Today, Dec. 10, 2015 the Grand Prix Final kicked off in Barcelona, Spain where the pairs and men took to the ice for the short program. Not many thought that Olympic Champion Yuzuru Hanyu could top the performance that he gave at the NHK Trophy only two weeks ago, but once again he defied the odds giving another world record breaking performance. If Yuzuru can continue the momentum and win the free skate, he will become the first man in history to win three Grand Prix Finals.
Yuzuru Hanyu opened his program with an effortless quad salchow and continued to skate brilliantly, landing a quad toe-triple toe combination and a stunning triple axel. He not only excelled technically but he gave a stellar artistic performance as well, filled with difficult transitions and deep edges and earned 110.95 points. Yuzuru should have no problem winning the free skate as he currently has almost a full 20 point lead.
Currently holding onto second place is Spaniard Javier Fernandez who overcame Hanyu at the world championships last year and trains with Hanyu as well. Fernandez fell out of his opening quad salchow but continued the rest of his program without error. Sitting in third is China’s Boyang Jin who landed two quadruple jumps, one being the quad lutz.
The biggest surprise of the event is that three-time world champion, Patrick Chan is in last place. He turned his intended quad toe into a triple toe and as an attempt to make up lost points he turned his triple lutz into a triple lutz-triple toe combination. This strategy did not pay off though because according to the rules, the same triple jump cannot be performed more than one time in the short program. Chan’s combination was then considered invalid and he only received points for the opening triple toe and nothing for the combination. Patrick beat Hanyu at Skate Canada only a few weeks ago, but now he has a lot of ground to make up and it is unlikely that he will make it onto the podium.
The pairs short program also took place today and expectations were high for reigning world champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford. They made some uncharacteristic mistakes as Duhamel fell on the landing of the throw triple lutz and they are currently in third place. Taking the lead is 2014 Olympic silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov. They have struggled off and on this season, but had a strong short program. Fellow Russians, Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov are in second place heading into the free skate.
American pair Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim are the first American team to make the Grand Prix Final since 2007. Unfortunately, Alexa popped the side-by-side triple salchows, which negatively affected their score. Scimeca and Knierim are currently in sixth place, but have been known to rally after a rough short and come back strong in the free skate. In a field of this magnitude it will be a challenge for them to move up. “It’s amazing, we’re all here for a reason, not because you’re a weak pairs team,” Chris said according to a USFS media release. “Everyone here is great and everyone here can fight for a podium at worlds. The field has world champions and Olympic medalists so it’s a big field and that’s why it’s the Grand Prix Final.”
The top four pairs teams are separated by less than four points, so the fight for gold should be fierce. The Grand Prix Final continues tomorrow, Dec. 11 with the short dance, the pairs free skate and the ladies short program. Tune into the IceNetwork to watch live or check your local listing for coverage on NBC.
Men’s short program results:
1. Yuzuru Hanyu JPN – 110.95 (WATCH NOW)
2. Javier Fernandez ESP – 91.52 (WATCH NOW)
3. Boyang Jin CHN – 86.95 (WATCH NOW)
4. Shoma Uno JPN – 86.47 (WATCH NOW)
5. Daisuke Murakami JPN – 83.47 (WATCH NOW)
6. Patrick Chan CAN – 70.61 (WATCH NOW)
Pairs short program results:
1 Ksenia STOLBOVA / Fedor KLIMOV RUS 74.84 (WATCH NOW)
2 Yuko KAVAGUTI / Alexander SMIRNOV RUS 73.64 (WATCH NOW)
3 Meagan DUHAMEL / Eric RADFORD CAN 72.74 (WATCH NOW)
4 Julianne SEGUIN / Charlie BILODEAU CAN 71.16 (WATCH NOW)
5 Xiaoyu YU / Yang JIN CHN 68.63 (WATCH NOW)
6 Alexa SCIMECA / Chris KNIERIM USA 68.14 (WATCH NOW)
7 Cheng PENG / Hao ZHANG CHN 65.60 (WATCH NOW)