Nathan Chen holds off Yuzuru Hanyu to win first Grand Prix
U.S. champion Nathan Chen opened the Grand Prix season by beating Olympic gold-medal favorite Yuzuru Hanyu.
Chen, 18, held off Hanyu at Rostelecom Cup in Moscow, totaling 293.79 points to win by 3.02 over the Japanese megastar.
Russian Yevgenia Medvedeva easily won the women’s title despite a rare fall in her free skate. Medvedeva is undefeated since 2015 Rostelecom Cup.
Chen landed four quadruple jumps in a strong but imperfect free skate for his first Grand Prix title in his second senior international season.
“I got a little tired halfway through the program and started faltering a little bit on the second quad toe – that was a big mistake,” Chen said, according to the International Skating Union ."I can’t let things like that happen in the future. But this is my first Grand Prix win, and I’m very happy with that.”
Hanyu outscored Chen in the free skate, but the American benefited from his 5.69-point lead from Friday’s short program.
Hanyu, the reigning Olympic and world champion, has never won his opening Grand Prix start in eight tries.
He did three quadruple jumps in Saturday’s free skate rather than the planned five, but did not fall as he did in the short program.
Chen has now outscored Hanyu in three of their last four head-to-head events dating to February. Hanyu got the better of Chen at the most important event -- winning the world championships, where the American was sixth.
In the women’s event Saturday, Medvedeva fell on her very last jump, a double Axel, and appeared to smile and laugh it off. Victory -- her 10th straight internationally dating back two years -- was already assured by that point.
“It was a kind of moral weakness – I let out my joy too early,” Medvedeva said, according to the ISU. “But it was a useful mistake, and I will learn from it.”
The 17-year-old distanced Olympic bronze medalist Carolina Kostner of Italy by 15.23 points despite breaking a streak of 14 straight programs without a fall.
Japan’s Wakaba Higuchi was third. That meant Russian Yelena Radionova (the only woman to beat Medvedeva in senior international competition) missed the podium for the first time in nine Grand Prix starts (not counting Grand Prix Finals).
Mariah Bell and Mirai Nagasu, who went three-four at last season’s U.S. Championships, labored to sixth- and ninth-place finishes in Moscow. They’ll look to improve the rest of the fall and at January’s nationals, after which the three-woman Olympic team will be named.
Also Saturday, two-time world medalists Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani won the ice dance with 189.24 points, sweeping both the short and free programs.
The siblings and U.S. champions have now won four straight Grand Prix titles (not counting the Grand Prix Final).
They won by 4.5 points over Russians Yekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Soloviyev.
The world’s top two couples were not in the field -- Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron.
Russia swept the pairs podium, led by world bronze medalists Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov.
The top pairs teams from the rest of the world -- including world champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong -- were not in the field.
The Grand Prix season continues next weekend with Skate Canada, headlined by three-time U.S. champion Ashley Wagner and three-time world champion Patrick Chan.
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1. Nathan Chen (USA) -- 293.79
2. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) -- 290.77
3. Mikhail Kolyada (RUS) -- 271.06
11. Grant Hochstein (USA) -- 206.09
1. Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS) -- 231.21
2. Carolina Kostner (ITA) -- 215.98
3. Wakaba Higuchi (JPN) -- 207.17
6. Mariah Bell (USA) -- 188.56
9. Mirai Nagasu (USA) -- 178.25
1. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) -- 189.24
2. Yekaterina Bobrova/Dmitry Soloviyev (RUS) -- 184.74
3. Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin (RUS) -- 179.35
7. Rachel Parsons/Michael Parsons (USA) -- 148.75
1. Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) -- 224.25
2. Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov (RUS) -- 204.43
3. Kristina Astakhova/Aleksey Rogonov (RUS) -- 199.11
7. Marissa Castelli/Mervin Tran (USA) -- 170.53