It was a fantastic day of skating for the men at the 2014 World Figure Skating Championships, today March 28.
Coming into the free skate with almost a seven point lead over Olympic Champion, Yuzuru Hanyu, Tatsuki Machida was in first place after a brilliant performance in the short program. Machida opened with a solid quadruple toe-triple toe combination and had a great performance with only a few minor errors, leaving many to believe that he had done enough to win the world title.
One skater later, came Yuzuru Hanyu. Hanyu struggled in the free skate in Sochi, but that same struggle was not present today. Opening with a quadruple salchow that was rotated, but a bit shaky on the landing, Hanyu continued to build from there. His next element, the quadruple toe loop was beautiful and his program soared from there. It was a phenomenal performance that brought the audience to their feet, grateful to have experienced such an incredible moment.
It is disappointing that Yuzuru did not perform this well at the Olympic Games, but it was also proof to the world that he is truly deserving of Olympic gold. Hanyu overcame the point gap by one of the slimmest margins in history, earning a total of 282.59 points to Machida's 282.26. Yuzuru took home the gold, with Machida capturing the silver, putting two Japanese men on the podium.
Spain’s Javier Fernandez captured his second consecutive bronze medal after having one of the most animated free skates of the season. He completed three quadruple jumps in his free skate, but popped a triple lutz. It was still a great showing by Javier as his performing abilities are growing along with his consistency with the quadruple jumps.
One of the highlights of the event was Jeremy Abbott performing a clean free skate at an international event, which was a triumph that has eluded him in times past. As this will most likely be the final competition of his career, it was so good to see him skate so well and truly enjoying himself. Though his score was not what he was hoping for, it was a beautiful performance.
“It’s really bittersweet for me,” Jeremy said in a U.S. Figure Skating statement, “I have so many emotions going through my head. I’m happy with how I skated and that was exactly what I wanted to do here. That’s what I’ve been training for. That’s the best I’ve ever skated that program in competition.”
Max Aaron did not have the skate he was looking for. Though he stayed on his feet, completing two quad salchows and two triple axels, he either stepped out of the landings or put his hand down.
“I’m frustrated,” Max said in a U.S. Figure Skating statement, “I came out here and gave it my best. I trained hard for this but obviously it didn’t go the way I trained it. It’s reality. I have to go back and see what I can do for next season. Hopefully by the next time this opportunity comes around, I’ll be ready and I won’t be wishy-washy like I was today.”
Though Max was frustrated with his performance, his eighth place finish, along with Jeremy’s fifth place finish was enough to give the U.S. men three spots in next year’s world championships, which is a huge accomplishment.
It was a great day of skating, with an extraordinary performance by Yuzuru Hanyu. Becoming both Olympic Champion and World Champion, this young skater has a lot to be proud of.