Kaori Sakamoto won her first world title today in Montpelier ©Getty Images

Japan's Kaori Sakamoto was crowned the women's singles world champion for the first time at the International Skating Union (ISU) World Figure Skating Championships, after taking the gold at the Sud de France Arena in Montpelier.

Sakamoto was the firm favourite for the title following the suspension of Russian athletes from the ISU.

This meant Olympic champion Anna Shcherbakova, Olympic silver medallist Anna Trusova and Olympic short programme winner Kamila Valieva - the 15-year-old who is still at the centre of a doping scandal that rocked the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games - were all missing from the competition.

Olympic bronze medallist Sakamoto won her first world gold medal by keeping her lead from the short programme, which she won with a score of 80.32, with Belgium's Loena Hendrickx her nearest challenger on 75.00.

American Mariah Bell was third on 72.08, with You Young of South Korea and the United States' Alysa Liu completing the top five at the halfway stage.

Loena Hendrickx claimed the silver medal behind Kaori Sakamoto ©Getty Images
Loena Hendrickx claimed the silver medal behind Kaori Sakamoto ©Getty Images

In the free skating, Sakamoto scored 155.77 for a total of 236.09 after performing to No More Fight Left In Me.

Hendrickx maintained her second place with a score of 142.70 and a total of 217.70, which was enough to hold off the impressive Liu who moved up two places to take the bronze with a free skating score of 139.28 for a combined 211.19.

Bell was fourth with 208.66 followed by You on 204.91.

Georgia's Anastasiia Gubanova jumped up eight places to sixth after the free skate, followed by Lee Hae-in of South Korea in seventh, who moved up four spots.

Olympic champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France lead the ice dance after the rhythm dance section with a score of 92.73.

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue are in second on 89.72, with their American compatriots Madison Chock and Evan Bates in third on 87.51.

Italians Charlène Guignard and Marco Fabbri are on 84.22 in fourth and Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier are fifth on 80.79.