Hanyu, Medvedeva retain titles despite flaws
Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu became the first skater to win four straight men’s Grand Prix Final titles on Saturday as Russian teenager Evgenia Medvedeva defended her women’s crown. Olympic champion Hanyu took gold despite a fall which saw the 22-year-old place just third in the free skating final in Marseille. American Nathan Chen landed four quadruple jumps in his free skate to move up from fifth to silver medal position with Japan’s Shoma Uno taking a second consecutive bronze.
The three men’s favourites-Hanyu, Spaniard Javier Fernandez and Canadian Patrick Chan-all had bad tumbles during the elite six-skater competition. “I don’t know what happened today. I was feeling a little tired, every jump was hard,” said Hanyu who scored 293.90 points in total, over ten points ahead of Chen (282.85), who put the US men back on the podium for the first time since 2009, with Uno scoring 282.51.
Reigning two-time world champion Fernandez (268.77) and former three-time world champion Chan (266.75) saw their challenges collapse to fourth and fifth respectively. American Adam Rippon finished sixth. Chen, 17, gave a remarkable performance with the top score of 197.55 points for his free skate to Polovtsian Dances-ten points better than Hanyu achieved for his skate to Hope and Legacy by Joe Hisaishi. But Hanyu nevertheless held his top place from the short programme to become the second man to win four titles after Russian Yevgeny Plushenko, but first to win four in a row.
“The programme is on the theme of hope and legacy and this is like my life, or my skating life,” explained former world champion Hanyu. “Some people hate me, lots of people love me, so sometimes I am sad and sometimes I am happy. These two halves are what the programme shows.” Earlier Medvedeva narrowly missed out on an historic all-time score to win her second women’s title as Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir made a winning return by claiming the ice dancing crown. The 17-year-old Medvedeva earned 227.66 points, just a point off the record total of 228.6 set by South Korean star Kim Yu-na six years ago. Japan’s Satoko Miyahara scored 218.33 for second place with Anna Pogorilaya of Russia taking third place with 216.47. Medvedeva was far from perfect with an error on a triple flip at the start of her routine to the music of Alexandre Desplat depriving her of the record score. “I expected more from myself. I wanted to do more and I could have done more,” said Medvedeva.
But the world champion nevertheless finished nearly 10 points ahead of 18-year-old Miyahara thanks to her incredible performance in Friday’s short programme where her 79.21 points eclipsed Mao Asada’s record 78.66 two years ago. There were four Russians in the sixskater field with Maria Sotskova finishing fifth and Elena Radionova sixth. Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond was fourth. Virtue and Moir, the 2010 Olympic champions, have come back strong after two seasons off, winning the only title to have eluded them in their long career.
The Canadians scored 197.22 points to take gold ahead of two-time world champion ice dancers Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France (192.81) alongside whom they train in Montreal. “For us this title is really huge,” said Moir of a championship where they took silver four times. —