Yuzuru Hanyu wins Four Continents; next: world championships and Nathan Chen

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Yuzuru Hanyu overcame an unspecified problem before taking the ice to win the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships, a tune-up event for next month’s world championships.

Hanyu, the two-time Olympic champion, totaled 299.42 points — a world-record 111.82-point short program followed by Sunday’s 187.60-point free skate with four quadruple jump attempts (and a fall). He distanced silver medalist Jason Brown of the U.S. by 24.6 points in Seoul.

“Before taking the ice, there was something not as usual happened, so it was difficult for me to concentrate,” Hanyu said through a translator, adding, according to the International Skating Union, that there was “a problem with the ice.” “To be honest, I wasn’t able to let myself really, really get into the program.

“I’m not able to say happy with my performance today, but I really wanted to get the win, so actually I am glad.”

Hanyu’s total score was 23.1 points shy of his season’s best and 35.88 points shy of American Nathan Chen‘s total at December’s Grand Prix Final. Chen, the two-time world champion undefeated since placing fifth at the PyeongChang Olympics, outscored Hanyu in their last five head-to-head programs starting with the Olympic free skate.

Chen skipped Four Continents to focus on Yale sophomore studies.

Hanyu completed a set of major championship titles with his first Four Continents crown. The event invites the top skaters from the Americas, Asia and Australia. Hanyu earned his first international medal at the event in 2011 at age 16, a silver.

Brown, the U.S. silver medalist, posted his highest-scoring free skate and highest total score of his senior international career. His free skate — to music from “Schindler’s List” — was strong save doubling a potential quadruple toe loop. He has yet to land a clean, fully rotated quad in competition, but Brown is now ranked fourth in the world this season.

“Overall, I’m really happy with my performance,” he said. “I had a little blip, which I would have loved to have tackled. I would have loved to skate completely clean. But I guess I have to leave a little left over for worlds.”

Earlier, Japanese favorite Rika Kihira won the women’s Four Continents title as one of three skaters to attempt a triple Axel in the free skate. She won by 11.11 points over South Korean 15-year-old You Young. U.S. Olympian Bradie Tennell took bronze.

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Injured Ilia Malinin wins Grand Prix Finland, qualifies for Grand Prix Final

Ilia Malinin
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Ilia Malinin, competing “a little bit injured” this week, still won Grand Prix Finland and goes into the Grand Prix Final in two weeks as the world’s top-ranked male singles skater.

Malinin, who was second after Friday’s short program, landed four clean quadruple jumps in Saturday’s free skate to overtake Frenchman Kevin Aymoz.

Malinin, who landed a quad flip in competition for the first time, according to SkatingScores.com, also attempted a quad Axel to open his program, but spun out of the landing and put his hand down on the ice.

Malinin also won his previous two starts this season in come-from-behind fashion. The 17-year-old world junior champion became the first skater to land a clean, fully rotated quad Axel in September, then did it again in October at Skate America, where he posted the world’s top overall score this season.

Next, Malinin can become the second-youngest man to win the Grand Prix Final after Russian Yevgeny Plushenko. His biggest competition is likely to be world champion Shoma Uno of Japan, who like Malinin won both of his Grand Prix starts this fall. Malinin and Uno have not gone head-to-head this season.

Grand Prix Finland highlights air on NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET.

FIGURE SKATING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Earlier, Japan’s Mai Mihara overtook world silver medalist Loena Hendrickx of Belgium to become the only woman to win both of her Grand Prix starts this season. Mihara prevailed by .23 of a point. The top three women this season by best total score are Japanese, led by a junior skater, 14-year-old Mao Shimada, who isn’t Olympic age-eligible until 2030.

Mihara and Hendrickx qualified for the Grand Prix Final, joining world champion Kaori Sakamoto and Rinka Watanabe, both of Japan, South Korean Yelim Kim and American Isabeau Levito, the world junior champion.

Italians Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini won both pairs’ programs and qualified for their first Grand Prix Final.

Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara and Americans Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier headline the Final. Both pairs won each of their Grand Prix starts earlier this fall. The Japanese have the world’s two best scores this season. The Americans are reigning world champions.

At least one Russian or Chinese pair made every Grand Prix Final podium — usually pairs from both countries — but neither nation competed in pairs this Grand Prix season. All Russian skaters are banned due to the war in Ukraine. China’s lone entry on the Grand Prix across all disciplines was an ice dance couple.

Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier improved on their world-leading score for this season in winning the ice dance by 17.03 points over Americans Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker. Both couples qualified for the Grand Prix Final in the absence of all three Olympic medalists this fall.

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Lara Gut-Behrami wins Killington giant slalom, and the overall title race may be on

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Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami rallied from third place after the first run for her 35th career World Cup victory, taking a giant slalom in Killington, Vermont, on Saturday.

Gut-Behrami, 31, earned her fifth World Cup giant slalom win and first in six years. She prevailed by .07 of a second over Italian Marta Bassino combining times from two windy runs. Sweden’s Sara Hector, the Olympic champion and first-run leader, ended up third.

“Last two years I’ve been getting better in GS again,” said Gut-Behrami, who won the GS at the last world championships in 2021. “Last year I was struggling with my health. I was all the time sick.”

ALPINE SKIING: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Gut-Behrami’s best events are downhill and super-G, so a strong start to the season in GS could put her on a path to winning the World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing. She previously lifted that crystal globe in 2016.

Reigning World Cup overall champ Mikaela Shiffrin, who previously placed second, third, fourth and fifth in Killington giant slaloms, finished 13th after winning the season’s first two races, slaloms in Finland last week. It marked her lowest World Cup GS finish since December 2019.

“[Finland] was a spectacular weekend,” Shiffrin, who has not had much recent GS training, said after her 10th-place opening run Saturday. “Every race is a different story.”

Shiffrin won all five World Cup slaloms in Killington dating to 2016 and will go for her 50th career World Cup slalom victory across all venues on Sunday (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC and Peacock).

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