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Shoma Uno and Yuma Kagiyama Finish 1-2 in Short Program at World Championships

Three-time Olympic medalist Shoma Uno delivered a virtuoso performance in Montreal as he attempts to capture his third consecutive world title.

Shoma Uno is halfway to a third straight world title after a commanding performance in the short program at the World Figure Skating Championships in Montreal, Canada, on Thursday night, March 21.

The three-time Olympic medalist followed a stunning skate by compatriot Yuma Kagiyama with a virtuoso effort of his own and leads heading into Saturday's free skate as he tries to become the first man to win three consecutive world crowns since Canada's Patrick Chan did it from 2011-13.

Uno is on top with 107.72 points, with Kagiyama, the Beijing Olympic silver medalist, close behind at 106.35. Grand Prix Final champion Ilia Malinin of the United States is third on 105.97.

Jason Brown of the US is in fourth with 93.87, while Kao Miura is well back in 10th at 85.00.

Skating before an appreciative crowd at the Bell Centre, home of the NHL's legendary Montreal Canadiens, Uno, Kagiyama and Malinin showed why they are the three best male skaters in the world, with each delivering on the big stage.

Shoma Uno
Shoma Uno (KYODO)

Time Off Did Not Hurt Shoma Uno

The 26-year-old Uno, who has not competed since winning his sixth straight title at the Japan Championships in December 2023, looked in top form and clear of the nagging injuries he dealt with at last year's worlds.

The star skated to "I Love You Kung Fu" and "Clair de Lune" and opened with a fantastic quadruple flip, followed by a quad toe loop/triple toe loop combination jump. He rolled through the rest of his program, hitting a nice triple axel and racked up level fours for all of his spins and step sequence with sublime movements.

The crowd gave Uno a standing ovation as he completed his routine.

"I'm glad that all of my hard work paid off and I was able to perform well today," Uno stated. "I felt really well while skating and the audience was great and they pushed me to skate and perform even better."

Added Uno, "Although my combination jump was not the best one I could have done, my first jump received very high marks, which helped me to get a high score overall."

Yuma Kagiyama performs his rendition of "Believer." (KYODO)

Kagiyama Continues Comeback Surge

The 20-year-old Kagiyama, who won the Four Continents Championships in February, competed to "Believer" and was nothing short of mind-blowing. He started with a huge quad salchow, then landed a quad toe loop/triple toe loop combo, and expertly executed his triple axel.

Kagiyama also earned level fours for all of his spins and step sequence and a standing ovation from the audience.

Yuma Kagiyama reacts after his short program. (KYODO)

"At first, I was 20 percent nervous and 80 percent excited for my skate," Kagiyama noted. "But even in my practice, I try to train and skate as if it is for a competition, so I was well prepared and not too worried about the event.

"When my name was called, all the pressure disappeared and I felt so happy to be able to skate, especially because I was not able to compete for one year due to my [ankle] injury."

Ilia Malinin (KYODO)

It's just a shoe!

Malinin Overcomes Obstacles to Stay Close

The 19-year-old Malinin showed off his superior jumping skills in his skate to "Malaguena," opening with a titanic quad toe loop, then hitting a quad lutz/triple toe loop combo, and going on to land a big triple axel.

Malinin earned level fours on all of his spins and a level three on his step sequence.

"I was definitely really focused," Malinin said. "Just being able to make sure I had everything under control. It wasn't a program I was really happy about, but I was glad I was able to get through it."

Malinin indicated he may not be at full fitness for the competition.

"The past couple of weeks leading up to it have been tough for me," Malinin commented. "I had a lot of problems: injuries, boot problems."

He added, "I looked at the jumps that for me are the most consistent and are the easiest for me to replicate no matter how tired or how much pressure I have."

Kao Miura skates to "This Place Was a Shelter." (KYODO)

Combination Miss Hurts Miura

The 18-year-old Miura, the 203 world junior champion, went all out in his skate to "This Place Was a Shelter," but after starting with a strong quad salchow and triple axel, fell on his planned quad toe loop/triple toe loop combo. The mistake proved costly and puts Miura far behind the leaders.

Miura notched level fours on two of his spins, and a level three on his step sequence.

"I put all my effort into preparing for this competition," Miura remarked. "I wanted to put out 100 percent as this was my first world championship. Because of this preparation, I ended up getting the score I received today.

Added Miura, "I will forget what just happened in the short program and go into the free program with a clean slate."

Ryuichi Kihara and Riku Miura perform in the pairs free skate. (KYODO)

Miura, Kihara Take Silver in Pairs

Later Friday, last year's pairs world champions Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara had to settle for the silver medal behind winners Deanna Stellato Dudek and Maxime Deschamps of Canada after the free skate.

The Canadians' winning tally was 221.56, with Miura and Kihara registering 217.88 in second. Germany's Minerva Fabienne Hase and Nikita Volodin claimed the bronze with 210.40.

Miura and Kihara were unable to attend the medal ceremony or press conference after the event due to undisclosed medical issues.

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Author: Jack Gallagher

The author is a veteran sports journalist and one of the world's foremost figure skating experts. Find articles and podcasts by Jack on his author page, and find him on X (formerly Twitter) @sportsjapan.

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