BARRIE, ONTARIO – Olympic and world champion Yuzuru Hanyu topped the men’s free program to cruise to victory on his season debut at the Autumn Classic International in Canada on Thursday.
In first place after the short program, Hanyu nailed two quad jumps at the start of in his new free program to “Seimei” from the movie “Onmyoji,” and although he later fell on a quad, the 20-year-old scored 184.05 points to finish with a winning total of 277.19.
Canada’s Nam Nguyen was second with 241.10 points, while American Sean Rabbit finished third with 201.70.
“I was awarded more points than I expected,” said Hanyu. “I am disappointed that I haven’t been able to succeed with all three of the quad jumps I have incorporated into my program.
“But given that I am not match fit I can take something from the fact that I could do the quad salchow and quad toe loop.”
Hanyu is coming off an injury-plagued season in which he collided with Yan Han at the Cup of China and later underwent surgery to fix a bladder problem. Despite the calamities, Hanyu still finished a close second to training partner Javier Fernandez at the world championships.
Hanyu, who is based in Toronto where he trains under coach Brian Orser, did not participate in the Japan Open earlier this month in Saitama.
Hanyu is scheduled to skate at Skate Canada, the second event of the Grand Prix series starting on Oct. 30 in Lethbridge, Alberta.
In the women’s program, Haruka Imai landed a triple lutz and moved up one place to finish second behind Kazakhstan’s Elizabet Tursynbayeva with 174.89 points.
“I think I did well enough considering it is my first event of the season,” said Imai, who kicks of her Grand Prix season next week at Skate America in Milwaukee.
“I had confidence in combination jumps from the double axel. The lutz is something I have had to work on so I am glad I was able to land it.”
Tursynbayeva scored 179.72 for first place, while American Angela Wang was third with 172.36.