There is always a changing of the guard at any post-Olympic World Championships, but this week’s event in Montpellier, France is taking place amidst the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
When is it on?
Worlds begins Wednesday, 23 March with the women’s short programme and concludes Sunday, 27 March with the exhibition gala.
Who is skating?
A combination of withdrawals due to injury, China’s decision not to send a team and Russia’s ban from international sport means only five of the medal winners in the individual Olympic events from Beijing last month will skate in Montpellier.
Despite the absence of both Nathan Chen (USA) and Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN), the men’s category looks set to be another battle between Japan and the United States. Following his Olympic silver in Beijing, Yuma Kagiyama is the favourite to claim a first World title. He will be pressed by teammate Shoma Uno (JPN) and 2019 World bronze medallist Vincent Zhou (USA). Many eyes will be on the senior ISU championship debut of Ilia Malinin (USA), while 2022 European medallists Daniel Grassl (ITA) and Deniss Vasiljevs (LAT) and 2022 Four Continents medallist Junhwan Chan (KOR) will also be vying for the podium.
The women’s event has been thrown wide open with no Russian athletes present. Beijing Olympic bronze medallist Kaori Sakamoto (JPN) has the highest season best score (233.13) of those in Montpellier. Her compatriot Wakaba Higuchi (JPN) has experience of standing on the rostrum at a post-Olympic Worlds four years in Milan, Italy. Alysa Liu (USA), Loena Hendrickx (BEL) and Young You (KOR) are just some of the other names that could potentially cap their season with a World medal.
China and Russia have dominated the pairs event over the past decades so this year’s Worlds will give other nations a chance to shine. Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier (USA) have the highest season best total of the pairs who will be at Worlds (212.68). The last time an American pair won a World medal was in 2002. Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara (JPN) will take heart from the fact that the only previous time Japan won a pairs medal at World was when they were held in Nice, France in 2012. Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc (USA) and Vanessa James and Eric Radford (CAN) will also be in the hunt for medals.
Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) will be the only Olympic champions from Beijing at Worlds and will be seeking to crown a glorious season with another victory in front of their home crowd. The ice dance podium looks like it will filled out by the French team’s training partners from the Ice Academy of Montreal Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue (USA) and Madison Chock and Evan Bates (USA). 2021 World bronze medallists Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier (CAN) will be aiming for the rostrum again after a slightly disappointing performance in Beijing.
Everything you need to know (and some things you did not) about the skaters, the competition schedule and results can be viewed here.
When is the skating on?
The evening/middle of the night if you are in Asia, at a suitable hour in Europe and very early in North America. The times listed for the World Championships are local and if you want to know what the time difference is between where you are and Montpellier then this link is your friend.
Where can I watch the pretty skaters?
The wonderful and very helpful people at the ISU have compiled a handy guide as to where you can view this season’s European Championships in a whole host of countries and territories. For everyone else, there is the ISU Skating YouTube channel.
What are the hashtags?
#WorldFigure #UpAgain #FigureSkating