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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Japan’s Sakamoto wins third consecutive figure skating world title

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Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto rallied on Friday from fourth place in the short programme to become the first woman to win three straight titles at the Figure Skating World Championships since 1968.

The 2022 Olympic bronze medalist staged a nearly flawless routine featuring multiple triple jumps and hit 149.67 points in her free skate for a total of 222.96, which was more than 10 points over the 17-year-old American Isabeau Levito. Kim Chae-yeon of South Korea took bronze with 203.59 points.

“I was fourth in the short programme, so I was a little anxious about that, but today I was in a really good place emotionally,” said Sakamoto, who had claimed the world titles in 2022 and 2023. “And the intention was suitable: I was able to perform my elements one by one, so I’m happy with the result.”

Sakamoto has dominated the season, sweeping the Grand Prix Series and claiming a fourth Japanese national title.

Earlier on Friday, Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the United States retained their ice dance title after hitting a season-best 90.08 points in the rhythm dance.

The American pair was 2.56 points ahead of runners-up Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri of Italy. Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier of Canada ranked third.

“We felt like this was our best performance of this programme of the season. We certainly had the most fun of all our performances thus far, and the crowd was a big, big part of that,” Chock noted.

Chen Xizi and Xing Jianing, the sole Chinese pair in ice dance, gained a score of 58.85 points to rank 30th among 36 pairs and were not qualified for the free dance.

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