Hanyu wins 3rd gold, Asada falters

Gold medal winner of the men's free program Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan holds his medal during the medal ceremony at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating final in Barcelona, Spain.
Gold medal winner of the men's free program Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan holds his medal during the medal ceremony at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating final in Barcelona, Spain. PHOTO: REUTERS

BARCELONA • Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu basked in the glory of another record-breaking night at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final as compatriot Mao Asada suffered a meltdown on the Barcelona ice.

Hanyu, 21, captured an unprecedented third straight men's gold with Spain's world champion Javier Fernandez taking the silver, as he had last year, and Japanese newcomer Shoma Uno settling for the bronze.

The Olympic champion was in a class of his own as he followed his world record short programme of 110.95 points on Thursday with a new free skate record of 219.48 for an overall 330.43.

The performance came two weeks after his world record 322.40 at the NHK Trophy in Nagano.

But for Asada, 25, it was a Saturday night to forget in the International Convention Centre, as she stumbled to last place in the six-skater women's field. The three-time world champion was lying third, only 5.45 points behind Russia's Evegenia Medvedeva, after the short programme.

But it was a trio of teens who took the medals with Medvedeva winning her first major title at 16, ahead of Japan's Satoko Miyahara, 17, and Russian Elena Radionova, 16.

Asada was struggling from her opening triple-axel jump in her Madame Butterfly free skate, popping the following planned triple-triple combination.

She landed four triples, but the error-strewn presentation saw her achieve a below-par 125.19 in her free skate for a total of 194.32.

"I'm very disappointed I couldn't perform the way I wanted to," said the 2010 Olympic silver medallist, who was bidding for a record fifth women's crown a decade after she won her first GP Final gold.

"I had a lot of mistakes, I have to change my mindset, refocus and do better at the next competition," she added.

The pressure is now on Asada, who is on the comeback trail after a season off. The Japanese national championships begin on Dec 24, with only the top two qualifying for the world championships.

Compatriot Hanyu reeled off a quadruple Salchow, quadruple toeloop, quadruple-triple toeloop and six triple jumps including two axels in his exquisite programme to Japanese movie soundtrack Seimei.

On the road to reclaiming the world title he lost last year to training partner Fernandez, Hanyu will bid for a fourth straight national title in Hokkaido.

"I don't feel absolutely majestic yet. I realise there are only two spots for the worlds," he said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2015, with the headline 'Hanyu wins 3rd gold, Asada falters'. Print Edition | Subscribe