Nathan Chen set the bar last week. Now it’s Yuzuru Hanyu‘s turn.
Hanyu makes his Grand Prix season debut at Skate Canada in Kelowna, B.C., streaming live on NBC Sports Gold on Friday and Saturday. NBC airs highlights Sunday from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.
Hanyu, the two-time Olympic champion and Japanese megastar, is a clear favorite against a field lacking any of the other top-10 skaters from last season. Hanyu’s competition these days is the world champion Chen, even though they won’t go head-to-head until December at the earliest.
Chen opened his campaign last week at Skate America, totaling 299.09 points, tops in the world this season. Hanyu had been No. 1, after tallying 279.05 at a lower-level event in Canada in September.
Hanyu has conquered rivals before — Patrick Chan and Javier Fernandez, most notably. But neither boasted the jumping arsenal of Chen, who has the ability to land six quads in a free skate.
Chen comfortably outscored Hanyu in their last three head-to-head programs, including at last season’s worlds. Granted, Hanyu entered that event having not competed in four months due to another right ankle injury and, after taking silver at worlds, was withdrawn from the World Team Trophy to recover from said injury.
“I have never seen [Hanyu] at this time of the year to be so focused,” coach Brian Orser said in September. “When we were trying to surpass Patrick Chan, [Chan] was the benchmark. … We had to play to Patrick’s strengths, which was components [artistry]. … We had to build a plan to catch them and exceed them [the components] to get where he wants to be. Now, to get where he wants to be, he has to use himself as the measure.”
The women’s competition at Skate Canada is more decorated.
It features the top-ranked skater on the young season — Russian 15-year-old Alexandra Trusova — who landed four quads in her most recent free skate.
In her senior Grand Prix debut, Trusova takes on Olympic silver medalist and two-time world champion Yevgenia Medvedeva, who seeks her first top-level international win in nearly two years. Plus, Japanese Rika Kihira, the top skater from the 2018 Grand Prix season, and 2018 U.S. champion Bradie Tennell, who earned silver at Skate America.
World medalists Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue headline the pairs’ and ice dance fields, respectively.
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. 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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Skate Canada Broadcast Schedule
|Friday||2 p.m.||Rhythm Dance||NBC Sports Gold | STREAM LINK|
|3:30 p.m.||Women’s Short||NBC Sports Gold | STREAM LINK|
|7 p.m.||Pairs’ Short||NBC Sports Gold | STREAM LINK|
|8 p.m.||Men’s Short||NBC Sports Gold | STREAM LINK|
|Saturday||2 p.m.||Free Dance||NBC Sports Gold | STREAM LINK|
|4 p.m.||Women’s Free||NBC Sports Gold | STREAM LINK|
|7:45 p.m.||Pairs’ Free||NBC Sports Gold | STREAM LINK|
|9:30 p.m.||Men’s Free||NBC Sports Gold | STREAM LINK|
|Sunday||4:30-6 p.m.||Highlights||NBC | STREAM LINK|