Unstoppable Hanyu tops own short program recordFernández in distant second; Jin sits third; Chan struggles in return to Final
"If one is able to break his record, it will be him," Yuzuru Hanyu's coach, Brian Orser, said of his protégé after the records he set at the NHK Trophy two weeks ago.
Hanyu did just that Thursday night at the 2015 Grand Prix Final in Barcelona. He amassed an unprecedented segment score of 110.95 points for his short program. Spain's own Javier Fernández sits in second place with 91.52 points, ahead of China's Boyang Jin, who amassed 86.95 points.
Hanyu seemed to be flying across the ice from one element to the next, as if he were just breezing through his program. His opening quad salchow earned him a straight 3.0 Grade of Execution (GOE), as did his quad toe-triple toe combination a few seconds later. His triple axel earned a 2.71 GOE, and earned a credit for coming in the second half of his program. All of his elements were rated Level 4, with the notable exception of his step sequence, something he noticed right away:
"My goal here was not to beat my record," he said. "I wanted to perfect my elements."
Hanyu made skating look as natural as breathing, or maybe just as natural as Frédéric Chopin's music.
"Actually, I was very nervous," he said. "At NHK, I performed in front of a big crowd. Here, I had lots of Japanese fans, but there were also other fans, so the atmosphere was quite different. I hope that the day after tomorrow, this environment will give me inspiration to present the Japanese traditions of my free program to the audience."
Fernández skated last, right after Hanyu.
"It's always a challenge to skate after Yuzu, as he always skates well and gets great marks and so many flowers," he said.
Fernández tumbled on his opening quad salchow and had to settle for a triple lutz-double toe combination instead of his planned triple-triple. All his elements were rated Level 4, however. Each of his components stood above 9.0, and he took four 10.0 marks for choreography and interpretation from two judges.
"I, for sure, started better than last year," Fernández said, laughing in referenece to his fifth-place showing following the short program at this event last year. "Still, I made mistakes. At least I could see that the people were enjoying. That's most important: I think people enjoyed this evening, with Yuzu and myself and the others."
Fernández' score of 91.52 points would have seemed superlative at any other competition. Hanyu's score, more than 18 points higher, seems unbeatable, if not unapproachable.
"Yuzu has a lot of points, and I know that usually he is very consistent but you know…I will try my best!" the Spaniard concluded with his usual broad smile.
Jin landed his quad lutz-triple toe, triple axel and quad toe, but the triple toe of his combination was under-rotated and he lost points on every quad element, with negative GOEs.
"I'm not really satisfied, as two of my elements had mistakes," Jin said. "So, I didn't do my best today. I think I lacked some concentration here, and that's something I'll need to work on for the free program."
As strong as Jin's elements were, Jin's components stood around 7.80.
"I watched a lot of videos of tango dances, and that's how I learned the moves," Jin said. "Besides, I like the style of tango, and that's where my inspiration is coming from."
Japan's Shoma Uno also had a problem with his quad toe (he under-rotated it and fell), but that was his only mistake.
"Apart from the quad, I did well today," he said.
Uno's poise, energy and huge generosity on the ice made him one of the most applauded skaters of the event, and he also received baskets of flowers. Uno received higher components than Jin (by 3.56 points). He is in fourth place with 86.47 points, just 0.48 points behind Jin.
Japan's Daisuke Murakami landed his quadruple salchow and triple axel, but he had to double the triple toe of his triple lutz-triple toe combination. He displayed a very emotional and poetic rendering of "Bring Him Home," by Josh Groban. He amassed 83.47 points altogether.
Now, what about Patrick Chan?
Chan topped Hanyu at Skate Canada, and many were expecting him to be on par with the two leading men. The night turned into a nightmare for him. He opened his routine in the worst way: turning his opening quad toe triple toe into just a triple toe. He then tried to come back and combine a triple toe with his subsequent triple lutz. He could have tried a triple loop instead, but he went for a triple toe. Not only did he lose his points on the quad (which gave him a mere 3.20 points), but he also lost all the points for his combination as he repeated his triple toe, which is not allowed. His technical score was 25.72 points, although his components were still the third best of the evening.