SAITAMA - Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu added his first world figure skating crown to his Olympic gold medal Friday as he edged compatriot Tatsuki Machida by a less than a point in the free skate. Trailing in third spot 6.97 points behind short-programme leader Machida, the 19-year-old Hanyu scored 191.35 points in the final segment to finish on 282.59 points at the world championships in Saitama near Tokyo.
He was the second man from Japan and Asia to win a world title. Daisuke Takashi triumphed a month after grabbing the Vancouver Olympics bronze medal in 2010. Machida, 25, who grabbed the US and Russian Grand Prix titles but finished fifth at the Sochi Olympics this season, came in second with 282.26 on his world champion debut, with 184.05 points from the free skate.
Spain's double European champion Javier Fernandez ended third overall on 275.93 points for a second straight world bronze medal, slipping one place from the short programme. "I felt so glad," said Hanyu, who fell on his opening quadruple two nights ago. "There was a mistake in the short programme so that is why my overall score ended up as it is. Overall I did enjoy this competition," he said, adding his jumps were "still not perfectly consistent". "I would like to go back and practise more. I felt the responsibility to win this event." Hanyu nailed a difficult quadruple salchow in his opening element, followed by a clean quadruple toeloop and six triple jumps, three of them in combinations, wowing a roaring capacity home crowd at the 18,000-seat Saitama Super Arena.
Hanyu, who beat Canada's three-time world champion Patrick Chan at last month's Sochi Olympics and at the Grand Prix Final in December, also hit a maximum level-four in a step sequence and two spins, skating to the music of "Romeo and Juliet" by Nino Rota.
Chan, 23, opted not to defend his world title, saying he did not return to training so soon after the Olympics. Sochi bronze medallist Denis Ten of Kazakhstan also stayed home.
Hanyu was the only Sochi Olympic title-holder to compete in Saitama. The 2012 world bronze medallist became the second man to pull off a hat-trick of global honours. He was the first man since Russian Alexei Yagudin in 2002 to compete for a world title after winning the Olympic gold in the same season. Yagudin won both Olympic and world titles as well as the Grand Prix Final gold in the 2001-2002 season.
Machida, who won the US and Russian Grand Prix titles but finished fifth in Sochi, started two positions before Hanyu and scored a personal best as he did in the short. "I showed everything I had at this moment," he said. "I tried to perform without caring much about the score but it bothered me a lot and I had a really hard four-and-a-half minutes." Fernandez, 22, who trains with Hanyu in Toronto under Canadian coach Brian Orser, was the first skater from Spain to medal at the world or European championships. "I'm going to celebrate with my family, when I get back to Spain, because I haven't been in Spain since December."
In the ice dance, European ice dance champions Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte took a narrow lead after the short dance as they bid for their first global title. Dancing the quickstep and the foxtrot, the Italian duo collected 69.70 points, 0.50 points better than Canada's Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje. France's Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat, the 2011 and 2012 European champions, trailed in third place at 68.20 points, ahead of the final free dance on Saturday.