Daisuke Murakami

Patrick Chan outduels Yuzuru Hanyu at Skate Canada in comeback

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Patrick Chan kneeled, covered his face and took in the noise of the Alberta crowd and the wave of Canadian flags. He said he felt like the Chan of old.

The three-time World champion came all the way back after a one year-break, beating the man who kept him from Olympic gold and overtaking the short program leader to win Skate Canada on Saturday night.

“It’s been a battle,” Chan said in the kiss-and-cry area shortly before his score was announced — 271.14 total points, which would have won silver at last season’s World Championships.

Chan, who last skated at the top international level earning two silver medals at the Sochi Olympics, bettered Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu by 11.6 points for his fifth Skate Canada title and 12th overall in the Grand Prix series.

Short program leader Daisuke Murakami finished third, followed by U.S. silver medalist Adam Rippon and Canadian champion Nam Nguyen.

NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra will air Skate Canada coverage Sunday from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.

“A big relief,” Chan told CBC. “It was a challenging day, but I’m really pleased with the results. I didn’t think it would turn out this way. I had no expectations, results-wise.”

Chan said he covered his face after a clean, 4-minute, 30-second free skate because he couldn’t believe what had happened given how he felt just before taking the ice.

“I really was lost and didn’t know where to start and was really scared to go out and skate,” he said in a press conference. “Talked it through [with coach Kathy Johnson], stepped on the ice and really skated with no thought of who’s around and who’s watching, just really skating because it feels good.

“As vulnerable as it was and uncomfortable and kind of embarrassing, you’ve got to have those moments to take that next step sometimes,” he told CBC.

Chan was in second place behind Japan’s Daisuke Murakami after Friday’s short program, when he fell on a triple Axel and doubled a planned triple Lutz.

“Maybe in the short program I was thinking too much about, I want to show people that I’m back,” Chan said.

He cleaned up in the free skate, opening with a quadruple toe loop-triple toe loop combination and then nailing the triple Axel.

Hanyu, who was sixth in the short program due to receiving zero points on two of his three jumping passes, improved to pass everybody but Chan on Saturday. Hanyu landed three quadruple jumps and then fell on a triple Lutz.

“I felt more about skating my best and just showing what I’ve been doing at the practice rather than try and skate clean,” Hanyu said through a translator in a press conference.

The Grand Prix series continues with the Cup of China next week. Chan will next compete in Trophee Bompard in France the following week. Hanyu’s next competition is NHK Trophy in Japan in four weeks.

MORE FIGURE SKATING: Full season broadcast schedule

Ashley Wagner leads Skate Canada as Olympic, World champions struggle

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Ashley Wagner recorded a personal-best short program and leads Skate Canada heading into Saturday’s free skate.

Wagner, a three-time U.S. champion, landed all of her jumps cleanly for 70.73 points, her first time breaking the 70-point barrier. She has a comfortable 7.38-point lead over Japan’s Yuka Nagai.

“I like to think that that performance is just kind of a preview of what I’m capable of,” Wagner said in Lethbrige, Alberta. “I was skating in shows all summer, so I had about a month to really get everything together. … I think that there is more to come with that program. The more I get comfortable with the style and the movement, I think it will just build on top of that.”

World champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva of Russia followed Wagner with a sluggish performance on her jumps for 55.37 points, good enough for seventh place.

Tuktamysheva, who was 10th at the 2013 Russian Championships, won eight titles last season, including sweeping the Grand Prix Final, European Championships and Worlds.

U.S. Olympian Polina Edmunds placed fifth in the short program, under-rotating two jumps.

The men’s competition provided a surprise leader in Japan’s Daisuke Murakami, who totaled 80.88 to edge Olympic silver medalist and three-time World champion Patrick Chan by .07.

The Canadian Chan, back after taking one season off, fell on a triple Axel and doubled a planned triple Lutz.

“Frustrating,” Chan said, according to The Associated Press. “Better next time.”

Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu also struggled, receiving zero points on two of his three jumping passes, and is in sixth place.

Icenetwork.com will broadcast Saturday’s free skates (2 p.m. ET for women; 8:45 for men) live for subscribers. NBC will air coverage Sunday from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.

MORE FIGURE SKATING: Full season broadcast schedule

Yuzuru Hanyu sneaks into Grand Prix Final

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Olympic and World champion Yuzuru Hanyu earned the last berth in the Grand Prix Final by finishing fourth — barely — at the NHK Trophy in Osaka, Japan, on Saturday.

Hanyu fell in both of his programs at NHK Trophy, not at his best three weeks after a warm-up collision at the Cup of China.

“I feel I made the right decision to compete,” Hanyu said, according to the Japan Times. “I wasn’t in the best shape physically or mentally, but am proud that I was able to take part in the two events after the accident happened.”

He finished 16.27 points behind winner Daisuke Murakami on Saturday.

More importantly, he finished .15 ahead of American Jeremy Abbott. Had Abbott beaten Hanyu, American Jason Brown would have made the Grand Prix Final over Hanyu.

The Grand Prix Final, which is in two weeks in Barcelona, is the biggest annual international competition outside the World Championships. It takes the top six skaters per discipline from the six-event Grand Prix series, which concluded with NHK Trophy.

A U.S. man didn’t qualify for the Grand Prix Final for a third straight year. At no other stretch in the 20-year history of the series had U.S. men gone back-to-back years shut out of the Grand Prix Final.

Abbott was in position to make the Grand Prix Final after the short program Friday. But he dropped from second to fifth and out of contention.

Brown performed the best of the U.S. men in the Grand Prix season and will be favored to win his first U.S. title in January. Abbott is among the contenders to grab one of three U.S. men’s spots in the World Championships in March.

Murakami, who formerly represented the U.S., rallied from third after the short program to notch the biggest win of his career in his first Grand Prix appearance in three years.

NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra will air NHK Trophy coverage Sunday from 4-6 p.m. ET.

Gracie Gold wins her first Grand Prix, makes GP Final

NHK Trophy men’s results
1. Daisuke Murakami (JPN) — 246.07
2. Sergey Voronov (RUS) — 236.65
3. Takahito Mura (JPN) — 234.44
4. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 229.8
5. Jeremy Abbott (USA) — 229.65
7. Ross Miner (USA) — 205.36
11. Josh Farris (USA) — 169.88

Leaders in Grand Prix season
1. Tatsuki Machida (JPN) — 269.09 (Skate America)
2. Javier Fernandez (ESP) — 265.01 (Rostelecom Cup)
3. Takahito Mura (JPN) — 255.81 (Skate Canada)
4. Sergey Voronov (RUS) — 252 (Rostelecom Cup)
5. Daisuke Murakami (JPN) — 246.07 (NHK Trophy)
6. Javier Fernandez (ESP) — 244.87 (Skate Canada)
7. Maksim Kovtun (RUS) — 243.35 (Trophee Bompard)
8. Maksim Kovtun (RUS) — 243.34 (Cup of China)
9. Michal Brezina (CZE) — 241.23 (Rostelecom Cup)
10. Misha Ge (UZB) — 238.05 (Rostelecom Cup)
Olympic silver medalist Patrick Chan not competing in Grand Prixs.

U.S. leaders in Grand Prix season
1. Jason Brown — 235.56 (Rostelecom Cup)
2. Jason Brown — 234.17 (Skate America)
3. Max Aaron — 231.77 (Skate Canada)
4. Stephen Carriere — 231.67 (Skate Canada)
5 . Jeremy Abbott — 229.65 (NHK Trophy)
6. Richard Dornbush — 226.73 (Cup of China)
7. Adam Rippon — 225.42 (Trophee Bompard)
8. Jeremy Abbott — 219.33 (Skate America)

Grand Prix Final qualifiers
1. Maksim Kovtun (RUS)
2. Javier Fernandez (ESP)
3. Tatsuki Machida (JPN)
4. Takahito Mura (JPN)
5. Sergey Voronov (RUS)
6. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN)