Yuzuru Hanyu Shines, Nathan Chen Has Epic Collapse
by George Rossano
(16 February 2018) A crowded field of men with reasonable chances of medaling in the Men's event began their quests in the Men's Short Program. Skaters from China (Boyang Jin), Japan (Yuzuru Hanyu, Shoma Uno), Spain (Javier Fernandez) and the U.S. (Nathan Chen) came into the competition as medal contenders. At the end of the day, four competitors retained a reasonable chance to achieve their Olympic dream in the free skate, while U.S. hopeful Nathan Chen knocked himself out of the running, with a dismal performance
Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) skated first in the last of five warm-up groups. Due to the injury to his right foot, his missed training time, and the few weeks has has been able to return to training the Triple Axel and quads, his condition for this competition has been a big unknown.
His performance put doubts to rest, as he skated a near season's best performance of 111.68 points, with two quads (toe loop and Salchow) and the triple Axel. He missed one level on his closing change foot combination spin, in an otherwise near perfect performance. His components proved to be the highest of the event, averaging 9.70, including ten marks of 10.0.
"I just feel happy to skate," he said after his performance. "I just felt satisfied with my every element. I am really happy because I was really feeling the music too, and the ice." "I am very satisfied with my performance today but I still have tomorrow, so I will do my best tomorrow." he added.
On preparing while injured he said, "I was able to do a lot of practice and training without being on the ice. I got a lot of support and encouragement from many people. Not many athletes have so much support and I feel privileged."
Second place is currently held by Javier Fernandez (ESP) with 107.58 points. He also securely landed the same three jump elements as Hanyu, but with only the triple Axel in the second half, compared to Hanyu with the Axel and the jump combination in the second half. That strategy gained Hanyu an extra 1.46 points in base value. Fernandez achieved level 4 on all his leveled elements, and his components averaged 9.56.
"I am really pleased, " he said of his performance. "This season we had a bit of ups and downs. We did a lot of work in Toronto and this is my time and I have to show the people that I can skate really good ad perform amazing in front of everyone."
"it was a good performance. I enjoyed it. It was a well done program. 107 points is a lot of points heading into the free program. Yuzuru is ahead of me and we have one more day to go and I want to try to catch up to him."
Shoma Uno (JPN) placed third in the short with a nearly clean performance. He cleanly landed quad flip, a jump he has struggled with all season, and was two footing in the practices earlier this week. He also landed quad toe loop - triple toe loop and triple Axel in the second half. The only clear flaw in the program was a landing on the triple Axel that he had to fight for, and resulted in reduced GoEs for that element. His components averaged 9.20, with two scores of 10.0.
After the event he said, "When I go to any competition I try to be the same. The Olympic Games was not special in my consciousness but I think I had the highest excitement for these Games during this season. I tried to restrain that."
Boyang Jin (CHN) remains in the running for a medal, with 103.32 points, just 0.85 points behind Uno. He landed quad Lutz - triple toe loop and quad toe loop in the first half, and triple Axel in the second half. Successful completion of one of the first two jump elements in the second half would have given him enough additional base points to have moved him up to third place. His only negative GoE came from the Spanish judge.
"I did very well in the short program today and I improved my personal best by three points," he said. "Hopefully I will be able to skate even better than that in the free skating."
Dmitri Aliev (OAR) gave an unexpectedly strong performance to place fifth in the short. It was a solid, powerful skate to "Masquerade Waltz" that earned hi a season's best. He was the second of only two skater to land quad Lutz - triple toe loop in the segment. With 98.98 points he has an outside chance to make the podium if he again skates a season's best in the free skate, and skaters ahead of him falter.
The best placing U.S. skater was America's sweetheart Adam Rippon, who placed 7th with 87.95 points. The performance was flat for the first four element as he focused on landing the three jump elements (3F+3T, 3A and 3Lz), but then blossomed after element four, the triple Lutz. His components averaged 8.69.
On his clean skate, he said, "I can't explain. I just feel like I am coming into my own. I am confident in who I am and in what I am doing. I am just having a great time, a great time."
Vincent Zhou (USA) skated third in the first group, and had a difficult skate. He attempted quad Lutz - triple toe loop, but the toe loop was under-rotated. Still, for the successful Lutz, he gets credit for the first quad Lutz landed in Olympic competition. For quad flip he landed up on the toe and then stepped out and on triple Axel he also stepped out of the landing. He ended the day in 12th place.
"I felt it went pretty well and there were some things that were tight and a little bit stiff, because I was really nervous," he explained. "Overall I skated well. I feel I performed well and did the best that I could.
U.S. Champion Nathan Chen crashed and burned, with a 17th place finish, with 82.27 points. He spectacularly missed all three jump elements, and his components averaged only 8.28. The errors in the jumps spilled over into the performance which was for the most part lifeless.
"Honestly, it was bad," he acknowledged. "I made as many mistakes as I possibly could have. Everything seemed right but there were little mistakes here and there."
Copyright 2018 by George S. Rossano