Tomoki Hiwatashi, an American teen born to Japanese parents in the United States, won the world junior championships in Croatia on Friday night.
Hiwatashi, who hails from Hoffman Estates, Illinois, moved up from second place after the short program to claim the gold medal with a total score of 230.32 points.
Russia’s Roman Savosin (229.28) earned the silver medal, while Italy’s Daniel Grassl (224.67) took the bronze.
Hiwatashi, who speaks fluent Japanese, opened his free skate to “Fate of the Gods” with a huge quad toe loop/triple toe loop combination, followed by a triple axel/double toe loop combo. He landed a total of seven triple jumps in the victory.
The 19-year-old, whose parents are from Kobe, received level fours for his spins and a level three for his step sequence.
“When I saw the free program score of 148 points and second place in free and since I was second in the short program too, it all added up as two and I thought I was second,” Hiwatashi was quoted as saying by the ISU website. “But when I saw 230 points in total I could not believe it, because I did not think I could win. I am very excited to go back home with my gold medal.”
Hiwatashi was humble in his remarks afterward, despite the major triumph.
“But at the same time, (on) the second toe loop I wanted to do a quad toe loop and get ready for the next season, to be in the state where I can prove myself as a good senior competitor,” Hiwatashi commented. ” I was not able to do that tonight. I will work on that. I need to get ready for next season.”
Koshiro Shimada (212.78) came in ninth, while Tatsuya Tsuboi (195.88) was 14th.
Russian senior champion Anna Shcherbakova, who will turn 15 later this month, grabbed the lead in the women’s event after the short program with 72.86.
Shcherbakova holds a narrow lead over defending world junior champion and compatriot Alexandra Trusova (72.49), who is in second place.
American Ting Cui (67.79) was third going into Saturday’s free skate.
Yuna Shiraiwa (62.08) is sixth, while Tomoe Kawabata (57.65) is ninth.
Japan junior champion Yuhana Yokoi (51.61) stands in 18th place.
In other skating action, Mai Mihara holds the lead following the short program at the Winter Universiade in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, with a tally of 75.92.
Mihara’s teammate Hina Takeno (67.69) is in third place heading into Saturday’s free skate.