Imperious Hanyu breaks more records en route to Grand Prix Final gold


Olympic figure skating champion Yuzuru Hanyu just keeps breaking records and adding titles.

The 21-year-old Japanese phenomenon improved on two more of his own records to win his third consecutive Grand Prix Final title in brilliant fashion on Saturday.

Another of Hanyu’s masterful free skates received a record 219.48 points, and a record total of 330.43 that shattered milestones he set last month at the NHK Trophy.

On Thursday, Hanyu bettered his own record for a short program he set in Nagano in November by scoring 110.95.

“I always want to perform my best and be No. 1,” Hanyu said. “I was putting pressure on myself from the world record at NHK, but during the free program I was released from the pressure. I thought I could do what I could, and I ended up performing quite well.”

That “quite well” could only be chalked up to modesty as he once again raised the bar both past and future men’s skaters will be judged by.

To put his latest feat into context, no skater had ever broken the 300-total points barrier before Hanyu earned 322.40 at the NHK Trophy.

Spain’s Javier Fernandez, who shares coach Brian Orser with Hanyu in Canada and edged his training partner to dethrone him as world champion in March, was runnerup for a second straight year at the GP Final despite his personal best free skate of 201.43 points for a personal-best total score of 292.95.

Hanyu took the ice after Fernandez’s strong showing revved up the local supporters. But his routine to “Seimei” by Shigeru Umebayashi, that he said was inspired by traditional Japanese Noh theater, included three quadruple jumps and easily won over the entire crowd.

Hanyu concluded his stellar showing with a fist pump a second before the audience burst into applause and began littering the ice with bouquets and stuffed animals.

Fernandez bowed to Hanyu while waiting for the score that both knew would be more than enough for Hanyu to repeat as winner.

“I am feeling really good today, because everyone was supporting me,” Hanyu said. “I owe my performance to the audience.”

Japan’s Shoma Uno was third with 276.79.

Earlier, 16-year-old Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia was crowned the senior women’s champion one year after winning the junior Grand Prix Final.

Skating on the same rink in Barcelona, this year’s junior world champion coasted through her routine to Rene Aubry’s “Allegro.” She added to her leading short program with 147.96 points for a total score of 222.54.

“I didn’t really expect this result here, but I worked really hard for it,” Medvedeva said through a translator. “I am very pleased with my first senior season.”

Satoko Miyahara of Japan was second with 201.13, followed by another Russian 16-year-old, Elena Radionova, with 201.13.

Mao Asada had a night to forget, as she stumbled to last in the six-skater women’s field.

The three-time world champion was lying third, only 5.45 points behind Medvedeva after the short program.

Mao was struggling from her opening triple axel jump in her “Madame Butterfly” free skate, popping the following planned triple-triple combination.

She landed four triples, but the error-strewn presentation saw her achieve a below-par 125.19 in her free skate for a total of 194.32.

“I’m very disappointed I couldn’t perform the way I wanted to,” said the 2010 Olympic silver medalist, who was bidding for a record fifth women’s crown a decade after she won her first GP Final gold.

“I had a lot of mistakes, I have to change my mindset, refocus and do better at the next competition.”

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje also successfully defended their ice dance title.

The Canadian couple earned a season-best 109.91 points from a free dance to “On the Nature of Daylight” by Max Richter and “Run” by Ludovico Einaudi.

“We were so shocked to win the title last year,” Weaver said. “And we knew this year it was going to be a battle with so many teams so close. It feels amazing.”

Their winning total of 182.66 points left Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the United States, on 177.85, runnersup for the second straight year. Their silver meant the U.S. has medaled at nine straight Grand Prix Finals dating to 2007 in ice dance.

Bates said they struggled with their free skate because they “changed about 50 percent” of the routine in the last month.

Italians Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte were third with 176.37 points.

Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov of Russia won the pair’s title on Friday.

  • CLJF

    Congratulations to Yuzu, truly masterful skating. However, personally, I found the performances of bronze medallist Shoma Uno, more captivating artistically. He is developing steadily into a wonderful performer, evoking the artistic tradition of his skating role model, Daisuke Takahashi.