Yuzuru Hanyu rallies for world title; Nathan Chen struggles in free skate
Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu rallied with a record free-skate score to win his second world title on Saturday.
U.S. champion Nathan Chen finished sixth, falling twice while attempting a record six quadruple jumps in Helsinki.
The Olympic champion Hanyu, fifth after Thursday’s short program, silenced the doubters by landing four quadruple jumps in a flawless free. Hanyu broke his scoring record by 3.72 points in Helsinki.
His total score was 321.59 points, the third-highest of all time. Hanyu also owns Nos. 1 and 2.
Countryman Shoma Uno was second, 2.28 points behind, followed by China’s Jin Boyang. Uno and Jin, both 19 years old, broke their personal-best total scores.
Spain’s Javier Fernandez, the 2015 and 2016 World champion, fell from first after the short program to fourth overall.
Later Saturday, Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir capped an undefeated comeback season with their third world title and first since 2012. That despite Moir tripping during their free dance.
Hanyu had led after the short program at the previous two worlds, only to drop to silver behind training partner Fernandez with errors in his free skate both times.
Hanyu trailed Fernandez by 10.66 points following Thursday’s short, after a poor landing on his jumping combination.
“After the short program I was quite depressed, I was so deeply depressed,” Hanyu said after winning Saturday, according to a Japanese translator. “But I think the fans and my team believed in me, so I was able to pull off this performance today.”
Chen, a 17-year-old with aspirations of becoming the youngest men’s world champion ever, fell in both his short program and free skate.
In the free, he snapped a streak of 20 straight quadruple jumps landed in competition dating to December.
“I planned this program because I’m a strong technical skater, and that’s something that has been working for me this season,” said Chen, who upped his free-skate content from five quads to six. “I threw in that extra quad, but it didn’t really play out how I wanted it to. It’s a good step for me. This is the longest season that I’ve ever had and we’re here at Worlds, so it’s a good experience for me. I’ve learned a lot this week.”
Chen said this week that he had trouble sleeping due to nerves and was dealing with boot problems. He scored 16.74 points lower overall than at the Four Continents Championships last month. The Four Continents score was the highest in the world this season coming into worlds. Hanyu and Uno surpassed it this week.
Chen finished directly above countryman Jason Brown in the final standings (though separated by 21.15 points), earning the U.S. three men’s spots at the 2018 Olympics after they had two in Sochi.
The Sochi Olympian Brown attempted one quad, falling, but otherwise had a clean free skate.
The three-man U.S. team for the PyeongChang Olympics will be announced after January’s U.S. Championships, taking into account results not only from nationals but also the two most recent seasons.
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Gold: Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) -- 321.59
Silver: Shoma Uno (JPN) -- 319.31
Bronze: Jin Boyang (CHN) -- 303.58
6. Nathan Chen (USA) -- 290.72
7. Jason Brown (USA) -- 269.57