Nathan Chen of the United States won the men's singles figure skating gold medal Thursday at the Beijing Winter Games with a combined score of 332.60, bringing to an end Japanese great Yuzuru Hanyu's eight-year reign as Olympic champion.
While Hanyu finished just off the podium in fourth with a 283.21 total, Japan still had reason to celebrate at Capital Indoor Stadium after 18-year-old Olympic debutant Yuma Kagiyama claimed silver with 310.05 points, while compatriot Shoma Uno scored 293.00 to take bronze.
Chen's outstanding free skate earned him 218.63 for the segment and capped off a dominant stretch for the three-time world champion, who had been expected to battle for gold four years ago, but dramatically flamed out in the short program to finish fifth.
Chalking up that disaster as a "learning experience," the 22-year-old American has since been virtually unbeatable in international competition, with an individual Olympic medal the only prize eluding him.
"It means the world. I'm just so happy," said Chen, who scored a world record 113.97 points for his short program two days earlier. "It's a whirlwind right now. I had a blast out there."
The newly crowned champion completed his free skate without a hitch, starting with a quadruple flip-triple toe loop combination and nailing four other quad jumps.
Kagiyama continued his impressive debut on the sport's biggest stage after helping Japan win team bronze.
Coached by his former Olympian father Masakazu, the 2021 world championship silver medalist broke the 200-point barrier in the free skate for the second time in his career, scoring 201.93 with another accomplished routine.
He left points on the table on a quad loop, but was otherwise locked in, hitting three other quad jumps, including a salchow and a toe loop.
"This silver medal is packed with everything I've been putting in over the past few years, while having the Olympics as my dream," said Kagiyama, who became just the third person after Hanyu and Chen to receive more than 200 free skate points by scoring 208.94 in the team event.
"Unlike the team event and the short program, I got nervous in these games for the first time, knowing that this free skate was the final performance here."
Aiming to become the first three-time Olympic figure skating gold medalist in 94 years, Hanyu came into Thursday's free skate ranked eighth following an uncharacteristic mishap in the short program two days earlier, when he caught a hole in the ice and popped his initial quad salchow attempt.
The 27-year-old superstar, who received the loudest cheers of the day inside the sparsely filled arena, scored 188.06 for his free skate to total well below his personal best of 322.59.
He under-rotated his opening quadruple axel attempt, falling to the ice and failing to become the first skater to land the jump in competition. He also fell attempting a quad salchow but hit two other quad jumps and two triple axels during his routine.
"Honestly, I did everything within my power," said Hanyu, who missed half the season with ankle ligament damage and has spent much of the period between Olympics battling injuries. "There's a part of me that feels (the podium) was within reach, but all you saw is all I've got."
"Of course not making a mistake is important and I understand that's the only way to win but in a way, those two early mistakes completed my (free skate) program. I tried really hard and I don't think I could've done more."
Pyeongchang silver medalist Uno, who was third after the short program, garnered 187.10 for his polished free skate. He missed a quad flip, but stuck four other quad jumps, including a quad toe loop-double toe loop combination.
"I'm very happy to have performed at the Olympics after so many things happening in the past four years and managing to come third," said the 24-year-old, who also won team bronze.
"My (performance) level will rise if I continue with these components and training, and I believe it might be possible even to compete in the position where Nathan is right now."
Shoma Uno of Japan competes in the men's figure skating free skate at the Beijing Winter Olympics on Feb. 10, 2022, at the Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo