GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AFP, REUTERS) - Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu clinched the first back-to-back men's Olympic figure skating title in more than six decades on Saturday to cement his status as the "Ice Prince" of the modern era.
The 23-year-old superstar made light of a three-month injury hiatus to emulate American Dick Button, who won gold in 1948 and 1952.
Hanyu led a Japanese one-two as Shoma Uno took silver, ahead of Spain's Javier Fernandez with bronze.
"I'm relieved to be able to skate here as a lot of people supported me," he told Japanese broadcaster NHK in Japanese.
"I worried a lot of people as I could not practise because of my injury. So, there was stronger support than before.
"I was so fortunate. I'm feeling gratitude. I was able to make a jump that I wanted to do with concentration. Anyway it was good."
Hanyu's Sochi 2014 success elevated him to cult status in Japan, and he did not disappoint his huge army of adoring fans.
After his not-quite-spotless free skate, which opened with a quickfire quad salchow and quad toeloop, he bowed to his fans as they in turn tossed his Winnie The Pooh stuffed toys, his mascot, onto the Gangneung Arena ice.
In the 'kiss and cry' corner he bowed again, this time to his coach Brian Orser as his score of 206.17 points came over the tannoy.
He then had to sit and suffer as first six-time European champion Fernandez, and then Uno, attempted valiantly but in vain to topple the rink king.
He took the Pyeongchang plaudits with a combined score of 317.85 to give him a cushion of almost 11 points over 19-year-old Uno (306.90), with Fernandez (305.24) just behind.
For Fernandez, it was the perfect way to end his last Olympics, claiming Spain's first figure skating medal.
"It was a good experience, I know I didn't do the perfect programme but I was satisfied with what I did and it got me an Olympic medal, that's all I've got to say.
"I've been dreaming about it and it's been a big goal for me. I knew it was going to be my last one (Olympics) so it's true that I was a little bit more nervous than yesterday."
Skating last, Uno fell on his opening quad loop but fought his way back to silver.
Hanyu was visibly moved by his latest triumph in a remarkable journey from the day in 2011 he had to fled a Sendai ice rink when a devastating earthquake hit Japan.
As well as claiming only Japan's third skating title, his gold medal was also the 1,000th awarded in Winter Games history.
Aside from Hanyu's heroics, the free skate was marked by the first-ever routine featuring six quads from American teenager Nathan Chen, who scored an Olympic record of 215.08, nearly 11 points more than his personal best.
That put him in the lead before Hanyu, Uno and Fernandez had skated. And it was enough for fifth place (297.35) for the 18-year-old, whose bid to upstage Hanyu had come unstuck when he flopped in the short programme on Friday.
Canada's Patrick Chan, who was sixth going into the free skate after falling on his triple Axel, stepped out of a triple toeloop and put his hand down on a triple Axel in the free skate.
Chan, who won gold with Canada in the team event, finished ninth overall in his last Olympics.
"It was obviously not the dream skate, but I think...from beginning to end, from day one of the Games to now, I'm very, very happy with how I held it together," he told Reuters.
"I just kept chugging along at goals and achieved the goals I had set myself."