Yuzuru Hanyu

Yuzuru Hanyu finishes second at Cup of China after bloody warm-up collision (video)

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Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu collided with another skater in the Cup of China free skate warm-up, bled, competed with his head wrapped, fell five times in his performance and finished in second place Saturday.

Hanyu, in his first top-level competition since winning the World Championships in March, and China’s Han Yan collided near center ice at the Shanghai venue while preparing for their free skate.

Hanyu lay on the ice for several seconds, blood streaming down his chin, before two officials with medical uniforms on reached him.

Once off the ice, China’s Han lay motionless while being tended to just behind the boards. Han performed his free skate 45 minutes later and finished sixth.

Hanyu was taken farther off the ice and checked out while sitting down. He returned to warm up and appeared disoriented, pointing to his head multiple times.

“He was immediately determined he wanted to compete, and for me, I wanted to make sure he was healthy enough,” said Hanyu’s coach, two-time Olympic silver medalist Brian Orser, according to The Associated Press. “I told him, ‘This is not the time to be a hero. You have to take care of yourself.”’

Hanyu skated about 50 minutes later, fell five times in his “Phantom of the Opera” performance and finished in second place, just as he was after the short program Friday.

Hanyu had to be held up by Orser after he stepped off the ice following his free skate.

“You’ve got to keep breathing, OK?” Orser told him. “Hang onto the boards.”

Russian Maksim Kovtun won with 243.34 points. Hanyu scored 237.55. American Richard Dornbush took third with 226.73.

Hanyu bawled in the kiss and cry area after his score came up, appearing overjoyed.

“I know that tomorrow he’s going to feel like he was hit by a car,” Orser said later, according to the AP. “Both of these boys are going to feel awful.”

Hanyu was attempting be the third different Japanese man to win in the first three Grand Prix events of the season, a feat never done by any nation.

In the women’s competition, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva became the third different Russian woman to win in the first three events this season. That is unprecedented.

Tuktamysheva overtook short program leader Yulia Lipnitskaya, the World silver medalist, after Lipnitskaya fell on a triple Salchow and popped two other jumps in her free skate.

Tuktamysheva, who was 10th at last season’s Russian Championships, stayed on her skates Saturday and landed six triple jumps.

Polina Edmunds, the youngest U.S. Olympic figure skater since Tara Lipinski in 1998, rebounded from a seventh-place short program with the second-best free skate behind Tuktamysheva.

Edmunds landed seven triple jumps and finished in fourth place in her Grand Prix debut.

In ice dance, U.S. Olympic siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani finished second after leading following the short dance Friday.

The Grand Prix season continues next week with the Rostelecom Cup, the fourth of six events before the Grand Prix Final.

NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra will air Cup of China coverage Sunday from 4-6 p.m. ET.

Lindsey Vonn could return early from knee injury

Cup of China men’s results
1. Maksim Kovtun (RUS) — 243.34
2. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 237.55
3. Richard Dornbush (USA) — 226.73

Leaders in Grand Prix season
1. Tatsuki Machida (JPN) — 269.09 (Skate America)
2. Takahito Mura (JPN) — 255.81 (Skate Canada)
3. Javier Fernandez (ESP) — 244.87 (Skate Canada)
4. Maksim Kovtun (RUS) — 243.34 (Cup of China)
5. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 237.55 (Cup of China)
6. Jason Brown (USA) — 234.17 (Skate America)
7. Nam Nguyen (CAN) — 232.24 (Skate America)
Olympic silver medalist Patrick Chan not competing in Grand Prixs.

U.S. men’s leaders in Grand Prix season
1. Jason Brown — 234.17 (Skate America)
2. Max Aaron — 231.77 (Skate Canada)
3. Stephen Carriere — 231.67 (Skate Canada)
4. Richard Dornbush — 226.73 (Cup of China)
5. Jeremy Abbott — 219.33 (Skate America)
6. Douglas Razzano — 204.48 (Skate America)
7. Adam Rippon — 201.92 (Skate Canada)

Cup of China women’s results
1. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (RUS) — 196.6
2. Yulia Lipnitskaya (RUS) — 173.57
3. Kanako Murakami (JPN) — 169.39
4. Polina Edmunds (USA) — 161.27
9. Christina Gao (USA) — 125.04
10. Ashley Cain (USA) — 124.81

Leaders in Grand Prix season
1. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (RUS) — 196.6 (Cup of China)
2. Elena Radionova (RUS) — 195.47 (Skate America)
3. Anna Pogorilaya (RUS) — 191.81 (Skate Canada)
4. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (RUS) — 189.62 (Skate America)
5. Ashley Wagner (USA) — 186 (Skate Canada)
6. Satoko Miyahara (JPN) — 181.75 (Skate Canada)
7. Gracie Gold (USA) — 179.38 (Skate America)
Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova to debut at NHK Trophy in three weeks. 

U.S. leaders in Grand Prix season
1. Ashley Wagner — 186 (Skate Canada)
2. Gracie Gold — 179.38 (Skate America)
3. Samantha Cesario — 174.58 (Skate America)
4. Courtney Hicks — 174.51 (Skate Canada)
5. Polina Edmunds — 161.27 (Cup of China)
6. Mirai Nagasu — 158.21 (Skate America)

Nathan Chen hopes to hip hop his way to Skate America crown

AP
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LAS VEGAS — In Las Vegas on Friday, an elegant Nathan Chen performed a romantic short program to Charles Aznavour’s “La Boheme,” earning 102.71 points and a 6.14-point lead at Skate America.

When the two-time world champion takes the ice for his free skate on Saturday, he’ll pop and lock to music from the Elton John biopic Rocketman — for the last 30 seconds or so of the program, he’ll be a hip hop dancer on skates.

After choreographer Marie-France Dubreuil presented Chen with the idea, it took him a while, or at least a couple of minutes, to get used to it.

“Originally, she just said Rocketman and I said, ‘Oh yeah, that’s fine,’” Chen said. “Then she threw in the hip hop. I said, ‘Wait a minute.’ She didn’t tell me until I got there and she played the music.”

“I figured it would be fine,” he added. “My issue was telling [coach] Raf [Arutunian]. I didn’t tell him until I got back to California, but when I did tell him he was actually totally on board with it.”

Whatever concerns the coach may have had vanished when Chen showed him the steps, created with Dubreuil’s collaborator Samuel Chouinard.

“First of all, it looks like it’s professionally done and he executes it professionally,” Arutunian said. “I was watching ice dance last year and many of couples (were) doing hip hop dancing, and I think he would be one of the best at it. If you do something, you should do well, and he is doing it so professionally, you cannot feel he has blades on. He manipulates his feet like he is in shoes.”

This isn’t exactly Chen’s first try at hip hop. He touched on it last season in his “Land of All” free skate, also created with Dubreuil and Chouinard.

“I was actually pretty cool with it because I worked with Sam last year. We did a tiny bit of hip hop to incorporate (into the program), it wasn’t truly hip hop,” Chen said. “I knew that’s (Sam’s) specialty, that’s what he’s great at, and I figured it would be fine.”

Chouinard, a Montreal-based choreographer and dancer, has created hip hop programs for other skaters, including Canada’s two-time Olympic ice dance champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. Many ice dancers incorporated hip hop into their short dances for the 2016-2017 season. But as Chen notes, trying it in men’s singles competition is a different story.

“I did consider that,” he admitted. “I haven’t seen much of this. I know (U.S. skater) Philip Warren has done something like it this year and other kids have, and of course dancers did it. It wasn’t something that is never done, but rarely do you see it with the top six guys (in the world).”

MORE: Nathan Chen calls 3 quads at Skate America ‘a given’

Chen has to be encouraged by the reaction of spectators at his practices here, who screamed and clapped when the skater busted his moves.

“It’s a judged sport and the way the audience reacts to the program has some influence on how the judges interpret your performance,” he said. “I think we don’t want to stick to one demographic in terms of the fan base, the audience. It’s nice to incorporate everything. It’s cool to see all the guys competing have completely different styles, so each program new, unique and fresh.”

Now a sophomore at Yale University, Chen’s balancing act between studies as a Statistics and Data Science major and elite figure skater competitor, is getting a bit trickier.

“Homework is time consuming, each homework assignment takes six to 12 hours to finish and I have a couple per week, so that’s a lot,” he said. “It’s mostly exam times that are really challenging, right now is a little bit easier time for me at school. Obviously it’s going to pick up. It’s tough, but as much as I’m in the situation, I just have to manage as best I can.”

Fortunately, Skate America takes place during an academic break. Japan Open earlier this month was another story; the trip caused him to miss a midterm exam, which he later made up.

“Competition after competition keeps me motivated, knowing I have to achieve a certain goal at each competition,” Chen said. “That’s what drives me through practices.”

MORE: How to watch Skate America

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Check out a free trial of the Figure Skating Pass during Skate America from Oct. 18-20. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

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Nathan Chen holds commanding lead over Skate America men’s field

AP
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Nathan Chen is on his way to winning his third Skate America title this weekend in Las Vegas to open the 2019-20 Grand Prix season. The two-time world champion hasn’t lost a Grand Prix event since his silver medal at the Grand Prix Final in 2016, and is about to make that list longer.

(In case you were wondering, Todd Eldredge has the most Skate America wins from the ’90s, with five.)

Chen, a sophomore at Yale University, scored 102.71 points in Friday’s short program and was the only man to break the 100-point barrier. Chen opened his short program, set to “La Boheme,” with a quadruple Lutz, followed by a triple Axel and a quad toe-triple toe combination.

Skate America results are here.

“I’m not entirely happy with how the program went, however, since this is the first outing, I’m pretty okay with how things went,” Chen said through U.S. Figure Skating. “I’m looking forward to competing tomorrow and hopefully cleaning up some of the mistakes I made today and keep moving forward.”

Russia’s Dmitry Aliev is in second place heading into Saturday’s free skate, trailing Chen at 96.57 points. His short program also included a quad Lutz and a quad toe. Canada’s Keegan Messing notched a personal best short program score with 96.34 points and is in third place.

2014 Olympian Jason Brown finds himself in fourth place with 83.45 points. Brown popped his triple Axel attempt into a single, which received zero points.

“It was a lapse of focus in the moment,” Brown said of his Axel attempt. “I should not have missed it; I have not missed one all week. I’m very irritated with myself. In the moment, you have to try not to relive it. Whether I was trying to stay relaxed about it or whether I was trying to attack it, I can’t remember. But I remember a moment of something right before [it happened]. I just said, ‘Don’t show emotion, just keep going.’ I think my experience definitely serves me well when it comes to making mistakes and having to pick back up like nothing happened. But that irritation doesn’t go away.”

The third American man in the field, Alex Krasnozhon, is in 10th place with 72.30 points.

MORE: How to watch Skate America

China’s Peng Cheng and Jin Yang, fourth at worlds last year, took a slim lead in the pairs’ short program earlier Friday. They told a 1.48 point lead over Russia’s Daria Pavliuchenko and Denis Khodykin, who sit in second place.

U.S. reigning national champions Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc are third with 68.20 points. The other two American teams in the field, Haven Denney and Brandon Frasier and Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson, are fourth and fifth, respectively.

“We’re building toward the world championships, and we’ve been very outspoken about our goal to be in the top five at worlds,” LeDuc said through U.S. Figure Skating. “Salt Lake was the first step, this is another. We’re building, and I think we’re really right on track for what we want. To have a big mistake in the program and still have a 68 is really awesome. We’re in a good place and excited to go into the free skate as well.”

Skate America continues Friday with the rhythm dance and ladies’ short programs, followed by the free skates in all disciplines on Saturday from Las Vegas. All of it can be seen live with the NBC Sports Gold “Figure Skating Pass,” which is offering a free trial for Skate America.

MORE: Nathan Chen calls 3 quads at Skate America ‘a given’

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Check out a free trial of the Figure Skating Pass during Skate America from Oct. 18-20. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

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