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Ilia Malinin set for world championships medals showdown after all-star short program

The men’s short program at the world figure skating championships lived up to the billing.

The sport’s three most accomplished active men — Japan’s Shoma Uno and Yuma Kagiyama and American Ilia Malinin — all delivered clean skates with two quadruple jumps each on Thursday in Montreal.

The free skate is Saturday, live on Peacock (starting at 6 p.m. ET) and NBC (starting at 8 p.m.).

Uno, the two-time reigning world champion, leads after a 107.72-point program that included a quad flip and quad toe loop-triple toe combination.

Japan's Uno leads worlds following short program
Looking to defend his world title for a third-straight year, Japan's Shoma Uno leads after the men's short program at the 2024 World Figure Skating Championships following a routine that yielded a score of 107.72 points.

FIGURE SKATING WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Kagiyama, the Olympic silver medalist who missed last year’s worlds in an injury-riddled season, trails by a mere 1.37 points after landing a quad Salchow and quad toe-triple toe combo.

Kagiyama sandwiched between Uno and Malinin
Yuma Kagiyama trails compatriot Shoma Uno by just 1.37 points following the men's short program at the 2024 World Figure Skating Championships and a routine that included a quad Salchow and quad toe-triple toe combo.

Malinin, the world’s top-ranked skater this season, landed a quad toe and a quad Lutz-triple toe combo and is 1.75 points behind.

He later said he had “a lot of injury, just a lot of doubt in my mind” in the few weeks before worlds and that it was unrelated to his skate boot problems going into January’s U.S. Championships.

“It was pretty hard mentally and physically for me,” Malinin said. “So it was a very tough time for me to want to skate, but I’m glad that I was able to decide to come to these worlds and to give it my all.”

The 19-year-old from Virginia had the highest jump scores of the field despite not trying a quad Axel, a jump that only he has ever landed. He has only attempted it once in any short program and has regularly tried it in the free skate at major competitions.

It’s the first time three men scored more than 105.90 points in the same short program in an international event, though scores have gradually gone up since the current points system was instituted in 2005.

Two-time U.S. Olympian Jason Brown was fourth (13.85 points back) as the lone man in the top seven without a quad.

Fellow American Camden Pulkinen placed 17th with a fall on a quad toe.

Worlds continue later Thursday with the pairs’ free skate at 6:10 p.m. ET on Peacock with USA Network coverage starting at 8.

Belgian Loena Hendrickx leads American Isabeau Levito at the world figure skating championships.