Brian Boitano added a world championship to his Olympic gold medal Friday by winning the men’s title at the World Figure Skating Championships after Canadian Kurt Browning became the first skater to successfully complete a quadruple jump in competition.
Earlier, a charged-up Debi Thomas overcame the post-Olympic blues to win the women’s short program. But arch-rival Katarina Witt remained ahead in the race for the title, which will be decided in the long program tonight.
Boitano, of Sunnyvale, Calif., finished second in the long program to Canadian Brian Orser, the defending world champion, but that was enough for him to regain the world title. Soviet Viktor Petrenko was third.
Browning, 21, stole the show by completing the first quad in international skating competition.
Browning, who finished third in free skating to lift him to sixth overall, landed cleanly on one foot, although he had to do a turn on the ice to keep his balance.
“There’s no question I did it, none whatsoever,” Browning said. “It was one foot and four turns.”
International Skating Union officials, after watching taped replays, confirmed that the Canadian had indeed landed the quad.
Boitano, 24, also successfully completed the four rotations in the air but touched down with both feet instead of landing on one foot, as required.
“Unfortunately, I could not execute it perfectly,” Boitano said. “It was a little bit over-rotated. I am satisfied with my performance, however. I showed almost the maximum I could.”
He skated to music from the film, “Napoleon,” that showcased not only his near-quad, six triples and sky-high deathdrop, but his improved artistic skills, as well.
Witt and Thomas will meet for the final showdown as amateurs in the free skating after Thomas recovered from a poor showing in the compulsory figures to skate one of the best short programs of her career.
“This felt more like the old Debi than Calgary did,” Thomas said, referring to last month’s Winter Games, when she lost to Witt after missing several moves in her long program. “All the energy in the world was going into it and I was just having fun.”
Thomas, who turned 21 Friday, skated a jazzy, fast and clean program of disco music as she earned first-place marks from five of nine judges. Witt put on a sparkling presentation to a medley of Broadway tunes with her bright blue outfit that has caused controversy because of its skimpy cut.
Crowd-pleasing Midori Ito of Japan, airing her astonishingly high jumps, was third for the evening. Canadian Liz Manley finished fourth in the short program and switched places with Thomas in the overall standings, dropping from second to third.
As in Calgary, Thomas is skating last. But she was last Friday, too, and she said: “If I can do it today, I can do it tomorrow.”