Javier Fernandez became the first Spaniard to win a World Figure Skating Championship, knocking off Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu in Shanghai on Saturday.
Fernandez, who grew up training on a Madrid ice rink that is now a restaurant, overcame a 2.46-point deficit from the short program to beat Hanyu by 2.82 after the free skate. Kazakhstan’s Denis Ten earned bronze (full results here).
“I still don’t believe it,” Fernandez said (video here of his interview). “To beat Yuzu, the Olympic champion, one time, is unbelievable. I don’t know if it’s going to ever happen again.”
U.S. champion Jason Brown was the top American in fourth, 19.43 points behind Ten, after taking ninth at the Sochi Olympics. That’s the best finish by a U.S. man since Evan Lysacek won gold in 2009.
Fernandez, 23, landed two quadruple jumps and fell on another in his free skate. Hanyu, too, fell on a quad attempt and landed no four-revolution jumps. He failed in a bid to become the first Japanese to repeat as World champion.
“Honestly speaking, I feel really, really frustrated,” Hanyu said, according to the Japan Times. “But right until the very, very end, I am happy I could give it my all on this rink — especially on this rink [where Hanyu suffered a scary warm-up collision in November].”
Fernandez came through to make history for his nation, which has won two Winter Olympic medals, both in Alpine skiing, the last in 1992.
At the Sochi Olympics, Fernandez fell from third place after the short program to fourth overall and said he felt sad he couldn’t bring a medal home for his country.
One month later, Fernandez won his second straight World Championships bronze medal and took silver at the Grand Prix Final in Barcelona in December. Hanyu, who shares a coach in two-time Olympic silver medalist Brian Orser, won both of those competitions.
On Saturday, Hanyu could be seen clapping for Fernandez when the Spaniard’s winning score came up. Fernandez covered the sides of his head in his hands in shock.
“We’re teammates; in the competition we’re still rivals,” Fernandez said. “Yuzu just told me that he was happy for me. He even dropped a couple of tears.”
The U.S. men finished fourth (Brown), eighth (Adam Rippon) and 11th (Joshua Farris). The top two U.S. men’s finishes needed to add up to 13 or fewer to keep three spots for the 2016 Worlds. Brown and Rippon’s finishes added up to 12.
Brown, 20 and the youngest U.S. champion since 2004, in his Worlds debut finished the highest of any man not doing quads.
“It’s crazy to be fourth in the world,” Brown said, according to U.S. Figure Skating. “I couldn’t ask for anything more right now. I skated the best that I could in those moments, and it’s nice to walk away as fourth in the world.”
Rippon, in his third Worlds appearance and first since 2012, improved from 11th after the free skate but had no quad or triple-triple jump combination Saturday.
“I felt free out there,” Rippon said, according to U.S. Figure Skating. “Maybe a little bit too free, making that mistake on the quad. I never gave up throughout the program. Coming away, I’m happy to be in the top 10.”
Farris, in his Worlds debut, moved up two spots to finish 11th. He fell on a quad attempt, two days after falling on a triple Axel in his short program.
Farris said he prepared for the free skate by crying a little bit with a coach after his 13th-place short program.
“I didn’t want to replicate what I’ve done in past competitions after a bad short program,” Farris said, according to U.S. Figure Skating. “It was far from perfect, but it was a step.”
The U.S. can enter three men at the 2016 World Championships in Boston. Brown, Rippon and Farris could be challenged for those spots by 2013 U.S. champion Max Aaron and four-time U.S. champion Jeremy Abbott, should Abbott continue competing.
Gold: Javier Fernandez (ESP) — 273.90
Silver: Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 271.08
Bronze: Denis Ten (KAZ) — 267.72
4. Jason Brown (USA) — 248.29
8. Adam Rippon (USA) — 229.71
11. Joshua Farris (USA) — 223.04