Yuzuru Hanyu lays down a marker at NHK Trophy
Japan’s men’s singles Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu gave the home fans plenty to cheer as he took a strong lead in the men’s short program at the NHK Trophy in Sapporo.
The competition is the sixth and last event in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series 2016/2017 and provides the last opportunity for skaters to qualify for the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final.
And Hanyu was in strong form, pulling off a quadruple Salchow-triple toe, triple Axel and quad loop with a step out on the way to scoring a season’s best of 103.89 points.
The 2015 World silver medallist said: “I was not able to land the quad loop cleanly and I’m very disappointed about that, however, I really was able to enjoy my skating today and I hope it will carry over to tomorrow and the next competition.”
Saturday sees men’s competition conclude with the free skate with Hanyu currently enjoying a comfortable lead over American Nathan Chen on 87.94 and Keiji Tanaka of Japan on 80.49.
In the ladies competition it is Russia’s Anna Pogorilaya who leads at the half-way stage from compatriot Maria Sotskova.
Pogorilaya, a world bronze medallist earlier this year, picked up 71.56 points for her short program with Sotskova close behind on 69.96 while Japanese home favourite Satoko Miyahara lies third on 64.20.
Elsewhere Cheng Peng and Yang Jin of China hold a narrow lead after the Pairs short program over Canada’s Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford.
The Chinese duo set a new personal best with 73.3 points with two-time and reigning World Champions Duhamel and Radford second on72.95 points with China’s Xuehan Wang and Lei Wang third on 65.66.