Double Olympic champion Hanyu Yuzuru made a stunning return to his PyeongChang 2018 routines by setting a new world record score in the men's short program at the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Seoul.
The 25-year-old scored highly on the +5/-5 grade of execution (GOE) scale for all three of his jumping elements: a quadruple Salchow, quad toe-loop triple toe-loop combination, and a triple Axel.
It was an ethereal performance; the jumps looked effortless as he received 111.82 points from the judges, breaking his own record of 110.53 set at the 2018 Rostelecom Cup.
Earlier, defending ice dance champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates came from behind to retain their title, despite a fall in the rhythm dance.
Winning return Hanyu had decided that his previous programs this season did not reflect his own character, thus opting to go back to his PyeongChang music.
Skating to Frederic Chopin's Ballade No. 1 in G Minor, and wearing a similar white-and-baby-blue gradient shirt to his previous outing in Korea, the Japanese appeared completely at ease with his program.
The fans in the crowd were waiting eagerly to see what he would produce, and greeted his opening quad Salchow with deafening screams.
He had said upon arrival that "currently I can skate my best to Seimei and Ballade No. 1", and so proved it here in the short.
The quad Salchow and quad toe, triple toe jumping passes both scored higher than 4 on GOE, while his triple Axel was awarded a 3.77 GOE. The only other skater to be awarded a GOE over 3 for a jump was Lausanne 2020 Youth Olympic Games champion Kagiyama Yuma, whose opening quad toe scored 3.26.
Yuzuru Hanyu took gold at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships on Sunday, following his record-breaking men's short program performance by topping the field in the free skate.
Despite touching the ice on his opening quadruple Lutz and falling on a quad toe loop, Japan's two-time Olympic champion scored enough with his remaining elements for a convincing win at Seoul's Mokdong Ice Rink.
The 25-year-old Hanyu earned 187.60 points for the segment and 299.42 overall to capture his first Four Continents title.
Japan's Yuma Kagiyama completed an impressive senior international debut with the third-best free skate score of 179.00 to finish third overall at 270.61.
The 16-year-old, who recently won the 2020 Winter Youth Olympics men's championship, finished 4.21 points behind silver medalist Jason Brown of the United States.
With his victory, two-time world champion and four-time Grand Prix Final winner Hanyu claimed the highest-profile international title to have eluded him.
"It was good to win it finally. I can't say I'm happy about my performance, but I really wanted to win this competition," said Hanyu, who hopes his new routine will help him reclaim his world championship crown from American rival, Nathan Chen.
"I haven't perfected this routine yet. I have to put in more time on it."
Wenjing Sui and Cong Han of China bounced back after a subpar Short Program to defend and claim their fifth title at this event in Seoul, South Korea, on Saturday night. Teammates Cheng Peng and Yang Jin maintained second to win the silver, improving on their third place from last year, while Canada’s Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro pocketed the bronze.
Sui and Han immersed themselves in their dramatic routine to “Rain, In Your Black Eyes,” producing a very good level 4 triple twist, triple Salchow-double toe-double toes, a throw triple Salchow and throw triple flip. All lifts were very well executed and earned a level 4, as did the death spiral and spin. The only mistake was when Sui doubled the triple Salchows. The 2018 Olympic silver medalists scored 144.34 for a first-place finish in the free skate, and with a total score of 217.51, rose from third to first overall.
“It was pity because I was able to land it almost every time in training recently,” said Sui of the double Salchow. “But maybe because it went too well in the training, I got a little bit relaxed. A little bit of overthinking too much when in the program, then you do a double. We were very happy that we were able to get all level 4 on the elements. This never happened before and that shows the result of our recent training.”
“To be honest, recently it’s a bit difficult to train and to focus because we were concerned if we could go abroad to take this competition,” she added. “But thanks to our association, and thanks to our country that really protect us from the virus so that we can train and don’t have to worry about not participating in this competition.”