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Trading faceoffs for artistry: A world figure skating championships recap

By Andreea Timis, April 22 2024—

It is a truth universally acknowledged that in Canada, hockey casts a towering shadow over basically every other sport. It even attracts the attention of non-hockey fans, who are drawn by its “Canadian” essence and the chaos that ensues. As a result, lesser-known sports like figure skating are practically left in the dust. However, this year’s championships — held at the Bell Center in Montreal — attracted over 300 million viewers and the arena was packed with excited fans who came to support skaters from all four disciplines. So, let’s take a moment to trade those hockey sticks for figure skates as we navigate the bittersweet experience of this world championship. 


The pairs were the first to receive their medals at worlds this year, and a booming roar echoed throughout the arena upon learning that Canadian skaters Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps were the gold medalists. Their dynamic performances in the short and free programs dazzled the audience, and to win in their home country this far in their career was an achievement beyond their expectations. The runner-ups were last year’s world champions, Japanese skaters Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara. Although the depth and fluidity of their program helped them win the free skate, the Canadians’ four-point advantage in the short program was enough to keep them in the lead. The bronze medalists this year were Germany’s Minerva Fabienne Hase and Nikita Volodin, winners of the 2023 Grand Prix Final in Beijing. 

Women’s singles

The biggest surprise by far in the women’s singles discipline this year was Belgian skater Loena Hendrickx’s fourth place. Two-time world medalist, Hendrickx falls off the podium this year after a shaky free program. Fans were unanimously assured of Hendrickx’s win this year, only to be devastated as she doubled out on two jumps and fell on another. Korea’s Chaeyeon Kim and USA’s Isabeau Levito take the bronze and silver medals, respectively, after cleanly skating both of their programs. In a delightful turn of events, this year’s gold medalist was Japanese skater Kaori Sakamoto, earning her third consecutive world title. Fans worried when she ended up in fourth place following mistakes in her short program – which, to her credit, she laughed off – but quickly relaxed when she came back strong in the free program, skating cleanly and with an unmatched dynamic. 

Ice dance

The ice dance competition was particularly fierce this year as couples pushed boundaries with their creativity and placed within a couple of points of one another. The short program – the rhythm dance – was particularly rough this year, while the free dance went amazingly for nearly all those who qualified. USA’s Madison Chock and Evan Bates defended their world title as they took the gold medal, with renowned Canadian ice dancers Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier right on their heels. Gilles and Poirier actually won the free dance, with a mesmerizing, emotional skate to the 1992 “Wuthering Heights” soundtrack. However, their third place in the short program prevented them from topping Chock and Bates, who had a four-point lead over them. The bronze medalists this year were Italian European champions Charlène Guignard and Marco Fabbri, who managed to deliver a clean skate despite a heart-stopping wardrobe malfunction suffered by Guignard in the free program. 

Men’s singles

The men’s event this year was by far the biggest emotional roller coaster out of all four disciplines. Fans’ hearts wept for Japan’s Shoma Uno and France’s Adam Siao Him Fa, who had a particularly rough competition. Adam Siao Him Fa has recently become one of the world’s top skaters and was this year’s European champion by a solid 20 points. To fans’ horror, he messed up all three of his jumps in the short program here at Worlds, which landed him in 19th place. He proceeded to redeem himself in the free skate with a sensational performance that earned him the bronze medal. In a contrasting parallel, fans were hoping to see Shoma Uno defend his world title for the third year in a row, as Kaori Sakamoto had done. To everyone’s shock, however, Uno ended up stumbling on a few of his jumps in the free skate and didn’t even make the podium. Humble as ever, Uno laughed at his mistakes and accepted his placement. The gold medalist for this year’s world championships was US representative Ilia Malinin. Malinin’s fame has recently skyrocketed as he made history by becoming the first and only person to ever land a quadruple Axel jump in competition. Not only did he land the quad Axel here at Worlds, but he landed a total of six quadruple jumps and a difficult triple-triple combination. He ended up setting a new world record for the highest free program score of 227.79, surpassing US skater Nathan Chen’s former record of 224.92. Malinin himself couldn’t believe it as he dropped to the ice clutching his head in shock. 

While figure skating could never compete with hockey in Canada, hosting the world championships in Montreal was a meaningful experience for fans and skaters, especially since the event at this same venue was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic. This year’s world championships were filled with ups and downs, and as this season comes to a close, we wish the skaters the best of luck next season and at the 2025 world championships in Boston.

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