Olympic and World champion Yuzuru Hanyu posted the highest short program score this Grand Prix season, despite a fall, to lead the Grand Prix Final in Barcelona on Friday.
Hanyu, a 20-year-old from Japan, tallied 94.08 points. He takes a 6.26-point lead over countryman Tatsuki Machida into the free skate Saturday. Hanyu and Machida went one-two at the World Championships in March.
Hanyu suffered a head injury in a warm-up collison at Cup of China on Nov. 8 and snuck into the Grand Prix Final in the sixth and final qualifying spot by .15 of a point in the last Grand Prix series event two weeks ago.
In Barcelona, Hanyu landed a quadruple toe loop and triple Axel before falling on the back end of a triple-triple combination. He’s in position to become the third man to repeat as Grand Prix Final champion, joining Yegeny Plushenko and Patrick Chan, the Olympic silver medalist who is sitting out this Grand Prix season.
The most anticipated skater of the night, Spain’s Javier Fernandez, placed fifth, behind the Japanese and Russians Maksim Kovtun and Sergey Voronov. Fernandez, competing under the pressure and expectations of being Spain’s only world-class skater, fell on his opening quadruple jump, doubled the first jump of a triple-triple combination and tripped before a spin.
Earlier in the short dance, Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje took a 6.28-point lead over Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates. Another U.S. couple, Maia and Alex Shibutani, was third.
Weaver and Poje won World Championships silver, while Chock and Bates, who fell in their short dance, were the top qualifiers into the Grand Prix Final.
The Grand Prix Final concludes will all of the free skates Saturday. Icenetwork.com will stream all the sessions to subscribers live.
NBC will air coverage Sunday (4-6 p.m. ET).
Men’s short program
1. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 94.08
2. Tatsuki Machida (JPN) — 87.82
3. Maksim Kovtun (RUS) — 87.02
4. Sergey Voronov (RUS) — 84.48
5. Javier Fernandez (ESP) — 79.18
6. Takahito Mura (JPN) — 78.35
1. Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje (CAN) — 71.34
2. Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA) — 65.06
3. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 63.9
4. Piper Gilles/Paul Poirer (CAN) — 62.49
5. Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) — 61.48
6. Yelena Ilinykh/Ruslan Zhiganshin (RUS) — 60.25