HELSINKI – Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu hit four quadruple jumps in a record score to snatch a second career gold in style at the world figure skating championship on Saturday.
The 22-year-old, so close to gold in the last two world championships, led a Japanese one-two ahead of Shoma Uno, with China’s Jin Boyang taking bronze as Asia swept the men’s podium for the first time ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Hanyu had been trailing in fifth after the short program, but pulled out a record score in the free skate to reclaim the title he won in 2014.
Bears and gifts rained down on the ice after his performance and he wiped tears from his eyes as he watched his scores appear.
He scored 321.59 points overall with 19-year-old Uno achieving 319.31 for his first world medal and Jin taking his second straight bronze with 303.58.
“I feel very regretful from my short program, so I have to train more and more,” said Hanyu.
“Because I was concentrating for all I was worth on each and every element, it’s like I’ve forgotten how it went.”
He added: “Finally, I can say I’ve worked hard, but maybe I need more (ahead of next year’s Pyeongchang Olympics).”
Two-time defending champion Javier Fernandez of Spain went into the free-skating final in the lead, but dropped to fourth after falling during an error-strewn skate at the Hartwall Arena.
Hanyu had to settle for silver for the past two worlds behind Toronto training partner Fernandez, with the superstar last year squandering a 12-point lead to finish runner-up to the Spaniard.
This time the situation was reversed with Hanyu over 10 points adrift of five-time European champion Fernandez going into the final day of competition.
But Hanyu pulled out a superb free skate to the music of Joe Hisaishi’s “Hope and Legacy,” nailing four quads for his best performance of the season and a record 223.20 points.
Hanyu improved on his own world-record score in the free skate he achieved at the 2015 Grand Prix final by 3.72 points.
Uno was pleased with his performance.
“I’m glad I could give my best performance of the season in a meet where I failed last year,” said Uno, who was seventh at worlds in Boston in 2016. “I was just focused on enjoying my program and I was composed in doing exactly that.
“I wasn’t in crunch mode like last year. I had more breathing room and could savor what the world championships are like.”
Former three-time world champion Patrick Chan of Canada finished fifth after the 26-year-old Olympic silver medalist fell during his program.
The competition concludes on Saturday with Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir bidding for a third ice dancing gold after 2010 and 2012.