Ice Network

Hanyu continues historic run with all-time best free

Fernández excellent in front of home crowd; Uno delights Japanese fans
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Yuzuru Hanyu continued his unprecedented run of greatness at the 2015 Grand Prix Final, rewriting the record book yet again. The Olympic champion set new standards for free skate (219.48) and overall (330.43) scores, surpassing the marks he set at the NHK Trophy in November. -David Ramos - ISU

In what will go down in history as a night of glory for men's figure skating, Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu again broke the world record for free skate and overall score.

Four free skates at the 2015 Grand Prix Final hit the 190-plus point bar: Hanyu amassed 219.48 points, Spain's own Javier Fernández came away with 201.43 points, Patrick Chan received 192.84, and 190.32 points went to Shoma Uno. Each of the four men received a spontaneous standing ovation. The new record for overall score is 330.43 points.

Hanyu shared the podium with his training mate Fernández, who won silver. Much to the delight of the huge crowd of Japanese fans who traveled to Barcelona for the event, Uno took bronze.

Hanyu delivered a perfect program. His routine, set to "Seimei" by Shigeru Umebayashi, featured a quad salchow, quad toe, quad toe-triple toe, triple axel-double toe and triple axel-half loop-triple salchow. Each one of these five elements added more than 13 points to his tally.

If a jump was a game at a casino, Hanyu would win every time. Actually, he did get covered with gold at the end. He scored an unprecedented 120.92 points for his technical elements alone.

"I felt very nervous before my performance, because I heard the audience's cheers," Hanyu said. "I think that I was putting pressure on myself after my performance at NHK (Trophy). Then I felt relieved and told myself to just skate the way I could. I got record scores, but I did almost a perfect performance, so I'm satisfied -- almost, because my step sequences are still only Level 3. Also, I need to improve in English!"

Hanyu also took the time to explain how the genre of Noh theater was incorporated into his routine.

"Shae-Lynn Bourne, who choreographed the piece, crafted the program after watching the movie (Onmyoji). She included some of the main character's movements," Hanyu said. "They may not be traditional Noh theater movement, but they are those from the movie. You'll recognize the hand sign with two fingers pointed, for instance, instead of showing the whole palm. It's a type of sutra to fight against the negative spirits."

Fernández did not let himself be distracted by the home crowd, but he managed to take loads of energy from it. He slightly tumbled on his opening quad toe loop, but his following quad salchow-triple toe was perfect. After his first three elements, as he had mentioned in his morning interview with icenetwork, he started to play with the audience, who gladly followed him and applauded him during his step sequence. He then reeled off another quad salchow and five more triples. He earned 201.43 points for his free skate, becoming only the second person in the world to surpass the 200-point bar, and finished with 292.95 points overall.

"After the short program, I knew that Yuzuru was very far ahead," Fernández said. "Coming into today, I decided to just skate the way I could -- very relaxed. Our free programs are so close in technical elements, there was no way to come back from 20 points down! I did everything that was planned in the program. It was a long time since I last skated a clean free program and showed the people I can skate really well and clean!"

"Fade, stars! At dawn I will win! Vincero! Vincero! I'll win, I'll win!" Just like Calaf, the prince of Puccini's Turandot opera, Uno came to Barcelona as a nearly unknown prince and left with a huge reputation, and surely many flowers, given the number of little girls who had to run after them on the ice! He delivered his program as his roadmap suggested: quad toe-double toe, triple axel-triple toe, another triple axel and another quad toe in the routine's second half.

"I'm very happy with the way I skated tonight, but I can't help thinking of my mistakes in the short program," Uno said. "It will be my assignment for the weeks to come. When I was skating in the free program, I had just one idea in mind: Give 100 percent on each element and execute my program the best I could. Yesterday, I did not do the same, and it did not go as well."

Skating first after finishing in sixth place following a mistake-laden short program, Patrick Chan delivered a dream-like free skate and captivated the audience right away during his Frédéric Chopin routine. He landed a commanding quad toe-triple toe to open his program, followed by a triple axel, a triple toe (instead of a potential second quad) and four more triples.

Sometimes, words are not needed to deliver a message. Chan proved that sometimes you may not need more jumps for a program to be great, either. He was applauded right in the middle of a simple step sequence, as the second movement of his routine was quietly starting. One of the most emotional moments in Chan's program may have been the landing of his triple salchow, in the middle of a silence, which further emphasized the quality of his glide. Chan was third in the free skate and moved up two spots to take fourth place.

"Before coming here, my jumps were going just fine. I don't know what happened here, really," Chan said. "It was like I was lost here, and could not figure out what to think as I was wandering on the ice. Those two last days were extremely frustrating. I have learned one lesson here: that the only thing I need to do is just relax and let my body do what he knows."

"Mack is back in town," as the lyrics to Chan's short program go. Don't call him "Mack the Knife," though. He is too kind for that. Call him "Mack the Blade" instead. He is back in town -- and for the better.

Boyang Jin mastered his "Dragon Racing" free, as he managed to land the four quads in his program: lutz, salchow (with a tumble) and toe loop. He also nailed one triple axel (he fell on his first attempt). His program was a festival of jumps. He amassed 101.86 points for his technical elements, the third best of the evening.

"There's a lot to improve, especially in the transitions," he said in reference to his 176.50-point free skate.

Daisuke Murakami had a rough evening, as he failed on his two quad salchow attempts. He dropped one spot to sixth place, collecting 152.02 points for his free skate, and 235.40 points overall.