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Ilia Malinin wins first world figure skating title with historic six quadruple jumps

Ilia Malinin won his first world title by landing the best collection of jumps in one program in figure skating history.

The 19-year-old American performed a quadruple Axel, quad Lutz, quad loop, quad Salchow, another quad Lutz (in combination with a triple flip), a quad toe loop (in combo with a triple toe), plus tacked on a triple Lutz-triple Axel combo to end his unprecedented four-minute free skate.

He became the second man to land six quads in one skate after 2022 Olympic champion Nathan Chen, but Chen didn’t land all six clean and never tried a quad Axel, the hardest quad.

“When I got into the starting position, I knew that this could be the best skate of my life, or it could go terribly wrong,” said Malinin, who had planned six quads in a free skate in previous competitions without landing them all clean.


He broke Chen’s world record free skate score (with 227.79 points) and totaled 333.76 points between two programs, distancing Olympic silver medalist Yuma Kagiyama of Japan by 24.11.

“The past few weeks have been such a mental and physical challenge for me to get through,” Malinin said, repeating his revelation from after Thursday’s short program, where he placed third. “I was even debating whether or not to come to the world championships.”

Malinin had positive grades of execution on every jumping pass. He is the only skater to ever land a clean, fully rotated quad Axel, doing so seven times in full competition over the last two seasons.

“I didn’t even realize what was going on (while skating),” he said. “I was just flying through the program.”

He capped a rapid rise to the top of the sport: from ninth in his senior worlds debut in 2022 to third last year and now gold.

Malinin had a skate for the ages in arguably the most important skate of his life — going last at the world championships.

Before that, Kagiyama had a near-flawless free skate with three quads until he fell after landing a huge triple Axel.

“I will be competing for years to come against (Malinin),” the 20-year-old Kagiyama said, according to a translator. “When I see him at the next competition, if we both perform at our 100% ability, I don’t think that I will be able to win against him. ... I’ll be working on my skating skills and to acquire GOEs (grades of execution) on all of my elements so as to be able to catch up to him.”

France’s Adam Siao Him Fa leaped from 19th after the short program to win bronze.

He entered the event ranked third in the world this season by best total score and landed four quads in his free skate, plus an illegal back flip that cost him a two-point deduction (but didn’t affect his final standing). He also performed a back flip in winning January’s European Championships.

Two-time defending champion Shoma Uno of Japan dropped from first after the short program to fourth overall.

In the free skate, he fell on his opening quad loop and put a hand on the ice to save two other jump landings. Uno matched his lowest finish in his last nine Olympic or world championship appearances.

He was followed by two-time U.S. Olympian Jason Brown, who was once again the top man without a quad jump.

The 29-year-old elder statesman had the highest artistic score (his trademark) and had one total jump error between two programs — a popped Axel late in his free skate.

With Isabeau Levito’s silver from Friday, the U.S. had a top-two finisher in the men’s and women’s events at the same worlds for the first time since 2003 (Michelle Kwan, Timothy Goebel).

It’s the first time a teenage American woman and teenage American man made the podium at the same worlds since 1991 (Kristi Yamaguchi, Todd Eldredge) and the first time U.S. male and female teens were both in the top two since 1968 (Peggy Fleming, Tim Wood).

With Madison Chock and Evan Bates’ gold from earlier Saturday, the U.S. won two titles at a single worlds for the first time since 1996 (Kwan, Todd Eldredge).

The next figure skating season is expected to begin in earnest with the start of the Grand Prix Series in October.

Malinin has teased the idea of going for the first quintuple jump in competition. He could try to land all six different types of quads in one free skate.

What is next for the aptly self-nicknamed “Quadg0d?”

“I guess we’ll have to find out; I’ll leave it for a surprise,” he told the crowd at the Bell Centre. “But you guys have to stay looking forward to next season.”

Madison Chock and Evan Bates repeated as world champions and went undefeated this season.