NICE, France -- Carolina Kostner of Italy won the world figure skating title Saturday, delivering a graceful performance of mesmerizing steps and spins for her first gold medal at a major event.
Patrick Chan of Canada captured the men's title for the second straight year despite a flawed free skate that included a late tumble. He is the first man to win consecutive titles since the now retired Stephane Lambiel of Switzerland in 2006.
"It's more special than the first to be honest. I had my doubts," Chan said. "I think I kind of made it over the hump now."
Kostner, last year's bronze medalist and the reigning European champion, buried her head in her hands at the end of a faultless free skate punctuated by flawless jumps that sent her rocketing up from third place in the short program.
Russia's Alena Leonova had led after an innovative and energized short program. On Saturday, she made a slightly awkward landing on a triple lutz but otherwise skated cleanly.
Akiko Suzuki of Japan got the bronze.
Leonova, fourth last year, almost clipped the barrier with her skate after a triple flip-double toe loop. She also had a near miss with her emotions -- she just about managed to stop crying as the crowd roared its approval for her first major tournament medal.
Ashley Wagner salvaged some pride after a tough few days for the American men and women with fourth place after placing eighth in the short program.
Wagner saved the Americans from the embarrassment of being down to only one spot at the 2013 world championships, the qualifier for the Sochi Olympics. The Americans needed to finish with a combined placement of 28 or better to keep their two spots, and Alissa Czisny jeopardized that with an abysmal performance that left her 22nd out of 30 skaters.
But Wagner was brilliant, finishing third in the free skate to finish fourth overall.
In the men's competition, Olympic bronze medalist Daisuke Takahashi and rising star Yuzuru Hanyu took the silver and bronze medals, the first time Japan has had two men on the podium.
U.S. champion Jeremy Abbott and Adam Rippon failed to win back a third spot for the Americans at next year's world championships, the qualifier for the Sochi Olympics.