MONTPELLIER, France (Reuters) – Ivan Shmuratko took the ice wearing his Ukraine training t-shirt for the men’s short programme at the figure skating world championships on Thursday.
The 20-year-old, who performed his routine to Charles Aznavour’s ‘Une Vie d’Amour’ with a yellow and blue heart knitted on the chest of his outfit, received a rousing welcome from the crowd, with several fans holding Ukraine or peace-promoting flags.
Ukrainian skaters are taking part in this week’s world championships despite their country’s invasion by Russia.
Shmuratko, struggled with his programme, scoring 73.99 points after he fell on his triple lutz-triple toeloop combination.
But all that barely mattered and Shmuratko shared a long embrace with his coaches after skating off the ice. He qualified for the free skate after finishing 22nd. Shoma Uno topped the standings with 109.63 points, ahead of Japanese compatriots Yuma Kagiyama and Kazuki Tomono.
South Korea’s Lee Sihyeong, on the ice just before Shmuratko, had also incorporated a yellow and blue heart into his outfit.
Russian and Belarusian skaters have been banned from taking part in the world championships, leaving a depleted field in Montpellier, where the last two Olympic men’s champions – Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu and American Nathan Chen are absent due to injury.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)