Shoma Uno, 2022 World champion – and other highlights from Montpellier

What a journey 2021-2022 Season has been to Japan’s Shoma Uno: winning two bronze medals at the Olympics in Beijing, one in the team event, one in the individual event – and then having the best performance of the season in Monpellier, being crowned 2022 World champion.

As if his curriculum weren’t already impressive – silver medalist at 2018 Olympics, two-time World silver medalist (2017, 2018), 2019 Four Continents champion, to name just a few of his achievements.

But you know what?

Despite his impressive list of titles, medals, Shoma Uno stays humble and committed to one goal: to get better, to improve. To grow.

And that includes to continue to look up to top skaters, and learn from them, to aspire to become a role model for the young – and also show gratitude to those supporting him in good and bad.

One thing is sure: Shoma’s detailed answers in Montpellier, after the short, after the free, have been, to us, some of the highlights of the entire men’s event.

And his mindset, the journey he embarked on, with all the challenges, are as praiseworthy as his skating.

Just listen.


by Florentina Tone


Open, candid – that’s how Shoma Uno is both on and off the ice.

In the press conference room, after the short program at Worlds, he would entrust us all with what felt as a very honest answer, almost like a confession:

“I am a skater who did not have the final goal set on the Olympics. So I never actually had a specific goal for my skating career. But then I took part in my first Olympic Games and won a silver [in 2018 – n.ed.], and that actually made me feel like I needed to continue to prove myself with good results.

And I had said openly that I don’t want to be caught up in that mission, or statement that I have to continue to deliver results. But I was actually truly caught up in that – and it was really tough on me.

And when I was practicing, it wasn’t for a sense of achievement or for the joy of skating – it was out of a sense of mission, or more of a duty, that I was practicing.

And then, in 2019, by coincidence, it was also in France at the Grand Prix series [2018 Internationaux de France in Grenoble – n.ed.] I had a terrible performance. I made major mistakes and my standing dropped quite dramatically.

But then I realized that’s not the end.

And I realized it also looking at Yuma [Kagiyama] and how he grew to become such a great skater. I used to just look up to the top skaters, and focus, and practice every day. And that reminded me, once again, of that enthusiasm and energy I had.

And I also wanted to become a role model skater for others who are following behind me”.

Two days later, while skating and winning the first World champion title of his career – after taking silver in 2017 and 2018 – Shoma was asked if he was already thinking of repeating that feat in Saitama, at home Worlds, in 2023.

Another sincere take was just around the corner:

“I’ve answered this many times in interviews – I’m not very good at aiming to set a record, or to win a tournament or competition.

I’m not really good at competing that way.

And, of course, I hate to lose – but I’m not very good at skating just for myself. I wanted to win – and make sure that Stéphane and everybody around me who’s supporting me will be happy for me.

This season – and also looking back on the several seasons that I was really struggling and I didn’t even deliver results – there were people who were there for me, who supported me.

And especially when I was not doing well at all, not doing anything I wanted to do, there was this person who supported me through this whole process – who is my coach.

And I really wanted to make sure that I deliver something to him, and leave a good record.

So, of course, today’s win is something I’m overjoyed with”.

His joy, satisfaction in the Kiss and Cry was easily noticeable. Silver medalist Yuma Kagiyama would say:

“I was actually answering all these interviews, so today I wasn’t able to see Shoma’s performance. But then I got a glimpse of him really looking happy at the Kiss and Cry, and I’ve never seen him so happy and so full of emotions – so that made me realize that he put on a very good performance.

And, you know, I can’t speak for him, and I don’t dare to imagine that I know how hard it’s been for him, but I know that he overcame all those difficulties and challenges that made him, you know, be joyous at the Kiss and Cry today – and I’m sure this victory must mean a lot for him”.

Asked if he was planning to continue his competitive career until Milano-Cortina Games, in 2026, Shoma would say wholeheartedly:

“Well, to be honest, I have never aimed or skated having the Olympics as my goal. So I, myself, do not know what my goal is at this moment.

All I know is that I want to attain more growth next year and the year after that.

And along these lines of consecutive years of growth, I’m hoping maybe there could be a possibility that the Olympics might be there for me too”.


2022 World Figure Skating Championships
March 21-27, 2022
Montpellier, France


Gold: Shoma Uno, Japan
Silver: Yuma Kagiyama, Japan
Bronze: Vincent Zhou, USA

Men’s podium in Montpellier, at 2022 Worlds


Gold medalist: Shoma Uno

This happened in Montpellier, Shoma Uno happened: the Oboe Concertos SP is an absolute masterpiece, and Shoma skated it as one. What a moment! Watching Shoma skate is like you’re always opening new worlds.

“Regarding today’s performance, of course I’m very happy because I was able to perform exactly at the same level as I was training”, Shoma Uno said at the end of his short program. “This season has been another new start for my figure skating career, so I hope to show more of such growth to everyone”.

The audience lived and breathed with Shoma every step of the way, every second of the way, every glide, until that very last cantilever. And our hearts might have stopped here and there – that bold this Bolero program is – and now we are living the triumph together. Shoma Uno is a World Champion.

>>>READ MORE: Stéphane Lambiel: “I want Shoma to have no limits in his dreams”

Silver medalist in Montpellier: Yuma Kagiyama

Olympic silver medalist Yuma Kagiyama – and his elastic knees – is so, so satisfying to watch: there’s this sense of lightness, smoothness in everything he does on the ice, in the way he moves. He’s a natural born talent, no doubt about it.

Yuma Kagiyama’s Gladiator free program has been designed to be exactly that, a momentum, and bring people on their feet – and it happened exactly that in Montpellier. And Yuma can be tiny, but he skates big and he has a majestic way of carrying himself across the ice. We’re in awe.

Yuma, on getting the silver medal at Worlds again: “Last year I won this silver medal without having too much thought. I was just there – of course I was happy to win the silver, but I really didn’t think much about winning or delivering good results.

This season, however, has been a very long and dense one. And during the beginning of this season, nothing went well for me. I lost my own way of skating. I was struggling with my jumps, so I was kind of lost in this whole process.

But throughout the season, I started to realize what I needed to do and I was able to have a clear vision of my goal, and I revisited that goal.

So, step by step, through this journey, I was able to overcome a lot of obstacles. And, at the end, here’s the silver medal – and, of course, there are a lot of regrets. Maybe I could’ve done better. But, at the same time, I had a sense of achievement of what I have done, and I think it’s a new step forward for my next season”.

Bronze medalist in Montpellier: Vincent Zhou

No dry eye in the house after watching Vincent Zhou skate to Vincent. This young man loves figure skating – and deserves all the best in the world. Thank you, Vincent, for that gift of a skate.

…as if the crowd in Montpellier collectively held hands to support Vincent and elate him, rise him when needed, after the difficult journey this season has been for him. Vincent needed closure, needed a redemptive skate after Beijing, and he gave himself that. He gave us that.

“Vincent, well done!”, someone in the audience shouts. We’re all that someone.

Remember, Vincent tested positive at the Olympics in Beijing and didn’t get to skate at all – he spent his days in isolation, and felt tremendous sorrow that his Olympics dreams had been shattered.

It was indeed a turmoil – during the Olympics and afterwards, he’d say in the press conference in Montpellier: “Well, the COVID itself wasn’t that bad, but the mental hell I went through afterwards was infinitely worse than anything COVID could do to me.

I think about 11 or 12 days ago I woke up in this bottomless pit. I called my agent and my coaches and some important people I’m close to and told them that I felt like my whole career has been a failure and has been for nothing. And I just thought I couldn’t do it.

The one thing that got me here to France was the feeling inside me that I didn’t want to live the rest of my life with the regret that I didn’t even try.

And so that was the only thing that I guess kept me somehow invested in my step-by-step journey of coming here, getting on the plane first, and getting on the ice here, and taking it day by day.

So this medal definitely was very, very difficult for me to come by, and it’s definitely one of the most meaningful and significant moments in my career”.

4th: Morisi Kvitelashvili, Georgia

A strong performance from Morisi Kvitelashvili to emotional music, “Tout l’univers” by Gjon’s Tears. When Eurovision meets #WorldFigure.

This right here is Morisi Kvitelashvili’s best season of his career – and he really feeds with the energy of the audience at 2022 Worlds while skating to music by Frank Sinatra.

5th: Camden Pulkinen, USA

What a World debut from Camden Pulkinen – what an emotional, free, fluid skate to music from the movie “Moulin Rouge!”.

A fantastic free skate from Camden Pulkinen in Montpellier, we could watch him all day. Today’s resolution: to have Camden skate in every event like he skated at Worlds.

6th: Kazuki Tomono, Japan

You can always count on Kazuki Tomono to deliver a flowing, beautiful performance – and he looks so happy when heading for the boards after that short program in Montpellier.

Third after the short program in Montpellier, he would say with a smile in the press conference room: “It was a last minute decision that I would take part at Worlds, but ever since I heard the news, I have tried to remain calm and focused. (…) Actually, this is my fifth time I was a replacement [in competition], my fifth competition coming out of the blue as a second alternate”.

We’re feeding with Kazuki Tomono’s enthusiasm every time he is on the ice, watching him skate to “La La Land” is one of our absolute joys – but he needed to be cleaner. He made up for the mistakes with the enthusiasm, but that wasn’t enough scoring-wise. A nervy free skate, he felt the pressure.

7th: Daniel Grassl, Italy

Daniel Grassl – into 5th with this short program to music from “The White Crow”, choreo. by Benoît Richaud

Daniel Grassl, skating to music by Hans Zimmer and Aerosmith in his long program

8th: Adam Siao Him Fa, France

You could cut the intensity in Adam Siao Him Fa’s Star Wars short program with a knife – he sold that program to the fingertips, we loved it, the audience lived it!

What. A. Performance from Adam Siao Him Fa on home soil at Worlds – no, but what a performance, having people cheering, clapping through and through – and standing up at the end. What a performer he is.

9th: Ilia Malinin, USA

In case you were doubting, Ilia Malinin is champion-material! A jaw-dropping short program from Ilia, in his debut at Worlds – and that’s how you start a senior career.

A lot of curiousity, anticipation surrounding Ilia Malinin’s debut at Worlds. How did he respond? With a courageous long program, and some text-book jumps. He grew tired towards the end, lost the energy – but what a debut this is, what a talent he is. He needed that experience. Don’t be too harsh on yourself, Ilia – this is just the beginning.

10th: Matteo Rizzo, Italy

You can tell Matteo Rizzo loves to skate to Maneskin – he brought his SP back for Worlds, and he skated it brilliantly. The audience was on fire.

This free skate has been such a good companion to Matteo Rizzo all throughout the season – and Matteo brings the best of it. Watching him skate, eyes are always happy: beautiful lines and movements with a purpose.

11th: Kévin Aymoz, France

Kévin Aymoz was just fantastic, then he popped the Axel, then he was fantastic again. Silvia Fontana’s reactions through and through? Priceless. This team is such a good team.

“I fight till he end”, the song says, and Kévin Aymoz does just that, flying and floating on air, as if the entire audience carried him on its wings. Errors or not, that was an emotional skate from Kévin in Montpellier.

12th: Roman Sadovsky, Canada

Roman, skating to “Exogenesis Symphony. Part 3: Redemption” by Muse in the short program at Worlds – and this music carries him beautifully across the ice.

Roman Sadovsky – skating to “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol in the free.

13th: Deniss Vasiljevs, Latvia

What a terrific short program for Deniss Vasiljevs, a bubble of beauty and intensity, with those staccato movements towards the end. And what a terrific day for Stéphane Lambiel, coach to both Shoma and Deniss, a victorious fist in the air at the end of this emotional marathon.

Watching Deniss Vasiljevs skate is like watching a work of art being made in front of your eyes – with him, it is always about the performance itself, with him you are always thrilled with what you get to see. And this time was no different – this program keeps you glued.

14th: Keegan Messing, Canada

Keegan Messing is not here to play – though, in a sense, you feel he’s almost skating in his backyard, that relaxed he is, that smooth, that playful his skating feels to the eye. Always in awe with his speed.

Keegan Messing, cheek to cheek with the ice – we will never get tired of it. Behind the boards, Matteo Rizzo offers a good round of applause too.

15th: Mihhail Selevko, Estonia

Estonia’s Mihhail Selevko skating to Nothing Else Matters by Metallica in his SP at Worlds

16th: Vladimir Litvintsev, Azerbaijan

Vladimir Litvintsev, fists in the air when landing his last jump – then giving it all while skating to Rachmaninov. What an elegant skater – we won’t get tired saying it.

Vladimir Litvintsev skating to music from “Joker” in his free skate at Worlds

18th: Sihyeong Lee, South Korea

Sihyeong Lee skating to “Prince Igor” by Alexander Borodin in the short…

…and to “Carmen Suite” by Rodion Shchedrin in the free

23rd: Ivan Shmuratko, Ukraine

Ivan Shmuratko – what an emotional short program, people on their feet to give him all the love and support in the world. …and that’s why Oleksandra Nazarova and Maksym Nikitin almost ran from their practice session in Vegapolis, another rink in town, to accompany Ivan at the boards here in the main arena. Hats off to the team they are.

Skating his long program to “Nuvole bianche” by Ludovico Einaudi

WD after SP: Junhwan Cha, South Korea

2022 Worlds were not Junhwan Cha’s event – he came to Montpellier with a broken boot, skated his short program to “Fate of the Clockmaker”, and then retired from the free. That doesn’t make him a lesser champion – remember, Junhwan is 2022 Four Continents champion – and we can’t wait to see him come back hungry for more.

[All photos by Alberto Ponti, Montpellier
Intro and selection by Florentina Tone]


Pairs at 2022 Worlds in Montpellier: a photo-story

Kaori Sakamoto’s triumph at Worlds. Photo-highlights from the women’s event

2022 Worlds in Montpellier: a celebration. Relive it through photos.


Stéphane Lambiel: “I want Shoma to have no limits in his dreams”

Stéphane Lambiel: “Do it. Show us your colours!”