Vincent Zhou skated his way to the top after winning the the 2017 ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships gold medal on Friday in Taipei, Taiwan.
The 16-year-old figure skater from Palo Alto, California, who took home the silver medal at the U.S. senior nationals in January, jumped from fifth place by landing a quadruple lutz and two quadruple salchows — one in combination with a triple salchow — two triple axels and four triple jumps, according to Mercury News.
Zhou’s performance earned him 179.24 points for a total of 258.11 points to beat out runner-up Dmitri Aliev, followed by two other Russian skaters in third- and fourth-place.
Skating to the “Casablanca” soundtrack, the teen also received a Level 4 mark for his footwork while donning a white top coat and black pants.
“For me, the most important area to develop is my artistic side,” Zhou told reporters at a press conference. “I know the technical side is very, very important nowadays because people are doing more and more quads. Of course, I will need to be doing more and more quads, too. But I can’t just be a jump machine and skate like a robot.”
Zhou’s coach Tammy Gambill cheered him on and gave him a hug after his performance.
“The gap between first and fifth after the short program wasn’t that big, so I knew it wasn’t anything I couldn’t overcome,” he said. “I just took the free skate element by element.”
Zhou follows in the footsteps of 17-year-old Nathan Chen, who has become a favorite to take home the senior world crown later in March.
“It’s really great to see these younger guys, Nathan and Vincent, pushing the boundaries,” veteran skater Ross Miner said at the U.S. championships in January.
Zhou previously won the 2011 U.S. intermediate title, the 2012 novice crown and the 2013 junior championship.
He will compete for a spot in the 2018 Winter Games along with Karen Chen and Polina Edmunds.