Even Yuzuru Hanyu can struggle in September.
The Olympic and world champion singled his first jump, doubled a few more and fell in the free skate of his opening event of the Olympic season on Saturday. Video is here.
He squandered an 11.52-point lead over two-time world champion Javier Fernández from Friday’s short program at the Autumn Classic in Montreal.
Hanyu ended up 10.83 points behind Fernández overall, even though the Spaniard also fell in his free skate.
It’s a familiar feeling for Hanyu, who saw Fernández pass him in the free skate at the 2015 and 2016 Worlds.
The Japanese megastar also been known to have clunker programs at fall events in past seasons. In every one of his senior seasons, Hanyu has been beaten in one of his first two competitions.
Hanyu came to Montreal with a sore knee, which reportedly led him to take the quadruple loop out of his repertoire for one weekend.
Still, Hanyu was marvelous in the short program. His score was the highest under the 13-year-old judging system.
Showdowns like Hanyu-Fernández are usually reserved for, at the earliest, the Grand Prix series in late October and November. The Autumn Classic is a lower-level event.
Hanyu, 22, next skates at the Rostelecom Cup in four weeks. He will face 18-year-old U.S. champion Nathan Chen, who beat Hanyu at the Four Continents Championships at the PyeongChang Olympic venue in February.
The figure skating season continues next weekend 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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Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Hanyu’s short program score was the second-highest under the 13-year-old judging system.