ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2019: Day 5 Exhibition Gala Recap

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistMarch 24, 2019

USA's Nathan Chen performs in the mens short program during the world figure skating championships in Japanese city of Saitama on March 21, 2019 (Photo by Nicolas Datiche / Nicolas Datiche / AFP)        (Photo credit should read NICOLAS DATICHE/AFP/Getty Images)

The curtain came down on the 2019 ISU World Figure Skating Championships on Sunday, with the skaters taking to the ice for the gala exhibition.

After four days of intense competition, the final outings on the ice were for show purposes only, with the medals for the 2019 edition already dished out.

While there may not be an edge to action in these circumstances, often the pressure-free environment allows the skaters to totally express themselves with spectacular results. Sunday’s showcase was no different.


Sunday Recap

The Olympic Channel shared a photo of the rink at Saitama Prefecture in Japan prior to the skating getting underway:

Olympic Channel @olympicchannel

The medals have been decided at #WorldFigure but don’t go anywhere because it’s nearly gala time! We love the cherry blossom-themed rink today. 😍🌸 Follow our live blog for updates. 👉 https://t.co/0cDEABkNXx https://t.co/shAxj5CyDR

Italian skater Nicole Della Monica posted the following photo on Twitter at the conclusion of the gala:

Nicole Della Monica @dm_nicole89

This is it! #show #figureskating #Worldfigure #Japan #日本 https://t.co/BjMvi3em1v

For those in attendance it was a chance to pay tribute to the skaters who have entertained over the course of the previous four days. The winners were particularly heralded, with the gold medalists finishing off the session with their routines.

Prior to the champions taking to the ice, there were a couple of home favourites on display to warm up the crowd.

First, Rika Kihira thrilled those in attendance with her routine, before Yuzuru Hanyu, who took silver in the men's singles event, drew plenty of cheers for his segment.

The first of the champions to take part were Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, who were crowned as the winners of the pairs event. Here's what they had to say following their triumph:

Either side of a routine from free dance winners Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, the two individual winners made their way to the ice for the final time in these championships.

Alina Zagitova, who added the world title to her Olympic crown this week, performed to Survivor and then after an encore from the fans, repeated a section of her winning routine from earlier in the week. The backing music for that was from the Phantom of the Opera.

To finish off was Nathan Chen, who skated exceptionally earlier in the tournament to become a two-time world champion.

As Jackie Wong of the Ice Talk podcast noted, after Chen skated to Otto Knows' Next to Me, the fans wanted to see more from him:

Jackie Wong @rockerskating

I'm not sure Nathan Chen has even done a runthrough of this new exhibition gala. #WorldFigure

Jackie Wong @rockerskating

Announcer: Champion, of course, everyone is waiting for your encore. Nathan Chen: IM TOO TIRED PLZ #WorldFigure

The next major event for figure skating fanatics will be the world team trophy, which starts on April 11 in Fukuoka, Japan.