Nathan Chen successfully defended his men's gold at the 2019 World Figure Skating Championships on Saturday after a season's best display in the free skate saw him clinch back-to-back titles in Saitama, Japan.
United States star Chen came into Day 4 as the men's leader following the short program, and he scored 216.02 in an error-free skate on Saturday to take the top prize at the Saitama Super Arena. Chen finished with 323.42 points overall, just about beating his winning score from 2018.
Yuzuru Hanyu was Japan's best chance at challenging for the gold medal coming into this competition, but he finished just short and had to settle for silver.
His overall score of 300.97 was way off the pace set by Saturday's champion, although American bronze medal-winner Vincent Zhou was almost another 20 points behind him (281.16).
In The Loop posted a rundown of the final leaderboard:
Zhou's late move into the bronze-medal place saw the United States account for two podium places, and it's difficult to envision Chen being knocked off his skating pedestal in the near future.
Commentator Nick McCarvel provided more context on how rare the victory was:
Nick McCarvel @NickMcCarvel
Statz: --Nathan Chen becomes the first U.S. 🇺🇸 man to successfully defend his #WorldFigure gold since Scott Hamilton in 1983-84. --It's the first time since '96 that two U.S. men are on the worlds podium. --This is a first world medal for Vincent Zhou https://t.co/XhyTmke0SQ
Six-time U.S. figure skating champion Meryl Davis congratulated the new generation of American talent:
Home favourite Hanyu was largely expected to be the fiercest challenger on Chen's throne, but like a true champion, the threat of his competition only appeared to coax an even more refined display from the latter.
Magnanimous in victory, Chen heaped praise on his rival after the medal ceremony, per podcaster Jackie Wong:
Jason Brown was second behind Chen after the short program, but he drifted down the scoreboard after netting almost 50 points fewer than his countryman in the free skate and ended up ninth overall.
The American was disappointed not to carry over the same standard into the free skate as he showcased in the short program, but the gulf in class between his skate and those of Chen and Hanyu was noticeable.
No man has won three consecutive world gold medals since Canadian Patrick Chan between 2011 and 2013, a feat Chen could now match if he defends his title in Montreal next year.