Golden Skate

Hanyu leads the Men in in Pyeonchang

Yuzuru Hanyu

Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan performs his Short Program at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

2018 Winter Olympics: Figure Skating News

Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan leads the Men in Figure Skating after a day of brilliant performances in the Short Program at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Javier Fernandez of Spain is in second, followed by Japan’s Shoma Uno.

Hanyu was spot-on in his routine to music by Chopin, nailing a quad Salchow, triple Axel, and quad toe-triple toe. The defending champion earned no less than +2 grades of execution (GOE) on all elements, placing first with 111.68 points.

“I just felt happy to skate,” said the two-time World champion of his performance. “I just felt satisfied with my every element. I am really happy because I was really feeling the music too, and the ice. I am very satisfied with my performance today, but I still have tomorrow, so I will do my best tomorrow.”

The 23-year-old is coming off an injury and says he is doing his best.

“I wanted to say to everyone that I am back here,” said Hanyu. “Very happy that there are a lot in the audience, but I couldn’t perform for the last three months, so I am very happy to be back.”

The Japanese champion says he is not focusing on defending his Olympic title, but rather, himself.

“It’s not like I really want to be an Olympic champion, but I just want to do my best, and do what is best for me,” he said. “Not as an Olympic champion but for me.

In his entertaining routine to “Modern Times,” Fernandez nailed his quad toe-triple toe, quad Salchow, and triple Axel. The only difference in his routine compared to Hanyu’s was the GOEs. He finished second with 107.58 points.

“I am really pleased,” said the 26-year-old. “This season we had a bit of ups and downs. We did a lot of work in Toronto and this is my time and I have to show the people that I can skate really good and perform amazing in front of everybody. It was a good performance. I enjoyed it. It was a well-done program. 107 points is a lot of points heading into the free program. Yuzuru (Hanyu) is ahead of me and we have one more day to go and I want to try to catch up to him.”

The two-time World champion felt both confident and calm going into the short program, and it showed.

“It’s the end of the season for me and I wanted to skate really well,” he said. “I think that helped me perform really good.”

The Spaniard, who was fourth at the 2014 Sochi Games, feels that he is a lot different.

“I have four more years of experience in competitions,” he acknowledged. “I won two world championships and six European titles, so I am surely a different person and such a different athlete and so much more mature.”

Fernandez says Hanyu is an “amazing” skater that is very talented.

“I know if he skates good, it’s very hard to beat him,” he said. “So I’m glad, you know, at the end of the day the competition is good for everybody. The more exciting it is for everybody, the more fun everybody is going to have.”

“I think this is going to be my last Olympics,” Fernandez said of his third Olympics. “I am 26 years old and in skating we don’t last so long. The Olympics are really special, and I still want to do a good job and remain calm and it doesn’t matter what happens. I always want to be happy.”

Uno also gave a solid performance, landing a quad flip, quad toe-triple toe, and triple Axel in his routine to “Winter.” He placed third with 104.17 points.

“When I go to any competition I try to be the same,” said the Four Continents silver medalist. “The Olympic Games was not special in my consciousness, but I think I had the highest excitement for these Games during this season. I tried to restrain that.”

Boyang Jin of China landed a quad Lutz-triple toe, quad toe, and triple Axel in his routing to music from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, earning a personal best of 103.32.

“I did very well in the short program today and I improved my personal best by three points,” noted the 20-year-old. “Hopefully I will be able to skate even better than that in the free skating. I made no mistake; the whole program was clean.”

“To me it is important to give my best and to support the Chinese team,” said the two-time World bronze medalist of competing at the Olympics.

Dmitri Aliev (OAR) also scored a personal best (98.98) for fifth place. He landed a quad Lutz-triple toe, quad toe, and triple Axel.

“It was a good feeling, a good mood which is most important,” said the 2018 European silver medalist of his performance. “I had a good focus today and all this did not let me down. To be honest, I was not extra nervous. The support from the crowd made me really happy and I felt elated, but that can throw me off a little, and therefore, I calmed myself down. But nevertheless, I felt the support during my program.”

“I worked hard and prepared for this competition,” added the 18-year-old. “Tomorrow is another day and I need to keep it together. I realize when I do my job I will get good scores.”

Canada’s Patrick Chan was off to a strong start after landing a quad toe and triple Lutz-triple toe in his routine to “Dust in the Wind,” however, he under-rotated and fell on a triple Axel.

“I am disappointed in myself mostly,” said the three-time World champion. I just don’t seem to get a break from the triple Axel and it’s something that I really had to work on really hard. I think I am the hardest working person when it comes to triple Axel. It wasn’t a natural jump for me. There is still tomorrow. I’ll just put all my effort into tomorrow (free skate).

“I have had a strike of bad luck with the Axel. I did not grow up with the basic technique for the Axel, so I had to go back to the basics of the Axel and it’s harder when you are older.”

The ten-time Canadian champ finished sixth with 90.01 points.

Chan said he felt good and that he felt that he had ownership of the ice, which wasn’t the case in the Team Event short program.

“I think it was great adding the triple toe on the triple Lutz,” said the 27-year-old. “It was good thinking on my feet, a lot of good positive things. I think the training really showed in the program—adding the combo on the jump that I wasn’t normally planning on. But there still was the one mistake on the triple Axel and at the Olympic Games, you can’t be making those kinds of mistakes at this level, but it is what it is. That’s life.”

USA’s Adam Rippon sold his routine to “Let Me Think About It,” landing a solid triple flip-triple toe, triple Axel, and triple Lutz. The skater was clearly happy as he gave a fist pump at the end. He placed seventh with 87.95 points.

“I just feel like I am coming into my own,” said the 28-year-old. “I am confident in who I am and in what I am doing. I am just having a great time, a great time. I am just so excited that I have been able to skate so well these Olympic Games. To be here is like a dream come true and to come out here and perform and put on some of my best performances makes it even sweeter and even better.”

Thus far, the Games are living up to his expectations after the skater imagined three perfect programs.

“So let’s just keep this going, you know? Let’s do it, let’s do it tomorrow. I skate tomorrow, right?”

Rippon is happy and feels as though his ups-and-downs and hard work are paying off.

“I feel like I have already had one Olympic moment, I feel like I am two for two right now,” he said. “Tomorrow I will make it three for three. I didn’t even know what time I was supposed to be at the arena today, but I am here and I made it on time, right?”

The 2016 U.S. champion is thriving in the Olympic spotlight, confident in what he is doing and putting out. He realizes he may not be the best in the competition, but is definitely the “most fun.”

“Yeah! It’s my world,” he said of the stage in Pyeongchang. “Everybody is living in it. For my mum, this is like huge. She has been there from the very beginning. I have a brother here and a sister who has never seen me compete before, so they have been waiting for a big moment and I think for them to be here and come to the Olympic Games is awesome.”

Mikhail Kolyada (OAR) placed eighth (86.69) after falling on a quad Lutz.

Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic is currently ninth (27 85.15) after a solid skate which featured a quad Salchow-double toe, triple Axel, and triple flip.

Keegan Messing of Canada nailed his opening quad toe-triple toe, but fell on a triple Axel.

“This was probably the first triple Axel I fell on in the program this week, so I can’t wait for the free skate to show that off. I felt strong out there and I just performed as hard as I could perform.”

The 26-year-old earned 85.11 points for his routine to “Singin’ in the Rain.”

“This was an amazing venue,” said the skater of his experience. “Ten seconds before I go out there I was like, ‘I’m skating in the Olympics and I almost wanted to cry.’ I had to bring myself back and just focus again and said, ‘I’m just at another competition.'”

“I feel that ‘special’ is almost too small of a word (to describe being at the Games),” said the Canadian silver medalist. “I have been working for this for 23 years and this is my third Olympic trials to get here. So just making it was a dream come true. Now skating here, it’s mind-blowing and I am excited. I am honored.”

Despite several mistakes, USA’s Vincent Zhou earned a new personal best of 84.53 for a 12th-place finish.

“I felt that it went pretty well,” said Zhou. “There were some things that were tight and a little bit stiff, because I was really nervous. Overall, I skated well. I feel l performed well and did the best that I could.

“I am an ambitious person,” the 2017 World Junior champion said of the quad Lutz. “I’ve been training it very well. I have been adjusting and adapting to my new environments and experiences, and I have been working on all aspects of my skating.

Zhou is grateful for the sacrifices his family has made for him on his journey.

“My mom left her job working for Oracle in the Silicon Valley in California when I was eight years old so that we could go to different places in the country to train,” shared the 17-year-old. “My father has been living by himself at home. We’re a single-income family.

“My sister goes to MIT and she is studying brain and cognitive science there,” he continued. “I have such an incredible family, but it hasn’t been easy at all because college is expensive and my sister also does springboard and platform diving. It hasn’t been an easy road at all. So I am incredibly honored to be here.”

“Having all of my family, and all of my friends, and thousands of supporters here to watch me skate is so important to me,” the skater from summed up. “I know that I’m appreciated and it’s such a warm feeling.”

Alexei Bychenko of Israel landed a triple Axel and quad toe, but two-footed the landing of his triple Lutz-triple toe. He sits in 13th (84.13).

USA’s Nathan Chen fell on his opening quad Lutz combo, stepped out of quad toe, and fell on a triple Axel. He is currently in 17th place (82.27).

“It was rough again,” said Chen. “I still need some time to think about it. It happens and I guess I try to move on from here. Honestly, it was bad. I made as many mistakes as I possibly could have. Everything seemed right, but there were little mistakes here and there.”

The 2018 U.S. champion still isn’t sure what happened.

“I was thinking the right things,” said the 18-year-old. “It just wasn’t clicking together. Honestly, I’ll just try to take it in and move on from here. I’ll just talk to my team. I am not sure exactly what to do. I think I will just recover and try to do my best for the free. I thought I did everything right going into this, things just didn’t click together.”

Denis Ten of Kazakhstan, who suffered a severe ankle injury in August, was unable to qualify for the free skate after a subpar short program (70.12)

“Obviously I am disappointed to not have shown my best performance today and I am even more disappointed, because I really gave it everything I had to prepare for this competition,” said the 24-year-old. “Each day I woke up and I was in pain, but I woke up with the hope that it is a new day, with new achievements and a new fight. Today these hopes did not pan out.”

“In spite of the unfortunate events today, I will not give up and (I will) continue to work,” he said. “This is life, this is the sport and it all makes our life experience. Everybody is suffering.”

“To be in Korea is indeed a big honor for me,” added the skater who is of Korean descent. “I have waited for this competition for a long time.”