Figure skating-Chen wins third straight world title as Hanyu falters

STOCKHOLM, March 27 (Reuters) - American Nathan Chen won the men’s singles gold for the third consecutive time at the figure skating world championships on Saturday as early favourite Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan fell short in Stockholm and finished third.

Hanyu was in the lead after the short program while Chen was third. But the 21-year-old American, who has not lost since the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in 2018, produced a breathtaking performance to bag his 10th consecutive international gold.

Chen began with a quadruple Lutz, which he had failed to land in the short program but executed perfectly in the free skate, and then produced four more quads to finish with a score of 320.88 points -- ahead of Japanese teenager Yuma Kagiyama in second.

“It’s amazing. The fact that we’re able to be at this worlds after this unprecedented year... I’m very elated, I’m very happy,” Chen said.

“I tried to remind myself to enjoy being here. I don’t know how many more worlds I’ll be at. In doing that, I was able to be a lot more calm. Going the way that it did, I’m very happy.”

Hanyu, a two-times world and Olympic champion, had a segment to forget after he put a hand down on the quad loop and quad Salchow, while his landing on the triple Axel was off-balance.

“He’s truly a skating legend and someone who’s just revolutionised this sport. He didn’t have the skate that I think he wanted to,” Chen added.

Hanyu’s performance was only good enough to finish fourth in the segment, and the Japanese had to settle for bronze with an overall score of 289.18.

His 17-year-old compatriot Kagiyama took the silver with a near-flawless performance and personal best score of 291.77.

Chen, who won in 2018 in Milan and 2019 in Saitama, had been deprived of the chance to make it three golds in three years when the world championships were cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson)