By Shigemi Sato (AFP) – Nov 23, 2012
RIFU, Japan — Hometown boy Yuzuru Hanyu broke his own short-programme world record to lead the figure skating Grand Prix in Japan at an arena that doubled as a mortuary after the 2011 quake-tsunami disaster.
The 17-year-old landed a clean quadruple jump followed by a triple axel and a triple-triple combination to collect 95.32 points in the short programme at the NHK Trophy event, the sixth and last leg of the ISU Grand Prix series.
He trumped his previous record of 95.07, scored at the season-opening Skate America event in which he had to settle for second overall behind compatriot Takahiko Kozuka after falling in the free programme.
Skating to the music of Parisian Walkaways by Gary Moore, the 2010 world junior champion also hit a maximum level-four in three kinds of spins as a full-house crowd of 7,000 roard him on.
Veteran compatriot Daisuke Takahashi, the 2010 world champion, trailed Hanyu in second spot on 87.47.
Spaniard Javier Fernandez, who trains with Hanyu under Canadian coach Brian Orser in Toronto, was in third spot on 86.23.
"I felt good with all the jumps," Hanyu said. "I feel much more satisfied than at my last Grand Prix because I could prove that it was not a fluke when I scored so much for the first time.
"I have trained harder still since Skate America where I made no mistakes (in the short programme). I had confidence and I skated cautiously where I needed to."
Fernandez, 21, who won his first career GP title at Skate Canada a month ago, said: "I am very happy as I have absolutely fought in every way. I am also happy about Yuzuru's record, but in the free programme (on Saturday) it's gonna be a little bit harder for both of us."
Hanyu's hometown of Sendai, a big city in northern Japan, was hit by the double disaster 20 months ago putting the skating rink where he was training out of use.
He found alternative venues to practise and appeared in 60 ice shows on the road, managing to win his first Grand Prix title at the Cup of Russia last year. He lifted the bronze at the world championships last March.
The 2012 NHK Trophy venue, the Sekisui Heim Super Arena, is located in a sports park just outside Sendai and some eight kilometres (five miles) from the tsunami-swept Pacific coast.
The arena was used as a temporary mortuary for three months after the catastrophe while other facilities in the park were used as a shelter and a base for relief operations.
In the ice dancing, 2011 world champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White collected 69.86 points in a polka-based short dance with fellow Americans Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani trailing on 60.84.
The Russian duo of Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov followed in third spot on 59.96.
"It's a lot of fun so we really wanted to show that and experience it ourselves. I think we really accomplished that and we are happy with that," said White.
Davis and White, the runners-up to Canadian arch rivals Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir at the 2010 Olympics and this year's world championships, won the season-opening Skate US title after scoring 71.39 in the short programme.
Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved. More »