Figure Skating

Olympic champ Hanyu leads after men's short at figure skating worlds

Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu won the short program at the world figure skating championships on Thursday in Stockholm, Sweden.

Canada's Messing sits 5th; Russian rookies take pairs gold, Canadian duo finishes 6th

Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu, looked every bit the champion of the sport, after distancing himself from rival Nathan Chen of the U.S., with a near-perfect performance in the short program at the World Figure Skating Championships on Thursday in Sweden. (Jessica Gow/Reuters)

The faceoff between Yuzuru Hanyu and Nathan Chen was no contest.

Japan's Hanyu, looking every bit the champion of the sport, won the short program Thursday at the world figure skating championships in Stockholm, distancing himself from Chen when the American fell on his opening quadruple lutz while Hanyu was sheer perfection.

  • That Figure Skating Show will be live on CBC Sports' YouTube channel after every #stockholm2021 short program. Join hosts Dylan Moscovitch and Asher Hill, plus special guests as they react, and provide insight to all the action from worlds

Hanyu has been the sport's biggest attraction for two Olympic cycles, each of which ended with him wearing a gold medal.

He showed why in a short program packed with difficulty, style, artistry and a ton of energy. His body rotation on his jumps — a quad salchow, triple axel and quad toe loop-triple toe loop combination — was so fast it was almost imperceptible. His musical selection, "Let Me Entertain You," by Robbie Williams, matched Hanyu's frenetic performance that, had there been spectators on hand, would have left them as breathless as the skater.

WATCH | 2-time Olympic champ Hanyu leads after men's short:

Japan's Hanyu leads world championships after men's short program

8 months ago
6:21
2-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan leads after the men's short program scoring 106.98 at the world championships in Stockholm, Sweden Thursday. 6:21

No fans were on hand at the Ericsson Globe due to the coronavirus pandemic. Had they been, they certainly would have littered the ice with the Winnie the Pooh dolls that have become a Hanyu trademark. Renowned coach Brian Orser, a Pooh bear in hand holding a yuzu fruit (a Japanese citrus) by the sideboards, leaped high with every brilliant element by his skater.

There were no such celebrations from the Chen camp. The two-time defending world titlist hasn't lost a competition since the 2018 Olympics. But he's now more than eight points behind Hanyu's 106.98 points. And Hanyu's countryman, 17-year-old sensation Yuma Kagiyama, is between the two favourites in second place.

Chen, winner of the last five U.S. titles, struggled early in his program, similar to what happened at the Pyeongchang Olympics. He rallied Thursday, however, by sticking a triple toe loop on the back end of his quad flip so he would have a required combination. And his spins and footwork were strong and intricate.

But the fall did him in.

Olympic ramifications for Canada

Keegan Messing, the sole Canadian in the field, placed fifth with 93.51 points. A top-10 finish for Messing will gain Canada a second spot in the men's singles event at next February's Beijing Olympics.

"I'm trying to go out there and skate for family, skate for team camaraderie, so I can put the best performance out and try to keep some of those nerves to a minimum," said Messing. "And just hope that it's enough."

WATCH | Keegan Messing of Canada sits in 5th place:

Canada's Messing 5th after men's short program at world championships

8 months ago
5:33
Keegan Messing of Canada sits in fifth place after scoring 93.51 for his short program at the world figure skating championships Thursday in Stockholm, Sweden. 5:33

Beyond the top tier, it was a flop-fest for several of the top men: Olympic silver medallist Shoma Uno, American Vincent Zhou and China's Jin Boyang.

Zhou, a bronze medallist at the 2019 worlds — the event was cancelled last March due to the pandemic — had one of the worst skates of his young career. Zhou fell on his quad lutz, under-rotated on his combination quad salchow-triple toe loop and then fell on a triple lutz. Looking bewildered by such a poor performance, Zhou plummeted to 25th and did not qualify for the free skate on Saturday.

"Clearly that's not a result that I even wanted to consider coming into this competition. It's disappointing," Zhou said. "To me, it feels like I let down my teammates and myself, but dwelling on those things is only going to make me feel worse. I'm probably going to be miserable and then not dwell on it. I can't let today get to my head."

Uno crashed hard on his triple axel, while Jin, a two-time world bronze winner, fell on a quad lutz and then messed up the second jump in his combination. Uno wound up sixth, Jim was 19th.

Later Thursday is the pairs free skate, with Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii of Russia holding a 2.54-point edge over two-time world winners Sui Wenjing and Han Cong of China. The two American pairs are sixth and seventh, respectively.

THAT FIGURE SKATING SHOW | Javier Fernandez discusses Yuma Kagiyama:

'He surprised the whole world': Javier Fernandez on 17-year-old Japanese skater Yuma Kagiyama

8 months ago
2:03
On today's live episode of 'That Figure Skating Show', 2015 & 2016 world champion Javier Fernandez joined Dylan & Asher to talk the men's skates and was in awe of the stacked field coming out of Japan. 2:03

Russian rookies golden in pairs

Russians Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov, in their first worlds, were spectacular in capturing the gold medal. Their complex technical elements for the free skate, including exceptional lifts capped by Mishina riding Galliamov's back for nearly half the rink, were accompanied by lots of vigor in a routine to Queen music.

That performance lifted them from third place and past two-time world winners Sui Wenjing and Han Cong of China, who were plagued by several mistakes on side-by-side jumps.

"We're really surprised to come in first," Mishina said. "I don't know what to say for the moment because we don't understand it yet.

"Thanks to everybody who supported us. Maybe we didn't have anyone here but we know a lot of people watched on television and we felt the support."

WATCH | Mishina, Galliamov take pairs gold:

Russians Mishina and Galliamov skate to world championship pairs gold medal

8 months ago
9:22
2019 world junior pairs champions Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov won gold at the ISU world figure skating championships in Stockholm. 9:22

Short program leaders Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovkskii slipped to third, also after two falls.

Kirsten Moore-Towers of St. Catharines, Ont., and Michael Marinaro of Sarnia, Ont., finished sixth. Evelyn Walsh of London, Ont and Trent Michaud of Trenton, Ont., were 12th.

"We definitely skated for ourselves today," said Moore-Towers. "We were excited to show that program and I think that was something that was lacking [Wednesday]. I think it showed in our skating."

The two American pairs struggled after solid short programs. U.S. champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier wound up seventh, with Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc were ninth.

WATCH | Moore-Towers, Marinaro land 6th:

Canadian pair Moore-Towers and Marinaro finish 6th at world championships

8 months ago
8:00
Canadian duo Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro moved up from tenth place after the short program to finish sixth overall at the ISU world figure skating championships in Stockholm. 8:00

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now