With a score of 301.14 points, Uno, 25, beat South Korea's Cha Junhwan (296.03 pts) and American teenager Ilia Malinin (288.44 pts).

Uno gives the host nation its third title of the competition, following gold medals won by Kaori Sakamoto on Friday and the Riku Miura-Ryuichi Kihara pair in the pairs event on Thursday.

Long in the shadow of icons Yuzuru Hanyu and Nathan Chen, who bowed out last year, the Japanese takes all the light this time after a first world title won last year in Montpellier.

"I don't know what kind of skating I'll be able to keep giving, but I know (this win) will pave the way for me to go next," he said.

Japan's Shoma Uno, world skating champion on March 25, 2023 in Saitama © Yuichi YAMAZAKI / AFP

Worried about his jumps at the start of the competition due to an ankle injury, he skated with class to music by Johann Sebastian Bach despite a small error at the reception of a jump at the beginning of the program.

The sequel went off without a hitch, earning him a standing ovation from the local audience.

"The last two weeks have been very difficult because I wasn't in shape. (...) If I had to do it again, it would be impossible," he continued.

Uno had to be at his best to get rid of the competition of the American teenager Ilia Malinin. Eagerly awaited, the 18-year-old prodigy rose to the occasion with another masterful performance punctuated by six quadruple jumps.

Malinin, who is playing his first senior season, also became the first skater to land a quadruple axel at a World Championship.

American Ilia Malinin at the World Skating Championships in Saitama on March 25, 2023 © Yuichi YAMAZAKI / AFP

"I can't believe my progress this season. I'm impressed with myself and all the work I've put in," said the American. "I can be very proud of myself and the work I've done in recent weeks."

Despite this feat, he could only take the bronze medal, beaten by South Korea's Cha, who produced a virtuoso program on the theme of James Bond.

Aymoz "so happy"

On the French side, Kévin Aymoz offered a flawless performance on the music of the film "Gladiator", which allowed him to take fourth place with a personal best at the key. The 25-year-old had never done better than a ninth-place finish at the Worlds.

"I'm so happy. So happy that I don't have the words," he simply reacted, overwhelmed by emotion. "I love skating so much!"

The other French rider, Adam Siao Him Fa, finished in tenth position. The recent European champion, who could hope for a medal when he arrives in Japan, admitted that he still had "a lot of things to work on".

France's Kévin Aymoz at the World Skating Championships in Saitama, Japan, March 25, 2023 © Yuichi YAMAZAKI / AFP

Earlier in the day, Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates had captivated the Saitama rink on Saturday to win their first ice dance world championship title, ahead of Italy's Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri and Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier.

In the absence of Olympic champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, two French couples were in contention: Evgeniia Lopareva and Geoffrey Brissaud finished 12th and Loïcia Demougeot and Théo Le Mercier placed 14th.

© 2023 AFP