Rocketman on top of the world From what we had seen previously this season, the battle for the men's title looked like it would be tight.
But despite Yuzuru Hanyu leaving absolutely everything out on the ice, it was Nathan Chen who secured what was a comfortable victory in the end with Kevin Aymoz producing two huge personal best skates to take bronze.
The American won by 44 points from the double Olympic gold medallist thanks to two career-best routines in Turin.
In the short program, ] was just a fraction outside Hanyu's world record with the Japanese missing his combination minutes later.
That saw him take a 13-point lead into the free skate, and he had to listen backstage to the roars as the crowd favourite skated on his 25th birthday.
Hanyu landed five quads, including the quad Lutz he brought back for this competition, before sheer exhaustion saw him pop his intended closing triple Axel-triple Axel and collapse at the end of a thrilling, gutsy performance.
But the double world champion was simply sublime in his skate to music from the Elton John biopic Rocketman with all five quads executed superbly on his way to a new world record free skate and total score.
While Hanyu hopes to land the quad Axel - which he attempted in practice - at March's World Championships, he has a big gap to close on Chen who shows no sign of letting up despite being in his second year of studies at Yale University.
There was Yuzuru Hanyu, the world’s most acclaimed active figure skater, waiting by himself in the Kiss and Cry to get his scores after a disappointing short program performance at last week’s Grand Prix Final in Turin, Italy. At that moment in a competition, a coach is almost always at the skater’s side.
Once one of Hanyu’s coaches at his Toronto Cricket Club training base, Ghislain Briand, eventually showed up two days late, there would be a simple explanation for why Hanyu had been alone.
And yet even that would not explain why Hanyu’s primary coach, Brian Orser, had not gone to Italy for the second most important competition of the Japanese superstar’s season.
Was there a rift between the skater and the man who had coached him to two Olympic gold medals, two world titles and four Grand Prix Final titles in the seven seasons since Hanyu came to train under Orser?
“I know it looks like there is trouble in paradise, but there isn’t,” Orser said Tuesday via telephone.
“We have bumps in the relationship like any people who have worked closely with each other for a long time, but I feel pretty confident everything is fine. We were working great together this season, and he was skating very well – over 300 points at both his (regular season) Grand Prix events.”
Orser expected to talk with Hanyu about the situation Wednesday, when the skater was to return to practice at the Cricket Club after finishing a distant second Saturday to Nathan Chen of the United States in the Grand Prix Final. Hanyu had 291.43 points to Chen’s 335.50.
Much to Orser’s dismay and disappointment, the reaction to his absence was, like many things in the social media era, blown far out of proportion by some in Hanyu’s adoring and occasionally verbally belligerent fan base.
“So many fans were very angry at me,” Orser said. “They were blaming me and the Cricket Club for the bad start. By my not being there, it looked like I didn’t care. I wanted to go and was ready to go, but my hands were completely tied.”
Both Orser and Briand had been with Hanyu at NHK. Briand is considered a jump maestro, and Hanyu wanted to increase the difficulty of his jump content for the Final.
Even Orser’s absence from Turin might have been less noticeable if a missing passport had not forced Briand to return to Canada after landing in Germany for his connecting flight to Turin. (Briand told the Olympic Channel the passport had been stolen.) He got to Turin Friday.
That meant no one was with Hanyu when official practices began Wednesday and for the short program Thursday. By failing to do a combination in the short program, Hanyu fell nearly 13 points behind, an insurmountable margin unless Chen made one or two big mistakes in the free skate.
Papadakis and Cizeron a class apart While Team Tutberidze currently has a stranglehold on ladies' singles skating, 'Team Gadbois' exerts a similar grip on ice dance.
Skaters trained by Marie-France Dubreuil, Patrice Lauzon and Romain Haguenauer in Montreal's Gadbois Arena swept the podium with Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron occupying the top step yet again.
The French pair had a slight mishap in their rhythm dance - to music from the 1980s TV show Fame complete with legwarmers and gym gear - with Papadakis recovering quickly from a trip caused by her skate hitting a rut on the ice.
But their free dance, to an eerie ambient soundtrack largely provided by Icelandic artist Olafur Arnalds, was close to perfection with the crowd mesmerised by a truly original and captivating routine.
It's hard to see anyone denying them a fifth world title in March at Montreal's Bell Centre just a couple of kilometres from their home rink.
In their second season as part of Team Gadbois, Madison Chock and Evan Bates produced a free dance personal best to take silver from fellow Americans Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue.
The two teams will be aiming for more hardware in Montreal, but don't rule out Russia's world silver medallists Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov whose sixth place came after their free dance was marked lower than most observers had expected.
Room for improvement for Sui and Han World champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong won the pairs event but it was far from plain sailing for the Chinese.
A hand down from Sui on a throw triple flip in the short program saw them take only a narrow lead into the free skate where Han struggled with his jumping.
They were a close second to compatriots Peng Cheng and Jin Yang on the night, but claimed overall victory by seven points with Peng and Jin taking silver after lying fifth overnight.
Afterwards, Sui admitted that they had struggled with the workload of three competitions in the space of a month so we can expect to see them fresh and ready to defend their world title in Montreal in March.
The Russian challenge faded in the free skate with Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii, who had won both their Grand Prix assignments, slipping from second to fifth.
Bronze did go to Russia, however, with world junior champions Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov moving up from fourth in the short program.
Alena Kostornaya won the Grand Prix Final in figure skating. Anna Shcherbakova took second place, Alexandra Trusova - third.
Training before the most important skates, pre-competition emotions, the reaction of the coaching staff of Eteri Tutberidze during performances, gifts from fans and, of course, the award ceremony for Russian figure skaters. The first channel shows what remains behind the scenes of the tournament in Turin.