NAGANO • Japan's Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu became the first figure skater to break the 300-point mark yesterday, as he soared to victory at the NHK Trophy in breathtaking style.
He obliterated the mystical barrier in Nagano, posting a combined world-record total of 322.40 points after a jaw-dropping free programme which also smashed Canadian Patrick Chan's previous high, triggering wild cheers from thousands of squealing female fans.
Hanyu's free score of 216.07 was also the first ever to clear the 200-point mark and his astonishing aggregate score was on a entirely different level to Chan's previous best of 295.27 set in Paris two years ago. "I don't believe it," the 20-year-old told reporters after being greeted with a bear-hug from Canadian coach Brian Orser and calling out "arigato" (thank you) to his adoring public.
"That score really was a surprise. I was so nervous before I skated but I wanted to go for it. I wanted to show that I'm the Olympic champion, here on a rink where the Olympics were held (in 1998).
"Despite the score, I still think there is room to improve."
It is difficult to see how after an exquisite performance which could have redefined the sport.
Hanyu, who covered his face with his hands in disbelief as his score was announced, majestically nailed all of his jumps, including four quads, in a high-risk programme which left his rivals way back.
He punched the air in joy at the end of his routine as the crowd erupted, before skating over to a television camera holding his index finger aloft to underline his status as figure skating's crown prince.
Chinese teenager Jin Boyang posted 170.79 to finish a distant runner-up with a total of 266.43, joining Hanyu in next month's Grand Prix Final in Barcelona. Japan's Takahito Mura took third with a total of 242.21.