Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu grabbed the Men’s figure skating Short Program, setting a new record score, while teammate Daisuke Takahashi edged out Javier Fernández of Spain for second place at the 2012 NHK Trophy.
Hanyu delivered an excellent short program to Parisian Walkways by Gary Moore. The quad toe, triple Axel, and triple Lutz-triple toe were solid, while the spins and footwork were confident and smooth. Each element was awarded many positive Grades of Execution (GOE) from all nine judges. The spins were a level four, while the straight line footwork a level three, and the teen was also awarded component scores up to 9.25.
The Japanese bronze medalist set a new record for the short program with 95.32 (53.03/42.29) points, breaking the record he himself set last month at Skate America (95.07).
“Today I was so happy with all my jumps,” said the World bronze medalist. “I was able to perform very well in two competitions in a row and show my best. I’m not used to [setting record scores]. I saw the number 95 and it still felt surreal.”
However, the 17-year-old knows that this event isn’t in the bag yet.
“At Skate America I made mistakes in the free skating,” Hanyu acknowledged. “I practiced a lot in order to avoid these mistakes, and so I don’t feel anxious for the free skating. I try not to think about [qualifying for the Final] too much, but it kind of hangs there.”
Takahashi looked much better in practices than he had at Cup of China, and his quad was looking better as well. However, in competition today, the World silver medalist stumbled on the quad toe.
“Nerves played a role and my timing was off,” he later explained. “It was not such a bad mistake, though, and I am more confident about the quad.”
The Japanese champion rallied back to land a triple Lutz-triple toe and a triple Axel, and also maxed out his levels with a level four for all three spins and the circular step sequence. He earned a new season’s best of 87.47 (45.07/42.40) points.
“Technically, there were some mistakes in my jumps and spins and I need to work on that more,” the 26-year-old commented. “Compared to the performance I showed in China, I have come back and I’m able to enjoy skating this program as well. I think it’s been a confidence booster.”
“I know it is tough to catch up in points,” Takahashi added, “but I need just to focus on what I want to show to the audience. I don’t have the leisure to think about other skaters.”
Fernández is just a little more than one point behind at 86.23 (46.80/39.43) points, which was also a season’s best. Skating to music from the The Mask of Zorro, the Spaniard pulled off a beautiful quadruple toe, but the triple Axel and triple Lutz-triple toe seemed a little labored in comparison. The Grand Prix Final bronze medalist picked up a level four for the flying upright spin and the change sit spin.
“I am really happy with this performance,” said the 21-year-old. “It was a good start and a good ending, and I fought for absolutely everything in the program. I am happy, because the work we’ve done in Toronto is working.”
Fernández, who trains alongside Hanyu in Toronto, Can., stayed and cheered for Hanyu, who skated right after him.
“I was like (coach) Brian (Orser), living the program emotionally,” said Fernández. “Everyday Yuzuru has to do his best, and he got his high score again and he deserved it. I am happy for him.”
USA’s Ross Miner placed fourth at 72.40 points after he doubled his planned quad Salchow. However, he landed the triple Axel and triple Lutz-triple toe combo, and earned level fours for the spins and footwork.
Editor’s Note: The following day, Miner’s score was changed to 73.41 as it was discovered that the second half bonus was not awarded to his triple Lutz-triple toe. The element was performed at the half time mark at 1:25.
The Men ranked fifth to seventh are separated by less than one point.
Canadian Kevin Reynolds hit his quadruple Salchow-triple toe combination, but the triple Axel was underrotated and he the fell on the triple Lutz to finish fifth with 70.20 points.
USA’s Richard Dornbush crashed on the quad toe, held on to the triple Axel, but then did just a triple Lutz-single toe combo. He is currently ranked sixth at 70.05 points.
Sergei Voronov of Russia did his quad toe too close to the boards and only tacked a single toe on to it. He also put down his hand on the triple loop, and came in seventh (70.03 points).
USA’s Adam Rippon singled his Axel and stands in eighth place (67.89 points), while Andrei Rogozine of Canada missed his quad toe to finish ninth (67.70 points).
Japan’s Daisuke Murakami fell on the quad Salchow and triple Axel, and partially dislocated his right shoulder. Though he tried to continue, he was unable to and was taken to hospital.