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Torrid Hanyu sets new standard with stellar short

Kozuka improves on practices; Abbott misses quad, sits third at Skate America

Yuzuru Hanyu's 95.07 points broke the world record, but his coach, Brian Orser, thinks the Japanese phenom can do even better.
Yuzuru Hanyu's 95.07 points broke the world record, but his coach, Brian Orser, thinks the Japanese phenom can do even better. (Getty Images)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(10/20/2012) - Yuzuru Hanyu, a 17-year-old from Sendai who skates with the abandon of a fearless showman and has jumps to match his flair, fired on all cylinders at Skate America on Friday, setting a new world record score for a short program.

His 95.07 points eclipsed the previous record of 94, earned by countryman Daisuke Takahashi at the World Team Trophy in Tokyo this spring. And the scariest part is Hanyu's coach, Brian Orser, thinks his skater can do even more.

"We have a lot more polish to go," said Orser, who trains the teen in Toronto. "He's a little bit more controlled. But we need to get some toes pointed and some leg extensions. He can do all of his elements a little bit better. To put them all into one program would be sensational, but that's where we have to go."

Hanyu was pretty sensational here, opening his "Parisian Walkways" short with a flawless quad toe that earned 12.30 points and later floating through a perfect triple Axel and triple Lutz-triple toe combination. His fast and flowing steps were forceful but not wild, helping him gain program components ranging up to 9.25 points.

"It is an extremely high score; I was very surprised," Hanyu said. "But I want to concentrate to finish this competition. This is just the short program; we still have the free to skate. I want to control my emotions to the very end."

Hanyu attributed his world record partly to a rule change: This season, jumps done past the halfway point of the short gain a 10-percent bonus. Orser and choreographer Jeff Buttle took full advantage, placing his Axel and combination late in the program.

"I put two difficult jumps toward the end, and the rules have changed since last season," Hanyu said. "This is just my first Grand Prix, though, so I don't want to get too excited.

"I was focused on my technical score, which was over 50, which was very surprising. I wasn't paying much attention to my program component, so I was very surprised they were so high (51.71). But I've been practicing quite well, and I'm hoping to carry this to my free skate."

Takahiko Kozuka, the 2011 world silver medalist, shrugged off poor practices here to nail his short to the theme from Exodus. Japan's 2011 champion hit a quad toe, triple Axel and triple Lutz-triple toe, earning 85.32 points.

"I am very happy I was able to skate clean today," Kozuka said. "The score is my personal best, and this is a good score to build on, so I'm hoping to perform well tomorrow."

Jeremy Abbott had warned that his quad toe, re-tooled to be done on a curve, was still a work in progress. He was right; a fall on the jump was the only blemish in his spiffy "Spy" short, choreographed with So You Think You Can Dance champion Benji Schwimmer to highlight crisp steps and complex and controlled arm movements. The U.S. champion gained 77.71 points to finish third, but is more than 17 points behind Hanyu.

"My goal for here was to put the quad in both programs, get my levels, and make sure the rest of my jumps were solid and completed so one mistake wouldn't topple the whole program," Abbott said. "I came today and did exactly what I wanted to do and I'm really proud of that.

"I got a good score, better than a lot of my scores last season, so I've got to work on the consistency of the quad and go up from here."

Armin Mahbanoozadeh, fourth in the U.S. last season, fell on his quad attempt, but the rest of his short to "Kashmir" was solid, earning 68.27 points. He sits seventh with 68.27 points.

"It's been a rough few days for me," said Mahbanoozadeh, who trains in Colorado Springs under Christy Krall. "I sprained my ankle yesterday (Thursday), so I've been constantly trying to get back on my feet. I had a fantastic warm-up today that didn't translate to the performance, but overall I'm happy with it."

Douglas Razzano, the fifth-ranked U.S. man, fell on his two opening jumps, the quad toe and triple Axel, before landing a triple toe-triple toe combination. He earned 57.06 points for 10th place.

"We changed the order of the first two elements to try to be more successful with the quad," Razzano said. "My Axel is usually very reliable, and I like having that one done and out of the way. We're going to have some evaluations to do when we get home."