KELOWNA, BRITISH COLUMBIA – Two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, the only man to surpass the 200-point barrier in the free skate Saturday, claimed his first Skate Canada title after runner-up finishes in 2013, 2015 and 2016.
Grabbing a 20-point lead after the short program on Friday, Hanyu scored 212.99 in the free skate to amass a personal best total of 322.59 for his 11th career Grand Prix title.
The 24-year-old landed four quads, including a quad loop, quad salchow and quad toe loop, in a crowd-pleasing routine packed with footwork sequence and spins, to which the arena responded with flying Winnie the Pooh bears.
“I had a strong desire to win Skate Canada,” Hanyu said. “It was a winning performance (I felt) in my heart for the first time in a while. I’m happy that I (didn’t make many mistakes) throughout the short program and free skate.”
Canada’s Nam Nguyen, third after the short program, rose up to second following the free skate to take silver with 262.77. Keiji Tanaka snatched bronze with 250.02 after starting the day in fifth place.
“I’m happy, but at the same time, I know if I had done better in the short program, I would’ve been more relaxed in the free skate. I do feel that I’m improving, and that’s what keeps me going,” Tanaka said.
Earlier in the day, women’s short program leader Rika Kihira was overtaken by Alexandra Trusova in the free skate and settled for silver behind the Russian 15-year-old, who won her senior Grand Prix debut.
After mislanding her opening triple axel, Kihira made no major mistakes at Prospera Place but admitted later that even she was awed by Trusova, who tallied the world’s highest scores this season for the free skate (166.62) and total (241.02).
Kihira earned 148.98 points to finish second in the long program and second overall with 230.33.
“I have to make sure I execute better quality jumps,” the 17-year-old said.
“I was in awe (of Trusova’s performance). Even with a perfect program I don’t know if I’d be able to beat her score. A 230-plus score and I’m still second. It’s a new era (for figure skating),” she said.
South Korean You Young took bronze, and Marin Honda, who was involved in a minor car crash on Tuesday, finished sixth.
Skating to “Game of Thrones,” Trusova completed a quadruple lutz, quadruple-triple toeloop, quadruple toeloop-Euler-triple salchow as well as a triple lutz-triple loop and a triple flip. The only glitch came when she fell on her opening quadruple salchow.
“Overall I am pleased with my performance, I am only upset that I missed the salchow,” Trusova told reporters. “It happens in practice quite often that I miss the first jump, but I just pull myself together and carry on.”
Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier gave Canadians a reason to cheer when they overcame Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue of the United States to win the ice dance .
Gilles and Poirier, second after Friday’s rhythm dance, surged to the top in Saturday’s free dance to claim their first ISU Grand Prix gold medal with 209.01 points.
Hubbell and Donohue took second (206.31) with Britain’s Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson third (195.35).
In pairs, Russians took gold and bronze.
Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii won with 216.71 points with compatriots Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov earning third (202.29)
The silver went to Canadians Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro (208.49).
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