Two highest-ever scores as Chan trounces in Paris

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Out of superlatives to describe Patrick Chan’s performance at the Trophee Eric Bompard in Paris, one had to turn to the made-up variety: “Chan-tastic!” “Chan-neling greatness!” “Chan the man!”

Once again Saturday the reigning and three-time world champion from Canada delivered a highest-ever score (also known as a world record) at the fifth Grand Prix of the season, registering a 196.75 in the free skate for a 295.27 total to run away with the gold medal.

“Is that a world record?” asked his coach Kathy Johnson in the Kiss and Cry. “I think it’s a world record.”

There was no doubting the 22-year-old’s performance, which included two cleanly-landed quadruple jumps and seven triples, executed precisely by the skater that many believe to be the favorite for the Sochi Olympics come February.

Overall, Chan scored the highest score ever in all three categories this weekend: the short program, the free skate and the overall score.

Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu delivered a strong performance, skating to second place with a 263.59 while American Jason Brown, just 18, was third. The bronze-medal finish for Brown marks his first Senior Grand Prix podium in just two appearances.

Earlier, in the pairs competition, two-time world champions Pang Qing and Tong Jian edged out Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford for the gold medal. Americans Caydee Denney and John Coughlin captured the bronze, up a spot from fourth place after the short program.

While the day belonged to Chan, the ripples of Brown’s energetic program and third-place finish in Paris will be felt across the Atlantic, where he joins Adam Rippon as two skaters who are shaking up the men’s field leading into the U.S. Championships in January, where just two Olympic spots are available for Team USA.

Skating to Riverdance’s “Reel Around the Sun,” Brown hit seven triple jumps and only faltered one, popping an Axel into a single.

“Oh my god!” exclaimed Brown as his score, a personal best of 243.09, popped up. He covered his face in disbelief.

Brown’s score is first among the American men this season, edging out scores from Rippon and Max Aaron’s performances from Skate America.

China’s Yan Han, who won the Cup of China earlier this month, faltered in his free skate, not able to challenge Brown for the podium. It was a disappointing weekend for the 17 year old, who was seen – along with Hanyu – as a challenger to Chan.

But Hanyu was the only skater to chase Chan in the slightest, though he fell on a quadruple toe in his long program.

“We can add 20 more points to that total,” said his coach, former Olympian Brian Orser, after the marks came through.

Denney/Coughlin, the 2012 U.S. champions, landed on their first podium of the season after finishing fourth at Skate America last month. Russians Vera Bazarova and Yuri Lariyonov dropped from third place to fourth overall.

Later Saturday the ice dance and Ladies’ programs come to a close, where Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and American Ashley Wagner are leaders, respectively, coming into the long programs.

FULL RESULTS
Men’s
Patrick CHAN                CAN       295.27
Yuzuru HANYU                JPN       263.59
Jason BROWN                 USA       243.09
Han YAN                     CHN       214.23
Michal BREZINA              CZE       206.22
Nan SONG                    CHN       204.73
Florent AMODIO             FRA       191.13
Alexander MAJOROV     SWE       180.62

Pairs
Qing PANG / Jian TONG                    CHN       193.86
Meagan DUHAMEL / Eric RADFORD            CAN       190.89
Caydee DENNEY / John COUGHLIN            USA       184.01
Vera BAZAROVA / Yuri LARIONOV            RUS        180.07
Vanessa JAMES / Morgan CIPRES            FRA       172.27
Natasha PURICH / Mervin TRAN             CAN       162.09
Annabelle PRÖLSS / Ruben BLOMMAERT       GER       157.62
Nicole DELLA MONICA / Matteo GUARISE     ITA        147.88

Yuzuru Hanyu opens Olympic season with record score

Yuzuru Hanyu
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A sore knee didn’t hold Yuzuru Hanyu back. A record score to open his Olympic season.

The Olympic and world champion from Japan hit a pair of quadruple jumps in his short program at the Autumn Classic, a lower-level event in Montreal.

He was rewarded with 112.72 points, the highest short program score recorded under the 13-year-old judging system. Video is here.

It looked like a home competition for Hanyu.

Upon finishing, he bowed toward one set of bleachers (maybe a dozen rows) at the Sportsplexe Pierrefonds. More than two dozen Japanese flags made it hard to see most of the faces.

He bettered Javier Fernández, a two-time world champion and training partner, by 11.52 points. Fernández also landed two quadruple jumps to tally 101.2.

Full scores will be here upon the conclusion of the short program. The free skate is Saturday at 8 p.m. ET. A live stream is here.

Hanyu now owns the three highest short program scores under the 13-year-old system. The other two were set in the 2015-16 season.

Showdowns like Hanyu-Fernández are usually reserved for, at the earliest, the Grand Prix series in late October and November.

Hanyu and Fernández are very familiar with each other, having shared a coach in Canadian Brian Orser, the 1988 Olympic silver medalist, since 2012. They train in Toronto.

In that time, Hanyu became the first Japanese man to win an Olympic title (and the second teen from any nation to do it). He followed it up with world titles later in 2014 and this year.

Fernández achieved unfathomable success for a Spanish skater — world titles in 2015 and 2016, overtaking Hanyu in the free skate both times.

In PyeongChang, Hanyu can become the first man to repeat as Olympic champion since Dick Button in 1952. Fernández can become the third Spaniard to earn a Winter Olympic medal of any color in any sport, and the first since 1992.

The figure skating season continues next week with Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany, the final Olympic qualifying competition. North Korea could clinch its first spots in any sport for the Olympics in the pairs event.

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USOC letter assures Olympians about South Korea security

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The U.S. Olympic Committee’s security chief sent a letter to potential Winter Olympians saying there are no indications that recent developments between the U.S. and North Korea have compromised security in South Korea.

The letter, obtained by The Associated Press shortly after it was sent Friday, makes no suggestion that the U.S. is considering skipping the PyeongChang Winter Games for security reasons.

But Chief Security Officer Nicole Deal does write that provocations that have been volleyed between the United States and North Korea are likely to persist for the foreseeable future, and “should not be dismissed as insignificant nor feared as precursors of an inevitable conflict.”

The letter comes at the end of a week in which France’s sports minister suggested the country’s athletes would stay home if security could not be guaranteed.

The International Olympic Committee, trying to calm concerns, reiterated that in conversations with high-level officials in China and South Korea, none have expressed doubt about the Winter Games proceeding as scheduled, next February.

The USOC also sent out a public statement Friday from CEO Scott Blackmun.

“We will continue to work with our State Department and local organizers to ensure that our athletes, and our entire delegation, are safe,” he said.

The letter, sent to athletes, national governing bodies and other Olympic leaders in the United States, said the USOC’s security division is operating as “business as usual for our security planning and preparations.”

Deal writes that the USOC is reviewing crisis management plans that address a range of potential scenarios “to ensure our athletes, and our entire delegation, are safe.”

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