The American defending champion, Todd Eldredge, and the Russian, Ilya Kulik, were in contention as the judges differed in their view of who was best. Urmanov, also Russian, was placed first by four judges, Eldredge by three and Kulik two.
Canada's Elvis Stojko, the 1994 and 1995 champion, was fourth with another Russian, 17-year-old Alexei Yagudin, fifth.
All the leading skaters hit the difficult triple axel-triple toe loop combination so the difference came down to more subtle elements. The top three control their own fate in today's long programme, which is worth two-thirds of the score. If one of them wins it, he will take the title.