World League Figure Skating Championship 2018 in Milan on March 22, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL MEDINA        (Photo credit should read MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)
MIGUEL MEDINA/Getty Images

Nathan Chen won the gold medal in the men's free skate event at the 2018 World Figure Skating Championships in Milan on Saturday.

Chen finished ahead of Shoma Uno and Mikhail Kolyada after a disastrous run of programs from many of the other big-name skaters who made up the final group to take the ice. Many fell early and often, including Chen's U.S. team-mate Vincent Zhou.

U.S. Figure Skating confirmed 18-year-old Chen's scores, with his free skate mark just four points short of a new world record:

Chen took to the ice last and produced a clean program to hoover up technical points after his nearest competitors had fallen.

Earlier, Dimitri Aliev caught the eye with a quality program in the preliminary group. The 18-year-old presented well, landing the toe jumps, but he made a rare error when attempting a triple axel.

Even so, the young Russian had scored high, with the more experienced Michal Brezina impressing next. The 27-year-old Czech skater scored a career-best 165.98 to place second in the group behind Aliev.

A career-best score was also achieved by Japan's Kazuki Tomono, who put together a quite brilliant program. The 19-year-old did his combined score the power of the good, per Ice Network:

Tomono trailed by two points after Israel's Alexei Bychenko closed out the group with a demanding routine. Bychenko scored 167.29, taking his overall score to 258.28.

Arguably the highlight from the second group was the performance of Misha Ge. In perhaps his last skate, Ge was near flawless during an emotional program.

The final group began with Canada's Keegan Messing enduring a mixed program. He started poorly, having to put his hand down to support a triple Lutz, before a costly fall left him fifth overall.

Uno took to the ice next but began with a fall and another slip. The Japanese skater showed the ill effects of an ankle problem suffered during a recent practice session, making a program featuring multiple planned quads ultimately too taxing.

It had been a tough experience for Uno, but Inside Skating still applauded the effort from the 20-year-old, who won a silver medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea:

Falls also hampered Boyang Jin and Kolyada, as the group's biggest stars were struggling to perform under pressure.

Then it was Zhou's turn to hit the ice early, falling on a triple turn, before taking another tumble on the Salchow. Zhou never truly recovered from those gaffes, settling for 13th overall.

As things stood, Uno led despite his difficulties on the ice. Yet Chen soon made the lead academic as he closed out what had been an otherwise error-strewn session with some faultless skating.

Chen made easy work of the Quads to underline his class. Jackje Wong of RockerSkating.com and Ice Network detailed how well Chen performed on his jumps:

A world title was just reward for such a talent.

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