Figure Skating

Yuzuru Hanyu in first place after short program at Autumn Classic International

Kyodo

Two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu seized the lead with a fluid skate in the short program on Friday at the Autumn Classic International.

Taking part in his first competition since becoming the first men’s back-to-back Olympic champion in 66 years in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in February, Hanyu scored 97.74 points, putting him well ahead of second-place Cha Jun-hwan.

Cha, from South Korea, scored 90.56 and Jason Brown of the United States was third with 88.90.

Skating to “Otonal” by Raul di Blasio, Hanyu opened with a quadruple salchow and just managed to pull out a quad toe loop-triple toe loop combination late in his routine.

He produced some graceful footwork but said afterward that he was not totally happy with the way he skated.

“I am disappointed with the way I performed,” said Hanyu, referring to errors on his spins.

“It’s been a while since I have competed and the focus (was lacking) on my jumps, things like that. I skated, in a sense, with a taste of fear,” said the 23-year-old.

Later in the day in the women’s free skate, Wakaba Higuchi (167.01) came in fifth. American Bradie Tennell, second after the short program, beat two-time world champion and Olympic silver medalist Evgenia Medvedeva to win.

Tennell earned 137.15 for her free skate and 206.41 total, and Russia’s Medvedeva, who fell on a triple loop attempt, was second with 133.91 for the program and 204.89 overall.

France’s Mae Berenice Meite (178.89) took third.