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Back on a world stage, Girdwood figure skater Messing continues to shine

  • Author: Beth Bragg
    | Sports
  • Updated: March 22
  • Published March 22

Girdwood’s Keegan Messing rotates during a successful jump in his short program Thursday at the World Championships. (Alessandro Bianchi / Reuters)

Apparently, the Winter Olympics were just a warmup for Girdwood figure skater Keegan Messing.

Messing put himself in medal contention at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Milan, Italy, by skating to sixth place in the short program with a personal-best score Thursday.

Messing, 26, finished an impressive 12th in his Olympic debut last month in South Korea, and he is off to an even better start in his World Championship debut.

Skating to "Singin' in the Rain," he cleanly landed all four of his jumps to earn 93.0 points, eclipsing his previous-best short-program score of 86.33, posted at a competition in September.

Messing opened with an explosive quadruple toe-triple toe combination jump, followed that with a perfect triple axel — the jump he fell on during his Olympic short program — and then made a triple lutz look easy late in the program.

When he finished, he punched the air with his fist while smiling from ear to ear.

"I came down on the lutz and I couldn't contain myself," he told reporters afterward. "It was almost like the heat was coming from within. I was just filled with joy going into the last spin, and I can say I don't think I've ever felt that in a program before.

"… After the spin it was just this surreal experience, and to do it on the world stage? That's probably the last time I do 'Singin' in the Rain,' and what a better way to put it out there."

The long program is Saturday.

Keegan Messing begins a combination spin in his short program Thursday at the World Championships in Italy. (Alessandro Bianchi / Reuters)

Leading the competition is Nathan Chen of the United States with a score of 101.94 — a huge result for the American, who was an Olympic medal favorite  before he blew his short program. Chen was 17th after a disastrous short program but came back with the best long program in Pyeongchang to shoot up to fifth place.

Completing the top five Thursday were Russia's Mikhail Kolyada (100.08), America's Vincent Zhou (96.78), China's Jin Boyang (95.85) and Japan's Shoma Uno (94.26).

Uno won the silver made at the Olympics, but the other two medal-winners aren't competing in Milan. Gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan, the defending world champion, has an ankle injury, and bronze medalist Javier Fernandez of Spain, the world champ in 2016 and 2015, decided to skip the competition.

The world championships come just a month after the Olympics, which for some skaters is too quick a turnaround. Messing, a dual U.S./Canadian citizen who competes for Canada, told reporters Thursday it's a challenge to do both.

"I had no idea it would be so difficult to get my body back up and going again after such a high at the Olympics," he said.

Keegan Messing skates to a personal-best score on Thursday’s short program at the World Championships.  (Alessandro Bianchi / Reuters)

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