Newly crowned national Japanese champion Yuzuru Hanyu upstaged world silver medalist Daisuke Takahashi to take the lead after the men’s short program at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships on Friday.
Hanyu collected 87.65 points to lead after the first day followed by China’s Yan Han in second with 85.08, and American Richard Dornbush in third at 83.01.
The 26-year-old Takahashi, who has announced he will retire after the Sochi Winter Olympics, was fourth on 82.62 after a shoddy performance to Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.”
Hanyu was nearly flawless in a spellbinding performance to “Parisian Walkways” by Gary Moore — his only miscue coming when he popped out of a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination.
“I don’t know the reason I popped the lutz,” Hanyu said. “But I felt I did really well otherwise and put myself in a great position for tomorrow’s free skate.”
Takahashi, who has changed his music from the up-tempo “Rock-n-Roll” to “Moonlight Sonata” to add gravitas and switched the sequence of his jumps for the second half of the season, lost his balance on his opening quad toeloop and took a spill on a triple axel.
National bronze medalist Takahito Mura, who turns 22 on Monday, scored a season’s best 78.03 but had to settle for eighth after deductions on his opening quad toeloop-triple toeloop combination and his triple Lutz.
U.S. champion Max Aaron slumped to 10th following an error-strewn short program.
Osaka native Takahashi won the Grand Prix Final with the top score in this season’s series, 269.40, which left Hanyu second despite a sterling 264.29.
But boy wonder Hanyu beat Takahashi by almost 10 points at the nationals in December, signaling a changing of the guard.
In the ice dance short program, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir took the lead with a score of 75.12. Cathy and Chris Reed of Japan were back in sixth.
Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada grabbed the top spot in the pairs with 70.44.
The women’s skate, featuring two-time world champion Mao Asada, national silver medalist Kanako Murakami and 2012 world bronze medalist Akiko Suzuki, gets under way on Saturday.