Figure Skating

Hanyu skates to win in season debut

Kyodo

Two-time men’s Olympic figure skating champion Yuzuru Hanyu opened his season with a comfortable victory at the Autumn Classic International on Saturday.

In first place after Friday’s short program, the superstar scored 180.67 points in the free skate for a winning total of 279.05. Frenchman Kevin Aymoz was second with 262.47 and Canada’s Keegan Messing was third with 256.02.

Hanyu had a shaky landing on his opening quad toe loop and also stepped out of a quad salchow. The 24-year-old under-rotated his second quad toe loop and admitted he was wasn’t exactly pleased with his performance.

“I was in good shape until I got here and that’s what disappoints me,” said Hanyu. “I would really like to have skated without making any mistakes.”

Speaking to reporters after the competition, Hanyu opened up for the first time about the possibility of participating at the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

“I can’t say for certain, but I want to be the strongest version of myself at all times, and I hope it is something that comes (as a possibility) in the future,” he said. “I will compete if I keep skating until (the 2022 season).”

But he added that he would rather not take part if he doesn’t feel at his best and capable of victory, adding that his current goal is simply to become the first skater to land a quadruple axel.

“I noticed that I’ve been skating just to nail the quad axel. That’s what I live for,” he said.

Previously, Hanyu, who became the first man in 66 years to repeat as Olympic champion at the Pyeongchang Games last year, had just said he was yet to “give any thought” to next Winter Games.

Hanyu closed out last season with a silver medal behind American Nathan Chen at the world championships, but he has decided to stick with the same short and long programs this term.

Hanyu’s victory at the Autumn Classic International completed a winning double for Japan at the ISU Challenger Series event.

On Friday, Rika Kihira captured the women’s title with 224.16 points, finishing ahead of Russia’s Olympic silver medalist Evgenia Medvedeva, 217.43, and South Korea’s Lim Eun-soo, 184.38.

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