U.S. fig­ure skater Chen wins 3rd Grand Prix

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Sports -

TURIN, Italy — Amer­i­can fig­ure skater Nathan Chen won the Grand Prix Fi­nals for the third sea­son in a row Satur­day, beat­ing Olympic gold medal­ist Yuzuru Hanyu by a dom­i­nant 44-point mar­gin.

Chen and Hanyu both landed five quadru­ple jumps in their free skates, a num­ber that was al­most unimag­in­able in skat­ing even a few years ago, but Chen skated his pro­gram clean to score a to­tal 335.20 points, while Hanyu made cru­cial er­rors.

The women’s com­pe­ti­tion too demon­strated the rapid ath­letic progress in skat­ing, with two of the medal­ists land­ing quads, though win­ner Alena Kos­tor­naia’s big­gest jumps were triple ax­els. Olympic gold medal­ist Alina Zag­i­tova didn’t even make the podium.

The only dif­fi­cult mo­ment for Chen came on a com­bi­na­tion when he im­pro­vised a triple sal­chow in­stead of a flip af­ter com­ing off his pre­vi­ous jump in a less-than-ideal po­si­tion.

Chen be­came only the sec­ond men’s skater to win the Grand Prix Fi­nals three times in a row. The only other skater to have done that is Hanyu, who won four straight com­pe­ti­tions from 2013 through 2016.

Hanyu dropped points late in the pro­gram with just a sin­gle axel in­stead of a triple. The Ja­panese skater crouched on the ice at the end of his skate and looked ex­hausted, scor­ing 291.43.

It was the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive skate with un­char­ac­ter­is­tic er­rors from Hanyu, who missed a com­bi­na­tion in Fri­day’s short pro­gram.

Skat­ing on his 25th birth­day, Hanyu landed five quads in a pro­gram for the first time, and paid trib­ute to Chen, say­ing the com­pet­i­tive­ness be­tween them was driv­ing the sport for­ward.

“Some­times some­body says (if) fig­ure skat­ing is a sport or not, and I’m re­ally feel­ing it’s a sport in here,” Hanyu said.

Chen re­turned the com­pli­ment, say­ing: “It’s an amaz­ing honor to be able to com­pete against Yuzuru. I’ve looked up to him, idol­ized him for years and even now he’s some­one who is truly like a skat­ing god to me.”

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