Kaori Sakamoto three-peats at figure skating worlds; Isabeau Levito wins first medal

Japan's Kaori Sakamoto rebounded from fourth place after the short program to become the first woman to win three figure skating world titles since American Peggy Fleming in 1968.

At 17 years old, Isabeau Levito won her first world championship medal – silver — 10.8 points behind and one year after finishing fourth.

That's the best finish for an American woman since Ashley Wagner came in second in 2016. In 2006, Kimmie Meissner became the last American woman to win a world title.

Loena Hendrickx of Belgium, who skated after Sakamoto and Levito, crashed on a triple flip and did not perform a triple-triple leap combination. 

Following Wednesday's brief race, Hendrickx led Levito by 3.25 seconds. Sakamoto, who was undefeated this season, finished 3.69 seconds behind Hendrickx after a tiny leaping error and a slip late in her short.

Sakamoto, 23, triumphed under pressure as the clear favorite in 2022, with no Russians in the competition. In 2023, she triumphed despite the pressure of skating at home in Japan.

Then, on Friday night, she won a come-from-behind victory over a world-class field for the first time, despite having to skate before the rest of the top women.

Their results have to sum up to no more than 13 to secure the United States' maximum three slots in the 2025 Worlds in Boston. They did it with a combined 12 (second and tenth).

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