Yuzuru Hanyu Sets World

Photo: Susan D. Russell

It was a mixed bag of skating in all disciplines on the first day of 2018 Rostelecom Cup. Though some skaters enjoyed success and season high scores, many others, including heavy favorites, were disappointed with their performances and their results.

Without a doubt, the day belonged to Yuzuru Hanyu, who laid down a World record-scoring performance to close out the men’s short program.

Skating last in a field of 12, Hanyu opened his “Otonal” program with a solid quad Salchow, which earned 14 points and a predominant mix of plus 4 and 5 Grades of Execution (GOE). A quad toe-triple toe combination that followed racked up 18.19 points and another varying set of GOE scores. With the spins and step sequence graded Level 4, Hanyu closed out his program with a technical total of 62.44. The program component score of 48.09 included four perfect 10s: one each for performance and composition and two for interpretation of the music.

It was the kind of performance we have all come to expect from the two time and reigning Olympic champion. As he took his final pose, Pooh bears reigned down from all corners of the sold-out Megasport Arena as hundreds of Japanese fans in attendance rose to acknowledge their star.

Renowned Russian coach Tatiana Tarasova who is commentating for Russian television was also on her feet applauding his performance. Hanyu bowed to her as he left the ice. “She is someone I look up to. To see her stand, I was overcome with a sense of gratitude toward her,” he said.

Hanyu′s record score of 110.53 was just 2.19 points shy of the former World record he set at 2017 Autumn Classic International, and put a distance of 20.59 points between him and the runner-up.

“I′m relieved. I have to say that today I′m still in preparation mode in the sense that there were a number of issues I′ve been trying to iron out, and so I had some real anxieties coming in,” Hanyu said. “So, in that sense, being able to accomplish this is a relief. I am satisfied with my performance but I can’t say it was perfect, especially not the quad toe-triple toe. But I am happy I got a Level 4 for each element and the GOE for the triple Axel and the quad Salchow was really good.

“There was not enough time in between the competitions and I needed to control my training in the last week, which was a little hard,” he added in reference to competing in Helsinki two weeks earlier.

With an almost assured victory in Moscow on Saturday, it will mark the first time in Hanyu′s career he has won two Grand Prix Series titles in the same season. He will also punch a ticket to the Grand Prix Final next month — the seventh of his career.

Morisi Kvitelashvili of Georgia was the surprise of the competition finishing in second place with 89.94 points. The 23-year-old opened his program — set to “Bloodstream” by Tokio Myers — with a quad Salchow-triple toe loop combination, and midway through the routine he landed a quad toe loop. Kvitelashvili earned a season high score of 89.94 points. “I did everything as planned, but there is still room for improvement and I will continue to work to please the audience,” he said. “I really enjoy skating in this competition. There is a positive atmosphere that leads to good performances.”

Sweden’s Alexander Majorov also came through on a day when the favorites did not. His performance to “Bang Bang” by Asaf Avidan included a triple Axel and a triple Lutz-triple toe loop. He earned 82.33 points to land in third place in the segment. “I made a small mistake on the quad toe, but all elements were Level 4, which was good. I will try to fix the mistake in the long program,” Majorov said.

Japan’s Kazuki Tomono placed fourth with 82.26 — just 0.07 of a point behind Majorov. Paul Fentz of Germany scored 72.28 and sits in fifth followed by Alexei Krasnozhon of the U.S. in sixth (75.32 points).

It was a rough day for Canada’s Keegan Messing who fell on an under-rotated quad toe loop and struggled with the landing of the triple Axel. He finished seventh with 73.83 points. Likewise, Russia’s Mikhail Kolyada had a tough outing, popping a planned quad toe into a triple and singling an intended triple Axel. He finished eighth with 69.10 points.