Mikhail Kolyada

Yuzuru Hanyu leads Rostelecom Cup with world’s top short program

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Yuzuru Hanyu left his fans in tears again with the highest-scoring short program in the world this season, taking a whopping lead at Rostelecom Cup in Moscow on Friday.

The double Olympic champion landed a quadruple Salchow, triple Axel and a quad toe loop-triple toe combination en route to 110.53 points. Hanyu previously had the world’s top short score of 106.69 from his Grand Prix season debut two weeks ago.

He leads Georgian Morisi Kvitelashvili by 20.59 going into Saturday’s free skate.

“I’m relieved,” Hanyu said, according to Kyodo News. “I’m still in my preparation mode in the sense that there were a number of issues I’ve been trying to iron out, and so I had some real anxieties coming in. So in that sense, being able to accomplish this is a relief.”

ROSTELECOM CUP: Results | TV/Stream Schedule

The pre-event favorites to join Hanyu on the podium were Canadian Keegan Messing and Russian Mikhail Kolyada, but both erred on all three of their jumping passes and sit seventh and eighth, respectively.

Hanyu’s real rivals are American Nathan Chen and Japanese Shoma Uno, whom he last faced at the Olympics. They are expected to meet in competition for the first time this season at December’s Grand Prix Final.

Rostelecom Cup continues later Friday with the rhythm dance and pairs’ and women’s short programs, streaming live on NBC Sports Gold.

As a reminder, you can watch the ISU Grand Prix Series live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. GO HERE 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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Yuzuru Hanyu wins Grand Prix of Helsinki in rout

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Yuzuru Hanyu left no doubt in winning his Grand Prix season debut for the first time in nine tries.

The double Olympic champion tallied 297.12 points to beat Czech Michal Brezina by 39.14 in Helsinki this weekend. It’s one of the largest margins of victory in Grand Prix series history.

Hanyu’s free skate on Sunday included a historic quadruple toe loop-triple Axel sequence with four total quads (though two were under-rotated). Hanyu’s total score is the best in the world this season, supplanting world champion Nathan Chen‘s 280.57 from Skate America two weeks ago.

However, Hanyu said his goal was to break 200 points in the free, and he came up 9.57 short.

“Not all the jumps were perfectly landed, but through the short and the free program I was on my feet, so I’m very happy about that,” he said through a translator.

Hanyu and Chen are expected to go head-to-head for the first time since the Olympics at December’s Grand Prix Final. Hanyu said he hopes to try a quad Axel this season, but not until after Japanese nationals in late December.

MORE: Full Results | Figure Skating TV Schedule

Brezina, 28, picked up his second silver of the Grand Prix season. He landed one quad in each Helsinki program, and though he fell in the free skate, he should be headed to the exclusive, six-skater Grand Prix Final for the first time since 2011.

South Korean Cha Jun-Whan took third for the second straight week. He was followed by the last two world bronze medalists, Russian Mikhail Kolyada and Chinese Jin Boyang, who each fell multiple times in the free skate. American Alex Krasnozhon was seventh.

The Grand Prix season continues next weekend at Japan’s NHK Trophy, headlined by Olympic silver medalists Shoma Uno and Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron.

As a reminder, you can watch the ISU Grand Prix Series live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. GO HERE 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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Nathan Chen wins world title by nearly 50 points after everyone falls

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Nathan Chen has the gold. It just came one month later than he had hoped (and against a much less impressive field).

The 18-year-old won the world championships on Saturday, becoming the first U.S. male singles skater to do so since Evan Lysacek in 2009 and the youngest man from any nation since Yevgeny Plushenko in 2001.

It came one month after Chen entered the Olympics as one of the favorites and finished fifth.

“I felt the pressure, but I used what I learned from the Olympics and tried to bring it here,” Chen said, adding that he wouldn’t trade this title for an Olympic gold.

Chen landed six quadruple jumps in his free skate (five clean), extending a 1.86-point lead from the short program to win by 47.63 points. Chen tallied personal-best free skate and total scores (219.46, 321.40), becoming the second man to break 320 total points after double Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu.

It’s the largest margin of victory in any event at an Olympics, worlds or Grand Prix Final under the 14-year-old points system.

Every other medal contender fell multiple times in the free skate. Chen, going last, said he was aware of that. Yet he still went all-out with six quads rather than the five he planned before going to Milan.

“That [the skaters’ falls] actually helped solidify my approach for six quads because it gave me an opportunity to make a mistake,” Chen said.

Olympic silver medalist Shoma Uno from Japan took silver despite three falls Saturday, reportedly skating through an ankle injury. Russian Mikhail Kolyada held on for bronze with two falls.

“I was not able to show my best,” Uno said, “but I did not give up until the end.”

American Vincent Zhou, third in the short program, also had three falls and ended up 14th. Jin Boyang, fourth in the short, fell five times and was 19th.

“I can’t even begin to describe how angry I am at myself for letting such an important FS [free skate] get away from me,” was tweeted from Zhou’s account, adding that he injured his back before leaving for Milan. “I’ve trained clean longs with 5 & 6 quads and I am so capable of being among the best.”

Later Saturday, French Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron rewrote the record books with the biggest ice dance blowout at an Olympics or worlds since the 6.0 was thrown out. A full recap is here.

WORLDS: Full Scores | Recaps | TV Schedule

Chen ended a season with six wins in seven events. That loss was costly, a fifth-place finish at the Olympics with that disastrous 17th-place short program.

But Chen rebounded not only in the Olympic free skate (highest score by nearly nine points) but also in Milan this week. Chen said he learned from PyeongChang to stop being “hell-bent” focused on gold.

His chances were no doubt boosted this week by the absences of Olympic gold and bronze medalists Hanyu and Javier Fernandez. Many medalists skip the worlds that are held one month after the Olympics due to exhaustion, off-ice opportunities or retirement.

This field lacked any prior Olympic or world champions for the first time since 1985.

Chen said before worlds he plans to continue competing next season, even though he may enroll in college. He will still work under Southern California-based coach Rafael Arutyunyan.

The third American, Max Aaron, finished 11th, landing one quad in his free skate, putting his hand down on a quad Salchow. Aaron, the 2013 U.S. champion, reportedly said it may have been his final competition.

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