Vincent Zhou became the first U.S. singles skater to win a world junior title in four years on Thursday.
Zhou, a 16-year-old who took silver at the U.S. senior nationals in January, landed three quadruple jumps in his free skate to leap from fifth after the short program to take gold in Taipei, Taiwan.
Zhou trailed by 4.61 points after the short program, where he didn’t attempt a quad. He had the highest free skate score by 13.61 points.
Zhou’s total score — 258.11 points — ranks him 11th in the world this season among all skaters and fourth among Americans behind Nathan Chen (world-leading 307.46), Jason Brown (268.38) and Adam Rippon (267.53), the last three U.S. champions.
It’s easily the highest total score recorded by a skater that young under the 12-year-old points system, though scores have inflated as the years have gone on.
Though Zhou took a distant second to Chen at U.S. Nationals, the second and final spot on the U.S. team for worlds in two weeks went to Brown. Selection procedures look at recent international and national results, in addition to the U.S. Championships, and Zhou had never completed a full senior international competition.
The last American to win a world junior singles title was Joshua Farris in 2013. U.S. men have earned eight total medals at the last six junior worlds, despite taking zero senior Olympic or world medals in that stretch.
The last American woman to win a world junior title was Rachael Flatt in 2008.
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