The Men’s free skating at Cup of China on Saturday wasn’t pretty but at least exciting. In the end, only one skater was in the same place as in the short program. USA’s Jeremy Abbott was ranked third in both segments but clinched the title by a little over a point.
Japan’s Nobunari Oda came from fourth to take the silver medal, while China’s Nan Song, pulled up from fifth to capture the bronze with the highest-scoring free skate. Overnight leader Artur Gachinski of Russia plummeted to fifth and second-ranked Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan had to settle for fourth place.
Abbott went down on his first jump, a quad toe, but fought back to land five triples (including a triple Axel). Though he singled the second Axel, the 26-year-old earned a level 4 on two of his spins. His routine to Exogenesis Symphony Part 3 by Muse should be become a signature piece for him as it is a beautiful, elegant program that underlines his strengths. The former Grand Prix Final Champion scored 149.17 points and was able to move up to first at 228.49 points.
“It was not my best but apparently I have good luck in China,” Abbott said. “I am happy to start off my season this way. I feel like I’m starting where I left off last season, which means the season only will be better, so I’m excited about that.”
Oda opted for a more classical program to The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. The Japanese silver medalist landed seven triples (including two triple Axels), however he fell on an underrotated triple flip and both the Lutzes received an edge call. The program felt rather flat. Oda is a powerful jumper, however, he needs to bring more emotions to his figure skating, and this soft, jingling music is not the right vehicle for him. He scored 149.46 points which added up to 227.11 points.
“I didn’t do my best, but I still got (a) higher (placement),” said the 24-year-old. “I am happy to make the podium and next time I want to give a better performance.”
Song had nothing to loose and gave his best performance to date to the Hungarian Rhapsody by Franz Lizst. The Chinese silver medalist nailed a quad toe-triple toe combination, another quad toe, two triple Axels and three more triples to earn 154.03 points. He accumulated 226.75 points.
“This is the best I’ve skated so far in competition,” said the 21-year-old. “I am still in shock about having won a medal. It is my first time to be in the top three in a senior competition and I was far behind in the short program.”
Hanyu started off strongly with a quad toe, triple Axel, triple flip and Lutz, but his powerful program to Romeo and Juliet went downhill when he crashed on the triple Axel-triple toe. He also fell on the second triple Lutz and doubled the Salchow. He scored a total of 226.53 points, and later admitted that he felt very tired.
Gachinski fared even worse. He went down on the quad toe, stepped out of an Axel, and overall the whole program was messy (222.54 points).
USA’s Richard Dornbush moved up to sixth place overall (205.27) after placing fifth in the free skate.
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