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Hanyu sneaks past Fernandez by a whisker

Japanese skater grabs gold, Abbott settles for bronze

Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan survived Spaniard Javier Fernandez's push by a mere 0.03 points.
Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan survived Spaniard Javier Fernandez's push by a mere 0.03 points. (Getty Images)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(11/26/2011) - By the narrowest of margins -- just three one-hundredths of a point -- Yuzuru Hanyu bested Javier Fernandez to win the 2011 Rostelecom Cup.

Japan's 2010 world junior champion placed second in the free to the Spanish heartthrob, but a 4.28-point cushion after the short program gave him his first senior Grand Prix title. Two-time U.S. champion Jeremy Abbott, who led after the short, won bronze.

All three medalists, plus fourth-place finisher Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic, have qualified for the Grand Prix Final in Quebec City next month. They join Canada's world champion Patrick Chan and Japan's Olympic bronze medalist Daisuke Takahashi.

Hanyu gained his victory with an expressive and technically sharp skate to Craig Armstrong's Romeo and Juliet soundtrack, including two strong triple Axels, the second done in combination with a triple toe loop. The 17-year-old from Sendai showed off his musicality and strong spins, although a fall in his circular steps dropped the element to Level 1. He also fell on an opening quad toe loop, although he gained credit for fully rotating the jump. Hanyu earned 158.88 for the free and 241.66 overall, a new best.

"I am very tired today but very happy to bring a good result to Japan," Hanyu said. I have no emotion right now about going to the Grand Prix Final, but I felt confident with my performance."

Fernandez, who also won silver at Skate Canada, continued to impress with his superb athletic ability and clean skating. Urged on by coach Brian Orser, the Spaniard hit two quads -- toe and Salchow -- and a solid triple Axel-triple toe combination in the opening seconds of his Verdi program, choreographed by David Wilson. A doubled Lutz and singled flip cost him a chance at his first Grand Prix title.

"I am very happy to have won the second Grand Prix medal in my life. I did a great job, but I also did mistakes, and I will work to fix them," Fernandez said. "I really happy to be the first man (skater) from Spain to go to the Grand Prix Final."

Abbott's sensitive and mature skating to Muse's "Exogenesis: Symphony" deservedly gained the highest program components score (83.44) of the event, but he made too many jumping mistakes to win in this field. After falling on a game try at a quad toe, he recovered with a solid triple Axel and triple flip, but a second fall on another triple Axel sealed his fate. Still, the 26-year-old, who trains in Detroit under Yuka Sato and Jason Dungjen, can pack his bags for the Grand Prix Final, a competition he has won once.

"There are no words," Abbott said. "I'm happy to make the Final and work harder toward the next competition."

Triple Axel woes hurt Brandon Mroz, as the Colorado Springs skater popped both of his attempts into singles. His Carmen free, choreographed by 2008 world champion Jeffrey Buttle, earned 116.14, putting him ninth overall.

Information from the ISU press release was used in this article.