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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