Figure skating - Leading contenders for the men's world title

HELSINKI (Reuters) - The following are the leading contenders for the men's title at the world figure skating championships which open on Wednesday:

Javier Fernandez (Spain)

World titles: Two (2015, 2016)

European championship titles: Five (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)

Personal best scores: Total (314.93), short (104.25), free (216.41)

The double world champion will be favourite to complete a hat-trick of world titles after capturing a fifth successive European gold medal earlier this season.

A fourth-place finish in the Grand Prix Final was his only blip this season but his seamless mix of powerful quads -- with three expected in his free skate -- and artistic choreography could make him the man to beat heading into next February's Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Yuzuru Hanyu (Japan)

Olympic titles: One (2014)

World titles: One (2014)

Personal best scores: Total (330.43), short (110.95), free (219.48) -- all world records

Like Fernandez, the Japanese skater is coached by 1987 world champion Brian Orser.

The Olympic champion has the ability to thrill and disappoint in equal measure. Last year he failed to capitalise on a spectacular short skate in Boston by messing up his free programme -- a performance that left him collecting a second successive world silver behind Fernandez.

Following his record-scoring performances last season, the Japanese favourite has struggled to reproduce that thrilling form heading into Helsinki.

He has introduced a quadruple loop into his programme this season but a clean performance has so far eluded him.

Should his quadruple jumps fall into place, his silky skating skills could carry him to the top of the podium again.

Nathan Chen (U.S.)

Four Continents titles: One

Personal best scores: Total (307.46), short (103.12), free (204.34)

The 17-year-old American has enjoyed a debut senior season to remember as he upstaged Hanyu to win the Four Continents title in February.

A quad-jumping powerhouse, the teenager became the first skater in history to land four different types of quads (Lutz, flip, toeloop, Salchow) and five in total in his free skate at this year's U.S. Championships.

However, while completing four aerial revolutions, time and time again, is fast becoming his trademark, his performances lack the artistic finesse of the programmes exhibited by rivals such as Fernandez, Hanyu and Patrick Chan.

If he pulls of an expected seven quads across his short and free skates cleanly though, he could upstage the old guard in Helsinki.

Patrick Chan (Canada)

World Titles: Three 2011, 2012, 2013

Personal best scores: Total (295.27), short (99.76), free (203.99)

The three-times world champion, who failed in his bid to become the first Canadian to win the men's Olympic title in Sochi in 2014, has struggled to keep up with the fast-changing pace of men's figure skating.

His intricate footwork and graceful choreography need to be backed up with high-scoring quadruple jumps -- landed cleanly -- if he wants to win a medal.

He has added a quad Salchow to his repertoire but even that might not be enough.

Jin Boyang (China)

Personal best scores: Total (289.83), short (98.45), free (191.38)

China’s first men’s world medallist -- with bronze in 2016 -- is another competitor who will be attempting to land five quadruple jumps in his free skate.

His crowd-pleasing routines to Michael Buble's 'Spiderman' theme in the short and 'La Strada' in the free skate thrill the fans but the 19-year-old has yet to claim a top prize in any international meeting.

Shoma Uno (Japan)

Personal best scores: Total (288.05), short (100.28), free (195.69)

Uno has enjoyed a consistent season by winning a medal in each of the seven competitions he has entered during 2016-2017.

The 19-year-old would like nothing better than to emerge from Hanyu's shadow and has showcased his talent by regularly landing a quadruple flip and quadruple loop this season.

He settled for bronze at both the Grand Prix Final and the Four Continents but has the talent and the weapons to do even better.

(Reporting by Pritha Sarkar; Editing by Clare Fallon)

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