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Women’s short program at figure skating worlds produces tears, thrills

MONTREAL - Isabeau Levito, the 2023 U.S. champion, was deservedly thrilled by finishing second with a near flawless performance and a personal best score. Her compatriot, new U.S. champion Amber Glenn, was shocked by an error that left her ninth.

Belgium’s Leona Hendrickx was teary despite a dominant skate. And two-time defending world champion Kaori Sakamoto of Japan burst into a bemusedly goofy smile after two mistakes left her fourth, a whisker behind second.

Such were the highs and lows of the world championships women’s short program Wednesday night at the Bell Centre.

Hendrickx had 76.98 points to 73.73 for Levito, 73.55 for Lee Hae-In of South Korea and 73.29 for Sakamoto. Glenn had 64.53 after falling on her last of four jumps, a triple loop.

FIGURE SKATING WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

The free skate is Friday night.

“If I learned anything at nationals, it was that anything could happen,” Glenn said, referring to a victory that was more a comedy of errors by her and Levito, who finished third at January’s U.S. Championships. “I have kind of learned to not just throw in the towel. It’s just that you can get so down on yourself and so disappointed when you have been training so great, and then you go out there and fumble on something you never miss.”

Coming off her unraveling in the nationals free skate, Levito was so excited after her strong worlds short program she pounded the air repeatedly and smiled for most of the next five minutes.

“I’m still smiling now,” Levito said at the press conference nearly an hour after she finished. “I’m just really happy that I just took how I skated at nationals, didn’t let (it) bring me down and just focused on getting better. And I feel like I got a lot better now.”

Hendrickx, a world silver and bronze medalist the last two years, was provoked near tears by having performed so while dealing with a nagging hip injury.

“That was one of the big things,” she said. “Also, it’s not easy to compete a full season. At the end of the season, your body is to tired, and mentally you’re just as tired.”

Hendrickx’s short program is high energy and full of movements that border on the lubricious. She will go from a powerful jump to flirting with the judges.

It all fit together Wednesday, when she looked more a world beater than an athlete beaten down by injury and fatigue.

Philip Hersh, who has covered figure skating at the last 12 Winter Olympics, is a special contributor to