Olympic silver medalist Shoma Uno seized the men’s title at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships Saturday with the highest-scoring free skate of the season.
Japan’s Uno, fourth after the short program, produced three quadruple jumps in an assured free skate to the music of Beethoven that garnered 197.36 points, his total of 289.12 putting him 15.61 points ahead of Jin Boyang of China.
The victory is a breakthrough for the reigning Japanese champion. In addition to his 2018 Olympic silver medal behind compatriot Yuzuru Hanyu, Uno is a two-time world championships silver medalist.
And the 21-year-old took bronze and silver at the Four Continents the past two years.
With the world championships coming up in March in Saitama, Uno’s win gave Japan a sweep of the individual titles after 16-year-old Rika Kihira won the ladies’ gold on Friday to continue her unbeaten run through her first senior-level season.
Jin, third after the short program, earned 181.34 points in the free skate to finish second with a total of 273.51.
American Vincent Zhou, who led after the short, was charged with under-rotating some of his jumps in a free skate that earned 172.04 and left him in third place on 272.22.
Earlier Saturday, former world champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong of China returned to international competition with a narrow victory in the pairs competition, edging Canadians Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro.
The Chinese duo, back on the international stage for the first time since winning the silver medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics, went into the final free skate trailing the Canadian leaders by less than a point.
With a free skate score of 136.92, they topped the free skate by a similar margin to win with a total of 211.11 points.
Moore-towers and Marinaro, the reigning Canadian champions who took silver at the 2013 Osaka Four Continents and team silver at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, finished with a total of 211.05 points.
Another Chinese pair, Peng Cheng and Jin Yang, earned bronze with 205.42 points.
The victory confirms Sui and Han as contenders for gold at the World Championships in Japan in March.
They were unable to defend the 2017 world title they won in Helsinki when Sui was diagnosed with a stress fracture in her right foot after the Pyeongchang Winter Games last year.
Sui said they have plenty of room for improvement.
“We were pretty nervous,” Sui said. “I’m really happy we could show what we have today on the ice, but honestly this was not the best of us. We will do the best we can and continue training hard.”