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Hanyu lands new record score at Four Continents

by Paula Slater
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2020 Four Continents

Men’s Short Program

The Men’s Short Program was filled with many stellar performances on Friday, with Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu taking the lead with a new record score. Boyang Jin of China finds himself in second place, followed by USA’s Jason Brown after the event concluded in Seoul, South Korea, at the Wakiki Mokdong Ice Rink.

Opting for his 2017-18 routine to “Ballade No. 1 in G Minor Op. 23,” Yuzuru Hanyu delivered a technically challenging, yet beautiful, performance. The two-time Olympic champion effortlessly landed a quad Salchow, quad toe-triple toe, and triple Axel—earning very high positive grades of execution (GOE) on each jump. All spins and footwork were graded a level 4 and also received high GOEs, and he earned a new record score for the men’s short program of 111.82.

“I think I skated with elegance today and today’s performance was the most perfect performance I’ve ever done,” said the 25-year-old. “Also, I tried to express my music deeply with my feeling and I could jump higher and with more perfection. So, I am really satisfied with my performance today.”

Hanyu had actually set a personal goal for a higher score than 110 and added that he grew confident during his skate.

“I just skated without thinking,” he said. “Actually, lately, I have been thinking a lot before jumping and I should jump clean with an image on my mind. But I just could skate without a lot of thoughts today.”

The two-time World champion plans on doing a quad Lutz, quad Salchow, two quad toes, and a triple Axel for his free skate.

“I feel a special moment for the long program because I won the Olympic Games with this program,” Hanyu said of his 2017-18 program. “I think the fans really want to protect their memory of this program and I actually feel the same. I’m afraid to do the program again, but I feel totally different between Pyeongchang and now, because I skated a totally different short program today. That’s why I want to make a new program for the day after tomorrow. I just want to show something and this is important. I don’t care about ranking and points.”

Jin hung onto the landing of his opening quad Lutz (in combination with a triple toe), as well as a triple Axel in the second half of his routine to “First Light.” The two-time World bronze medalist otherwise produced a quad toe and earned a level 4 on all spins and footwork to score 95.83 points.

“Overall, my performance was okay, but it could have been better. I feel my jumps were not perfect,” the 22-year-old acknowledged. “The landing of the first one (quadruple Lutz) and also of the triple Axel was not so good.”

Jin, whose goal is to medal at this event, plans on doing the quad Salchow—the trickiest jump for him—in his free skate on Saturday.

Brown delivered a tremendous performance to “I Can’t Go On Without You,” earning many positive GOEs for all jumps and level 4 footwork and spins. The 2018 Four Continents bronze medalist landed a triple flip, triple Axel, and triple Lutz-triple toe to earn a season’s best of 94.71.

“Tonight was just an incredible event all around,” said the 2020 U.S. national silver medalist. “The crowd was amazing and I just kind of fed off that. The ‘Poohs’ were everywhere and it was very exciting—it was my first time actually to skate after Yuzuru. It was a positive thing to have, and to have his support was awesome, to hear him cheer me on before I skated.”

Breaking his season’s best was Brown’s goal coming into this event. The skater felt he’d had an early rough start to the season and is excited regarding the changes that have taken place for him with his coaches, Tracy Wilson and Brian Orser, since May 2018.

“I’m really starting to get into a groove with them,” said the 25-year-old, “and I’m really starting to learn. It’s starting to come from being unexpected and nerve-racking to starting to really understand what we’re doing. That’s why I feel so much more comfortable in my body and it’s starting to show and come across in my skating.”

Showing quality skating, Canada’s Keegan Messing landed a quad toe-triple toe, triple Axel, and triple Lutz his performance to “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran. The 2019 CS Autumn Classic bronze medalist earned a level 3 on his footwork, while all spins were graded a level 4, and sits close behind Brown with 94.03 points.

“I feel it went very well today,” said the 28-year-old. “This program was made for my wife and we just had our six month (wedding) anniversary earlier this week. So to go out and skate a clean program, it fills me up with those same butterflies as watching her walk down the aisle.”

Japan’s Yuma Kagiyama gave a flawless and mature performance to Piano Concerto “Shukumei” which featured a confident quad toe, triple Axel, and triple Lutz-triple toe. While the Lutz received an edge call, the junior national champion showed very good level 4 footwork and spins to score a new personal best of 91.61 in his debut at this event.

“I was not as nervous as I thought,” said the 16-year-old from Yokohama. “On the contrary, I was going to think that I can do best as a challenger in this competition. Also, I skated well like when I practiced without any mistakes today, so I was really thankful.”

South Korea’s Junhwan Cha underrotated a triple Axel, but landed a solid quad Salchow and triple Lutz-triple toe in his routine to music by Astor Piazzolla. The four-time national champion also earned a level 4 on all spins and footwork to score a new season’s best of 90.37.

“I’m glad that it went as well as I have practiced,” said Cha. “There was a little mistake, but I did my best until the end. I feel sad about my mistake and I’ll try not to make the same mistake in my free skate. I am very satisfied to get a season’s best and I’m glad that my score is over 90 again.”

“I’m glad that the Four Continents Championships are held in Korea and many fans from Korea and abroad came to cheer for me,” he added. “I’m so thankful to them.”

Kazuki Tomono of Japan sits in seventh with a new personal best of 88.22 for his performance to “The Hardest Button to Button,” which featured a quad toe-triple toe, quad Salchow, and triple Axel.

“The moment I finished, I felt like I was finally able to make a jump that I was satisfied with,” said the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic champion. “But the score didn’t come out as much as I thought, so I’ll work hard so that I can perform better in the free skate. I thought Yuma Kagiyama was amazing, because he scored so many points. I was not prepared perfectly for this season. Also, the speed of the music was a little bit fast for me to follow the mood, but through this opportunity, I gained the confidence to manage any program since I did such a difficult program this time.”

USA’s Tomoki Hiwatashi earned a new personal best of 88.09, finishing eighth after his energetic routine to “Love Runs Out.” The 2019 World Junior champion landed a quad toe, triple Axel, and triple Lutz-triple toe, while picking up a level 4 for his spins and footwork.

“In general, I was able to perform and I was able to execute all my jumps and I’m very happy about that,” said the 2020 U.S. national bronze medalist. “But I feel like I haven’t been able to skate all out with the most passion I do myself as much as Nationals, and that’s what kind of disappointed me this competition. But overall, as a last competition of the season, I’m very satisfied with what I did today.”

Nam Nguyen of Canada delivered a solid quad Salchow-triple toe, triple Axel, and triple flip in his confident “Blues for Klook” routine to finish ninth (85.24).

“I feel okay, kind of just doing the work,” said the 2019 Skate Canada silver medalist. “We’ve been doing similar run-throughs like this since nationals. It’s just another day at the office, like going from start to end.”

USA’s Camden Pulkinen rounds out the top 10 with a score of 84.66 in his debut at this event. The 19-year-old, who took a fall during the warm-up, hung onto the landing of his quad toe and triple Lutz-triple toe, but delivered a solid triple Axel in his expressive routine to “Caruso.”

“In practice the quad toe wasn’t going as consistent as I would like, so that’s why I was very thrilled, said Pulkinen. “The quad toe is still a very new jump this season, so I’m happy to land it again in competition. It’s hard competing at nationals and then having a week between and then coming here to Korea, so I was just overall very happy with a complete, clean skate.”

“You can expect me to give a lot of emotion in the free skate and skate this program for one last time this season and have a great time,” he added.

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