KELOWNA, BRITISH COLUMBIA – Two-time Olympic gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu dominated the men’s short program on Friday at Skate Canada, while compatriot Rika Kihira seized the lead in the women’s competition.
Hanyu, who has yet to add a Skate Canada title to his impressive resume after three runner-up finishes, opened with a quadruple salchow and produced an impressive triple axel on the way to a score of 109.60 points for a commanding lead over American Camden Pulkinen (89.05) and Canadian Nam Nguyen (84.08) going into Saturday’s free skate.
Hanyu said he felt he was at “70 or 60” percent as he launched his Grand Prix campaign in the second event of the season.
“I was feeling a little disappointed (at) some points,” he admitted, but said it was “a really good step for the season.”
Hanyu said he felt comfortable skating in the country in which he trains.
“It was not so great, but I felt I did my best today,” Hanyu stated. “I felt calm today, but I am not sure if my calmness led to me being more focused.”
Earlier Friday, 17-year-old Kihira delivered her trademark triple axel to lead the women’s short program ahead of South Korea’s You Young and Russia’s Alexandra Trusova.
Kihira, who won all three of her Grand Prix events last year but settled for fourth at the world championships in Saitama in March, finished with a total of 81.35 points to take a 3.13-point lead over You.
“The quality of my triple axel and my triple loop was good, like in practice,” said Kihira, who also had a triple flip/triple toe combination and a triple loop.
“But in some parts of the program I was nervous and I didn’t do my spins so well. Tomorrow in practice I want to focus on my jumps and spins.”
You, a three-time South Korean national champion and still just 15, also completed a triple axel as she built a personal-best total of 78.22 points, with Trusova, another 15-year-old third on 74.40.
“I have been working on the triple axel for three years,” You said. “Now I feel good and have more confidence.”
Bradie Tennell, who took silver at Skate America behind Anna Shcherbakova last weekend was in fourth ahead of 2018 Olympic silver medalist and two-time world champion Evgenia Medvedeva, who fell on her closing triple lutz after botching the landing of a double axel.
Ice dance opened with two-time world medalists Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue of the United States topping the rhythm dance with 83.21 — 1.76 less than their rhythm dance score last week at Skate America.
They relegated Canadian home hopes Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier to second by just 0.63 going into Saturday’s free dance.
Russians Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii were in front after the pairs short program with a score of 76.45. They led Canadians Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro (75.50).