Advantage Hanyu as Rival Chen Falls at World Championship

Mar 26, 2021 | China, Japan, NEWS, SPORTS, US

by AFP

On top: Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu performs during the short program

Japan’s two-time Olympic gold medallist Yuzuru Hanyu capitalised on a fall by defending champion Nathan Chen to snatch the lead after the short programme of the world figure skating championship on Thursday.

Hanyu, who is competing for the first time in more than a year after opting to train alone during the Covid-19 pandemic, scored 106.98 points, skating to Robbie Williams’ “Let Me Entertain You”.

Double world champion Chen fell to the ice attempting his opening quadruple jump and scored 98.85 points.

That was good enough only for third place with Japanese 17-year-old Yuma Kagiyama taking his chance to split the two giants of the sport.

He scored a personal best of 100.96 points after a smooth and fluid short program.

The free program takes place on Saturday with Hanyu well-placed to join Chen as a three-time world champion, a year out from the Beijing Winter Olympics.

“Mentally I’m much more confident and I think that I can work on my program step by step,” said Hanyu who completed a quad Salchow, a quad toe-triple toe and triple Axel.

“I hope that I touched everyone with my program and left an impression everyone will keep in their hearts.”

American star Chen, skating to “Desperado” in an all-Spanish themed performance, recovered after his fall to land a triple Axel and a quad flip-triple.

“I made a big mistake right off the bat, which is, I wouldn’t say unconventional, but something that doesn’t normally happen to me,” said the 21-year-old.