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Hanyu fourth in short program

MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO – Sochi Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu struggled to fourth place after an uncharacteristically flawed short program on Friday at Skate Canada, the second event of the Grand Prix series.

Skating to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy,” Hanyu had his opening quad downgraded after dropping to one knee on his landing and nearly touched the ice on his triple salchow. The only jump he nailed was a triple axel.

Hanyu, whose personal-best score in the short is 110.95 points, tallied just 79.65 and goes into the free skate over 10 points behind the leader, Canada’s Patrick Chan.

“I’m really disappointed,” said Hanyu. “I think I paid too much attention to various aspects of my skate. I became too cautious.

“But that’s the way it goes, I will turn things around,” added the 21-year-old from Sendai.

The three-time world champion Chan fell on a triple axel but was otherwise error-free, taking the lead with 90.56 points. Takahito Mura is second with 81.24 and Canada’s Kevin Reynolds third with 80.57.

“Today I felt good energy, a lot of excitement, lot of adrenaline rushing through the body after landing the opening jump,” stated Chan. “The axel just kind of got away from me. I felt very good with the footwork, everything else felt really clean.”

Mura had a shaky landing on his opening quad toe loop. He added a triple toe loop to a planned one-off triple lutz but was less than pleased with his performance.

“This was one of the worst short programs I’ve done recently,” noted Mura. “As far as the spins and the steps are concerned, the levels were very low. I’m quite mad at myself about the short program.”

In the women’s competition, 2015 world silver medalist Satoko Miyahara could only manage fifth place, one slot behind compatriot Rika Hongo, after the short program that was topped by 16-year-old world champion Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia with 76.24 points.

“My jumps were no good. That is the most disappointing thing,” said Miyahara.

Medvedeva became the youngest world champion since Tara Lipinski in 1997 with her triumph in Boston back in April.

Since winning the world junior title in 2015 she has been all but unstoppable, with victories in the Grand Prix Final, the European Championships and worlds.

“My performance was really good, but I can have more speed in my spins and I can interpret my program better,” said Medvedeva. “My short program corresponds to my current situation, it is about growing up, not so much physically, but about how your inner world changes when you grow up.”

Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond is second with 74.33 and Russia’s Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, the 2015 world champion, third with 66.79. Yuka Nagai is in 11th and last place.

“It’s been a long time coming to be able to do a program like that and finally to get a personal best score like that,” Osmond commented. “For so many years I’ve been working towards it and it feels so good to finally do it again, to skate great again.”

Canadian stars Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir topped the short dance in their return to competition, scoring 77.23 points. Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates were second at 76.21.

Canada’s Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford won the pairs short program at 78.39. China’s Yu Xiaoyu and Zhang Hao were a distant second with 69.43.

Meanwhile, Japan Skating Federation director Yoshiko Kobayashi said Friday that Sota Yamamoto has pulled out of the Grand Prix series due to a slower-than-expected recovery from a stress fracture in his right ankle.

The 16-year-old Yamamoto had been entered in the Trophee Bompard and NHK Trophy next month.

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