Ice Network

Boston brewings: Hanyu, Ten stir up practice tiff

Orser wants student to let incident go, focus on upcoming free skate
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A near-collision at practice between Yuzuru Hanyu and Denis Ten has skaters and coaches pointing fingers in all directions. -Getty Images

The polite veneer of practice sessions cracked Wednesday morning at Boston's Steriti Memorial Rink, the secondary venue for the 2016 World Figure Skating Championships, when a near-collision between Yuzuru Hanyu and Denis Ten left Hanyu furious and observers, including members of the Japanese press corps, shocked.

According to multiple observers, while Hanyu was running through his short program to Chopin's "Ballade No. 1," the Japanese Olympic champion turned to prepare for a triple axel when he saw Ten practicing a camel spin directly in his path. Hanyu yelled, changed his pattern to avoid Ten, and then launched into his axel and fell. While sitting on the ice, he punched the boards.

Hanyu's coach, Brian Orser, thinks Ten was clearly at fault.

"When somebody is doing their program, they have the right of way," the two-time Olympic silver medalist said. "That's a simple unwritten rule.

"Everyone kind of has their gameplan, they have a set routine, and when it gets interrupted, it sort of throws everybody for a loop," he continued. "I don't think anything was intentional. Some skaters need to have a little bit better awareness on the ice, especially when someone is doing their solo."

Johnny Weir knows what it's like to skate in close quarters on practice ice.

"When you have to get on the ice with some of the best men in the world, you're all vying for space and territory and time. It's the nature of the sport," Weir said during a meeting with the media Thursday morning at TD Garden. "When you're at this level, you know the patterns of the other skaters, you have skated with them a million times. You should be aware and take care. It's part of being a respectful competitor."

Orser noted his other student, defending world champion Javier Fernández, had a similar problem in the same practice session with a skater other than Ten. The easygoing Spaniard shrugged it off.

"Javi is just less emotional than Yuzu," he said.

Hanyu regained his bearings in time for Wednesday night's short program. The Japanese star hit two quadruple jumps (salchow and toe loop) to score 110.56 points and take a 12-point lead over Fernández. In the mixed zone following his performance, he told Japanese reporters he thought the Kazakhstan skater's interference was intentional.

"He was angry, and I don't see him angry that often," Orser said. "I told him, 'You just need to breathe. You need to let it go. We have to move on.' He's too good to let that kind of stuff bother him."

Ten believes the incident is being blown out of proportion.

"I honestly didn't notice it until someone was screaming at my back every time he was passing by," Ten said. "I don't think there was an issue; we didn't hit each other. I always train with a lot of people on the ice. Maybe he is not used to a lot of people. It's practice: There are six people on the ice, and sometimes we get too close to each other."

Asked whether Hanyu's angry outburst surprised him, Ten said, "A little bit, but you know, we all are athletes and we have our own ways to react to certain situations. I behave very normal to these kind of situations; I'm always calm. I think it's not something critical but who knows, we are all different, we all have different thoughts. I try not to take it too seriously."

Hanyu may have flashed back to a collision with China's Han Yan during a six-minute warmup at the 2014 Cup of China, which left him bloody and shaken. Ten admitted it was the second practice incident for the two skaters this week: They also had a near-miss at a practice at TD Garden on Tuesday.

"We talked (after the first incident) and I said, 'Maybe the rink is smaller,'" Ten said. "But honestly, I didn't even notice until the end because I thought there was a lot of space between us."

Ten, who sits a disappointing 12th after falling out of a quad toe loop in his short, added that his coach, Frank Carroll, would not tolerate an outburst like Hanyu's.

"Frank is a very conservative person. If it happens in El Segundo (where Carroll trains Ten and U.S. champion Gracie Gold at the Toyota Sports Center), he will not let a skater keep skating," Ten said. "Behavior is very important."

Orser's main concern is to keep his skater on an even keel heading into Friday's free skate. Ten's poor short program result means he and Hanyu will not share another practice session in Boston.

"An accident like this could throw the entire day off," Orser said. "I want to keep it happy and upbeat. Yuzu is so intense, and he's so focused. That's what I love about him. I don't want to make a deal about it, because his energy shouldn't be wasted on this. His energy should stay on what his job is, and that's what I told him."