MOSCOW – Defending Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu made two mistakes in his jumps Friday to finish second behind rival Nathan Chen in the men’s short program at the Cup of Russia, the first event of the Grand Prix series.
Hanyu, last up in the 12-man field, under-rotated his first jump — the quadruple loop — and slightly lost balance after a poor landing, before putting both hands on the ice following his quad toe loop/triple toe loop combination later in the routine to earn 94.85 points at Megasport Sport Palace.
Up-and-coming Chen, who beat Hanyu at last season’s Four Continents Championships, received 100.54 for a cleanly executed high-difficulty program that featured a quad lutz/triple toe loop combo and a quad flip. Russia’s Dmitri Aliev sits in third at 88.77.
“There were many parts that were obviously bad but I think I was able to overcome the challenge of executing all my jumps without missing the right timing,” Hanyu said.
“I think I was able to put my routine together earlier than usual, and it’s a great improvement that I didn’t miss performing any elements in the short program,” said the 22-year-old who has failed to win at his first Grand Prix meet the past seven seasons.
Hanyu has upgraded the difficulty of his programs from last month’s Autumn Classic International, where he renewed his own record score in the short but struggled with a shaky free skate to finish runner-up.
In Montreal, he had opened his short routine with the quad salchow, instead of the more difficult quad loop, due to pain in his right knee.
The two-time world champion, seeking to win his fifth straight Grand Prix Final later this year and defend his Olympic title next year, plans to include a quad lutz in his routine for the first time in Saturday’s free program.
But he put things in perspective, noting, “It’s just one jump, one element within the whole program,” and added that he hopes to do everything he can from start to finish so that he can catch Chen.
The 18-year-old American, the silver medalist at last winter’s GP Final, is the only skater who has landed five types of quad jumps in competition and plans to include all of them in Saturday’s free skate.
In the women’s competition, teenagers Wakaba Higuchi and Kaori Sakamoto stood in third and fourth places after the short program with 69.60 and 68.88 points, respectively.
Russia’s two-time reigning world champion Evgenia Medvedeva leads at 80.75, followed by 2014 Sochi Olympic bronze medalist Carolina Kostner of Italy with 74.62.
In pairs, Japan’s Sumire Suto and Canadian partner Francis Boudreau-Audet are in last among eight duos with 48.93 in the short program. Russians Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov had the top score of 76.88.