Yuzuru Hanyu earned a world-record short program score to take the lead in the men’s figure skating competition going into tomorrow’s free skate – an event that will also begin with Jason Brown of the U.S. in contention to win a medal in his first Olympics.
Hanyu became the first man to ever score more than 100 points in a short program and also eclipsed the previous top mark that he himself set in December, a 99.84 in the Grand Prix Final that took place on his home ground.
In that event, Hanyu was able to defeat three-time reigning world champion Patrick Chan, who finds himself looking up at the 19-year-old Japanese phenom in second place.
VIDEO: “Fireworks” for Hanyu’s skate
However, with a short program score of 97.52, Chan is well within striking distance for tomorrow’s free skate.
Third-place Javier Fernandez of Spain is farther back after a score of 86.98 and finds himself in a dogfight for bronze that has Brown right in the middle of it.
MORE: NBCOlympics.com photo gallery of today’s short program
The Highland Park, Illinois skater and YouTube star is one of three skaters within a single point of Fernandez going into the free skate, and one of five skaters within two points of the Spaniard.
Brown’s strong short program, set to Prince’s “The Question Of U”, netted a new personal-best score of 86.00 that eventually put him sixth.
The night got off to a dramatic start when Russian star Yevgeny Plushenko was forced to withdraw after an apparent injury in warmups.
Shortly afterwards, the 2006 Olympic men’s champion announced his retirement after helping Russia gain the gold last week in the inaugural team competition.
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More drama unfolded when Jeremy Abbott of the U.S. fell hard on his opening jump, staying on the ice for several seconds.
Spurred on by the crowd inside the Iceberg Skating Palace, Abbott got back up holding his side but then went on to finish out his program cleanly and with vigor.
The gritty display triggered waves of applause from the fans, who were seemingly revitalized after having gone into silence following the announcement of Plushenko’s withdrawal.
Abbott sits 15th going into the free skate.
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FIGURE SKATING – MEN’S SHORT PROGRAM (TOP 10)
1. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN), 101.45
2. Patrick Chan (CAN), 97.52
3. Javier Fernandez (ESP), 86.98
4. Daisuke Takahashi (JPN), 86.40
5. Peter Liebers (GER), 86.04
6. Jason Brown (USA), 86.00
7. Brian Joubert (FRA), 85.84
8. Han Yan (CHN), 85.66
9. Denis Tan (KAZ), 84.06
10. Alexander Majorov (SWE), 83.81
15. Jeremy Abbott (USA), 72.58