April 24th, 2024

Japan’s Sakamoto three-peats as women’s figure skating world champion

By Daniel Rainbird, The Canadian Press on March 22, 2024.

Kaori Sakamoto of Japan performs her free skate in the women's competition during the 2024 ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Montreal, Friday, March 22, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

MONTREAL – Kaori Sakamoto of Japan is the first women’s figure skater to three-peat as world champion since American Peggy Fleming from 1966 to 1968.

Sakamoto captured gold again Friday at the Bell Centre, climbing from fourth place after the short program to the top of the podium with a near-flawless performance.

The 23-year-old led the pack by more than 10 points in the free program to finish with 222.96 points and earn a standing ovation from the 6,000 fans on hand.

Isabeau Levito of the United States – a 2022 world junior champion – claimed silver (212.16) for her first medal at a senior worlds. Chaeyeon Kim of South Korea took bronze (203.59).

Belgium’s Loena Hendrickx placed first in the short program Wednesday, but slipped to fourth after missing her rotation on a double lutz, triple-toe loop combination and subsequently falling on a triple flip.

Madeline Schizas of Oakville, Ont., was 18th (171.78). Schizas needed a top-10 finish to earn Canada a second women’s spot at next year’s worlds.

Earlier Friday, defending ice dance champions and 2022 Olympic gold medallists Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the United States finished first with a season-best 90.08 in the rhythm dance. Italy’s Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri were second (87.52) ahead of Toronto’s Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier of Unionville, Ont.

Gilles and Poirier won their second world championship bronze last year.

Marjorie Lajoie of Boucherville, Que., and Zachary Lagha of Saint-Hubert, Que., posted a season-best 83.20 while skating to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” to rank fifth.

Competition ends Saturday with the free dance and the men’s free program.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 22, 2024.

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