Ice skating: Yuzuru Hanyu flexes his quads to beat old and new rivals to world gold

Yuzuru Hanyu
Yuzuru Hanyu

HELSINKI • Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu demonstrated his spellbinding skating skills, soaring jumps and superstar status as he toppled two-time champion Javier Fernandez to claim a second world gold on Saturday.

The 22-year-old matched his younger rivals quad for quad with a spectacular free skate at the World Figure Skating Championships in Helsinki that underlined his status as favourite heading to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics 10 months away.

"People say that other skaters are trying to catch up with me but you can see that I'm actually trying to catch up with other skaters," said Hanyu.

The skater from Sendai had trailed 25-year-old Fernandez by 10 points in fifth place after the short programme - the reverse of Boston last year when Hanyu threw away a 12-point lead to finish runner-up to his Spanish training partner for a second straight world championships.

But Hanyu pulled out a superb free skate to the music of Joe Hisaishi's "Hope and Legacy" about Finnish nature, nailing his best performance of the season and a record 223.20 points.

His effort broke his own world mark in the free programme, giving him a total of 321.58.

  • 223.20
    Points awarded to Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu in his free skate performance, a world record.

He added to his world title from 2014 to the delight of the hundreds of flag-waving Japanese fans in the Hartwall Arena, leading a one-two ahead of team-mate Shoma Uno (319.31), with China's Jin Boyang (303.58) taking bronze as Asia swept the men's podium for the first time.

Uno and Jin, both aged 19, also nailed four quads each, both breaking the 200-point barrier in the free skate for the first time.

"I demonstrated everything I was capable of, my whole package," said an exhausted Hanyu. "I wanted to do five quads but did not have enough energy."

Fernandez dropped to fourth (301.19) just ahead of former three-time winner Patrick Chan of Canada.

Four Continents champion Nathan Chen - the first skater to land five quads in a free skate at US nationals - attempted six but fell on two to finish sixth.

Hanyu's dream is to emulate American Dick Button, the last man to win back-to-back Olympic titles in 1952. But he conceded he needed to be more consistent after a mixed season, winning the Grand Prix final and the NHK Trophy but finishing behind Chan in Skate Canada and Chen in the Four Continents.

"Looking towards the Olympic season I think it's important to skate clean both in the short and the free, these two programmes together," he said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 03, 2017, with the headline 'Hanyu flexes his quads to beat old and new rivals to world gold'. Print Edition | Subscribe