Figure Skating

Yuzuru Hanyu captures Four Continents title for first time

Kyodo, Staff Report

Yuzuru Hanyu took gold at the Four Continents on Sunday, following his record-breaking men’s short program performance by topping the field in the free skate.

Despite touching the ice on his opening quadruple Lutz and falling on a quad toe loop, Japan’s two-time Olympic champion scored enough with his remaining elements for a convincing win at Seoul’s Mokdong Ice Rink.

The 25-year-old Hanyu earned 187.60 points for the segment and 299.42 overall to capture his first Four Continents title.

Yuma Kagiyama completed an impressive senior international debut with the third-best free skate score of 179.00 to finish third overall at 270.61.

The 16-year-old, who won the 2020 Winter Youth Olympics men’s title in January, finished 4.21 points behind silver medalist Jason Brown of the United States.

With his victory, two-time world champion and four-time Grand Prix Final winner Hanyu claimed the highest-profile international title to have eluded him. He had runner-up three times in the past.

“It was good to win it finally. I can’t say I’m happy about my performance, but I really wanted to win this competition,” said Hanyu, who hopes his new routine will help him reclaim his world championship crown from American rival Nathan Chen.

“I haven’t perfected this routine yet. I have to put in more time on it.”

Hanyu’s 111.82 on Friday set a men’s short program world record to open up a 15.99-point lead over second-place Jin Boyang of China.

Skating to “Seimei” by Shigeru Umebayashi, Hanyu opened his free routine with a huge quad Lutz but put his hand down on the landing. He had no trouble on his next jump, a quad salchow, before executing a triple axel and a triple flip.

He stumbled slightly on a quad combination jump before falling on the quad toe loop but recovered to nail his final triple axel/triple toe loop combination.

“There was a little bit of a problem with the ice before I skated. Because of that problem, I was unusually nervous but I think I tried my best,” Hanyu said.

“I was disappointed (with my mistakes) but I will be able to prepare for the World Championship by analyzing today’s mistakes and I would like to improve my skating to not repeat these mistakes in other competitions.”

Kagiyama said he had taken confidence from his strong debut on the senior international circuit.

“I’m surprised, as I didn’t expect I’d be able to win a medal,” Kagiyama said.

“I didn’t have enough power in my last triple axel, but I was happy to get this kind of score on a big stage. It has given me confidence.”

Jing placed fourth overall (267.67). South Korea’s Cha Jun-hwan was fifth (265.43), followed by Canada’s Nam Nguyen (251.60).

Kazuki Tomono finished seventh in the free skating and seventh overall with 251.05 points.