Javier Fernandez wins upset World Championship; top American fourth

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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.

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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.”

RELATED: U.S. women rebound in free skate, but medal drought continues

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.

Men’s Results
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

Elizaveta Tuktamysheva ponders quad after dominant Worlds

Nathan Chen prepared to capture third national title

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Nathan Chen called into his media teleconference from the rink last week, still on his winter break between his freshman semesters at Yale University.

The signal wasn’t great inside, he said, and it momentarily spared him from answering a direct question about his GPA his first semester as a college student.

Back on the call, the reigning world champion admitted, “I’m not gonna say the exact number, but there are some A’s and B’s sprinkled in.

“Really no complaints. I got pretty good grades. I’m pretty happy with that.”

His skating report card from the fall reads equally as impressively. Chen won the title at Skate America to open the season, followed by a come-from-behind win at Grand Prix France. To cap it all off, he won a second-consecutive Grand Prix Final title.

All this while the 2018 Olympic team event bronze medalist is across the country from his longtime coach Rafael Arutunian and trying out telecoaching for the first time.

Back in California between semesters, Chen said Raf has asked him to stay full-time.

“Since the past two weeks that I’ve been here, literally every day he’s been like, ‘you gotta come back! You gotta come back! There’s so much that you can learn at the rink. I respect what your decision is at Yale but it’s been so great having you here.’ He really wishes that I could stay here full time but at the same time, I already started this path and I don’t really want to pull out just yet.”

As for his second semester in college, Chen is signed up for about 10 courses and will have about two weeks at the beginning of term to add and drop courses. He’ll be in classes – he’s not exactly sure which, though – for a week before attempting to notch his third-straight U.S. national title.

“I selected a bunch of courses, probably selected like 10 different courses. I’ll go in and the first week I will see which courses I like, which courses I don’t like.”

Competing during the spring semester might be harder. February’s Four Continents Championships, this year to be held in Anaheim, Calif., aren’t during a scheduled academic break. Conveniently, world championships are scheduled during Yale’s spring break.

“I’m not sure yet [if he’ll compete there if named to the team],” he said. “That’s still TBD. I would love to since it’s in California, and it’s a great event. We’ll see.”

But for now, competing well in Detroit is the next step.

“I have to skate as well as I can and regardless of the external things,” he said when asked if coming in as the reigning world champion or as the favorite affects him. “Just focus on all the things that I can do right now in training to make sure that I do the best I can in competition.”

The men’s short program is Jan. 26 followed by the free skate on Jan. 27.

MORE: Adam Rippon’s new year’s resolutions

As a reminder, you can watch the U.S. Championships live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

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Mikaela Shiffrin wins Kronplatz giant slalom for her 10th win of the season

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Mikaela Shiffrin won the women’s giant slalom at the World Cup stop in Kronplatz, Italy, on Tuesday, marking her 10th victory of the 2018-19 season and 53rd World Cup win of her career. Shiffrin, the 2018 Olympic giant slalom gold medalist, led France’s Tessa Worley by 1.39 seconds after the first run. Although Worley outpaced Shiffrin in the second run, Shiffrin’s massive first-run margin allowed her to win the two-run event by 1.21 seconds. Italy’s Marta Bassino placed third. Full results are here. 

Shiffrin entered Kronplatz ranked third in the World Cup giant slalom standings, but moves into first place with the win. The 23-year-old also leads the overall World Cup leader board, as well as the slalom and super-G discipline standings. Shiffrin has won seven World Cup globes in her career (two overall, five slalom).

Shiffrin has already broken multiple records this season, including becoming the youngest skier to win 50 World Cup races, and there are still more records within striking distance. Shiffrin could break the record for most World Cup wins in a single seasons; the current record (14) was set by Switzerland’s Vreni Schneider in 1988-89.

The next stop for the women’s World Cup is this weekend in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, with two downhills scheduled for Friday and Saturday, and a super-G slated for Sunday. Shiffrin plans to skip the downhills, but enter the super-G. Lindsey Vonn, who missed the start of the season with a knee injury, is expected to make her return to competition in Friday’s downhill.