Golden Skate

Japan’s Yuzuru front-runner at 2019 Skate Canada

Yuzuru Hanyu

Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu performs his Short Program at 2019 Skate Canada International.

2019 Skate Canada

Men’s Short Program

Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu easily took the lead after the Men’s Short Program on Friday night at 2019 Skate Canada International with 20 points to spare. USA’s Camden Pulkinen is in a solid second in his Grand Prix debut, followed by Canada’s Nam Nguyen.

Hanyu didn’t disappoint when he took the ice in Kelowna, B.C. The two-time Olympic Champion, skating to last season’s “Otonal” by Raul di Blasio, reeled off a quad Salchow which earned mostly +4 and +5 in grades of execution across the board. He followed up with a textbook perfect triple Axel and then landed a quad toe-triple toe. The skater showed excellent artistry and skating skills, displaying level 4 spins and good level 3 footwork throughout. He scored 109.60—over 11 points more than he did earlier this season at 2019 Autumn Classic where he took gold.

“It was not so great, but I felt I did my best today,” said Hanyu. “I felt calm today, but I am not sure if my calmness led to me being more focused.”

In his first Grand Prix event, Pulkinen landed a quad toe, triple Axel and triple Lutz-triple toe in his moving routine to “Caruso”. The 19-year-old earned a level three on most elements, but was awarded a level 4 on his final change combination spin and finished second with a personal best of 89.05.

“This is my senior Grand Prix debut, so I think I surprised myself with scoring 89 points,” said Pulkinen. “I never really knew I could do that until I actually did it. I was just happy that I could hold together a complete program, hold my spins and nail my jumps.”

Performing to “Blues for Klook” by Eddy Louiss, Nguyen put a foot down on a triple Axel, but landed a quad Salchow-triple toe and triple flip. The two-time and current Canadian Champion also earned a level 4 on two spins and earned 84.08 for third place.

“Everything fell into place today,” said Nguyen. “The crowd was great, the energy was insane. The program overall felt great. It was a big step up from Nebelhorn Trophy, but there is a lot more work that needs to be done.”

Deniss Vasiljevs of Latvia, who was last to skate, sits in fourth with a new personal best of 84.01. The 2019 Nepela Memorial bronze medalist wasn’t perfect, but landed a triple flip-triple toe, triple Axel, and triple Lutz (foot down). He received a level 4 and positive GOEs for all three spins and showed good level 3 footwork throughout in his routine to “Bloodstream” by Tokio Myers.

Keiji Tanaka of Japan who was in a car accident in a taxi (along with Marin Honda) on Tuesday, competed with a sore knee. Despite any pain, the 2019 U.S. International Classic gold medalist landed a strong triple Axel, but triple what was meant to be a quad Salchow. He went on to land a triple Lutz-double toe and showed level 4 spins and good level 3 footwork throughout his routine to “Hip Hip Chin Chin”, finishing fifth with 80.11 points.

Russia’s Andrei Lazukin had to hang on to his quad Lutz and then put a hand down on a triple Axel in his routine to “Mack the Knife”. The triple flip (in combination with a triple toe) received an edge call and the skater from St. Petersburg finished sixth with 78.99 points.

Julian Zhi Jie Yee of Malaysia earned a personal best of 75.64 after a solid performance which featured a triple Axel, triple Lutz, and triple flip-triple toe. He is currently in seventh place.

Canada’s Nicolas Nadeau of Canada sits in eight with 75.22. The 22-year-old landed a triple Axel and triple Salchow-triple toe, but had to hang onto a triple loop.

Italy’s Matteo Rizzo had a disappointing skate and sits in eighth (70.12). The 2019 European bronze medalist underrotated and two-footed the landing of a quad toe and and fell on his triple Lutz combination.

Germany’s Paul Fentz is in tenth (66.32), followed by Roman Sadovsky of Canada (65.29) and Brendan Kerry of Australia (56.75).