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2022 World Championships: Women Free Skate

by Klaus-Reinhold Kany


(26 March 2022)  In spite of the absence of the three Russians, the ladies competition at the World Championships 2022 in Montpellier, France, had a relatively good level. Skaters from other countries had a chance to win medals. But nobody tried a quad jump.

Kaori Sakamoto from Japan, bronze medal winner at the Olympic Games in February 2022, is the new World Champion, winning 236.09 points and skating to “No More Fight Left in Me“ by Armand Amar and to “Tris“ by Ellie Goulding. Her first element in the free program was an outstanding double Axel which had seven GOEs of +5, followed by seven triple jumps. The first one was a triple Lutz which got a small edge warning (!), but was otherwise very good. The six other triples with or without combination were excellent, the spins and step sequences outstanding. The latter even had several GOEs of +5. Her components were around 9.5.

She said, “I feel that this medal has a very precious meaning to me, It was the hardest month I have ever had, but this experience is something that only those who have competed in the Olympics and the World Championships can make, So it was a great experience to have it this time. I am very happy that I was able to overcome this challenge because I don't think there is anything tougher than this in the future. It was the last time I performed this program in this season, so I felt it was a really good end to the season.“

Loena Hendrickx from Belgium won the silver medal with 217.70 points, the first World medal in single skating in the history of the Belgian federation. In spite of still suffering from pain in the groin area which began the week after the Olympic Games, she gave the most powerful and also most elegant performance of her career up to now. Her coach and brother Jorik Hendrickx and her choreographer Adam Solya changed her from being mainly a jumper to an elegant 22-year-old lady within a year. Her components rose from 6.5 or 7 to around 9.0 in Montpellier. Skating to a medley of Oriental music pieces, she opened her program with a combination of triple Lutz and an (under-rotated)  triple toe loop. The two triple flips and the triple Salchow were very good, the two double Axel as well, and the second the triple Lutz was almost under-rotated (q). Her spins were outstanding, the stellar step sequences even had several GOEs of +5.

She commented, “I’m speechless and super happy, all my hard work paid off. To stand here with the silver medal is unbelievable and I’m so proud I can do it for myself and also for Belgium. I had a really hard time going into these Worlds. I had a lot of pain, but I wanted to show one last time that I can do it and finish my season strong. I didn’t want any pressure on me because I know I couldn’t train how I wanted, I know that there was something in me that said you can do it and I’m so proud of myself that I didn’t give up.”

U.S. skater Alysa Liu of Colorado Springs, U.S. champion in 2019 and 2020, moved up from fifth place to win the bronze medal with 211.19 points in her first international senior season. Skating to the Violin Concerto in D by Peter Tchaikovsky, her first element was an (under-rotated) triple Axel which got mainly GOEs of -1. But she was the only skater to perform a triple Axel which looked clean without watching slow motion. Six other triple jumps were very good, but the toe loop in her combination with the triple Lutz was also under-rotated. Her spins were excellent, her step sequences good. Her components had an average of 8.3.

She explained, “I’m still in shock. I think I did really good. I’m really proud of myself. I didn’t think I could do better than at the Olympics and I was like ‘it’s going to be hard to do it again at Worlds so soon after‘. I took a week off after the Olympics and trained really hard for the little time I had and it paid off.“

Reigning U.S. Champion Mariah Bell dropped from third to fourth place with 208.66 points. She skated to “Hallelujah“ by K.D. Lang and had five clean triple jumps in her program and a deeply landed and almost under-rotated triple Lutz, but she had no triple-triple combination. Her spins were excellent, the two step sequences as well. Her friendly skating style helped her to get components of around 8.7.

She commented, “I’m kind of mix of emotions, I'm really happy with myself, obviously you know this was a great group of ladies and I'm so honored to be fourth, but just for myself to know I had a few little things in the second half of that program where I got a little tentative. I have no plans to stop skating, but right now I'm just focusing on going home. We have the Stars on Ice tour, so I'm really excited to do that in the U.S. and then I'll just kind of take a little bit of time off and then see what next year brings.“

Young You from South Korea finished on sixth position with 204.91 points in spite of four under-rotated jumps. She also tried a triple Axel in the free program, but it looked not clean and was under-rotated. Anastasiia Gubanova from Georgia moved up from 14th place in the short program to sixth overall with seven good triple jumps and 196.61 overall points. The second South Korean skater Kaein Lee is seventh with 196.55 points. The third U.S. skater Karen Chen took eighth place with 192.51 points and only two clean triples, but four who were not clean. Ekaterina Ryabova from Azerbaijan sits ninth with 188.50 points and Nicole Schott from Germany finished in tenth place with 188.42 points.