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Isabeau Levito delivers for her psyche, U.S. figure skating with world champs silver medal

MONTREAL — Isabeau Levito’s first world championships medal could not have come at a better time for herself and for U.S. figure skating.

When she took the ice Friday night, Levito needed to win a medal to give the U.S. women a third spot at the 2025 World Championships in Boston.

And, after getting second in Wednesday’s short program, a medal would be the perfect way to rebuild Levito’s recently shaken confidence.

“I had two goals for this world championships, getting on the podium and securing the third spot for the American women,” she said. “I did both. It was extremely satisfying.”

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It made no difference that she was a distant second to Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto, who became the first woman to win three consecutive world titles since Peggy Fleming of the U.S. in 1966 through 1968.

Sakamoto, 23, has taken command of women’s singles, her powerful jumps and effusive personality making a formidable combination. She went unbeaten in international competition this season.

No matter how the free skate performances of the two skaters after Levito eventually affected her finish, the 2023 U.S. champion had ended the season with two straight excellent skates after stumbling badly in her previous two competitions.

“I am very content to end the season this way,” Levito said. “I had a very rough season, and I was disappointed in myself. For a lot of the season, I was confused by how I was skating. To deserve a medal like this at the world championships is everything to me right now.”

Levito’s bug-eyed look of happy disbelief when the music stopped seemed to say she had surprised herself with the level of her skating.

“I was in a state of shock that I did that,” she said. “I was a little concerned after my warm-up. I didn’t feel like I did good in that, and I was a little scared I wouldn’t be able to do what I needed today. So, yes, I was in a little bit of disbelief after, but I was really happy.”

When short program winner Loena Hendrickx of Belgium and third-placer Lee Hae-In of South Korea both came apart, the 17-year-old Levito wound up in second by nearly nine points over another South Korean, Kim Chae-Yeon.

Sakamoto had 222.96 points to 212.16 for Levito and 203.59 for Kim.

Skating with a tempered elan and a cautious effectiveness to the understated soundtrack from the film, “White Crow,” Levito worked methodically through her four minutes on the ice.

Both her triple Lutz combinations wound up with slightly negative grades of execution. But she landed all the jumps, ticking them off unremarkably like items on a grocery list.

Because reigning U.S. champion Amber Glenn, the other American competitor, struggled in a free skate she opened with a successful triple Axel (like at nationals), Levito could finish no lower than third for the U.S. placements to stay inside the total (13) needed to get the third spot. Glenn wound up 10th.

“That wasn’t a stressor,” insisted Levito, who was fourth at worlds last year.

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