Hanyu wins gold in men's free skate

He is first Asian male to win Olympic gold

SOCHI, Russia — Sometimes an Olympic gold medalist is more survivor than anything else.

Yuzuru Hanyu knows the feeling.

Not only did Hanyu make it difficult on himself, he thought he lost all chance at the title Friday night with a mediocre free skate at the Sochi Olympics. Instead, thanks to the mistakes of Patrick Chan and others, Hanyu became Japan's first gold medalist in Olympic men's figure skating.

"Negative feelings were brewing inside of me," Hanyu said. "It was difficult to keep with the performance with all that in my head.

"I thought the gold medal was not in my hands."

It wound up there mainly because his nearly 4-point lead after the short program was enough to overcome his shortcomings in the long.

Also the first Asian man to win Olympic gold, Hanyu fell on his opening jump, a quad salchow, and crashed on his third, a triple flip. That left plenty of room for Canada's Chan to skate through to the top of the podium, but he made three errors in a watered-down program to finish second.

"I had that chance and it slipped out of my hands," Chan said.

Canada has never won the event, either.

Kazakhstan's Denis Ten, the world silver medalist, won bronze in Sochi in a final that was a two-man showdown between Hanyu, 19, and three-time world champion Chan, 23.

Few skaters performed close to their peak on a second consecutive night of competition. Most of them appeared fatigued, particularly at the end of their 41/2;-minute routines. It was one of the sloppiest men's Olympic programs in memory.

"I visualized this evening as one great skate after another," said Brian Orser, Hanyu's coach. "It kind of didn't happen. It was one of those things. Nobody got the momentum going."

Chan skated directly after Hanyu with a chance to do what such renowned Canadian men as Donald Jackson, Kurt Browning, Elvis Stojko and Orser could not. But he wasn't sharp either.

"We all had rough skates," Chan said. "These competitions are about who makes the least mistakes. I had one too many mistakes."

Just minutes before, when Hanyu finished, kneeling, he laid two hands on the ice for a long time, thinking he had blown it.

"I was so nervous and I was so tired," he said. "But I was surprised (to win). I was not happy with my program."

Orser told him not to fret, that the competition wasn't over. And when Chan came up short, the gold was headed to Japan.

Asked if he thought he would win, Hanyu shook his head.

"No, I was so sad," he said.

And he seemed stunned when he saw Chan's scores and realized they weren't enough.

Hanyu skated around the rink draped in a Japanese flag after the flower ceremony. Around the Iceberg rink were about two dozen banners supporting him and the Japanese team.

Ten, coached by Frank Carroll, who helped Evan Lysacek win the 2010 gold medal, surged from ninth to third with a busy free skate that include three spot-on combination jumps. He won Kazakhstan's first Olympic figure skating medal.

American Jason Brown, 19, of Highland Park, Ill., fell from sixth to ninth, earning no points for a triple loop at the end of his program because of a previous false takeoff on an axel that was counted as a jump.

Cross-Country

Sweden's Johan Olsson captured the silver, finishing 28.5 seconds behind Switzerland's Dario Cologna. Another Swede, Daniel Richardsson, took bronze.

Alpine Skiing

Sandro Viletta finished the downhill and slalom runs in a combined time of 2 minutes, 45.20 seconds. Ivica Kostelic of Croatia earned the silver and Christof Innerhofer of Italy got bronze. Americans Brode Miller and Ted Ligety failed to win a medal.

Biathlon

Darya Domracheva of Belarus earned her second gold medal of the games by winning the women's 15-kilometer individual race. Domracheva, who also won the 12.5K pursuit three days ago, missed one target before finishing in 43 minutes, 19.6 seconds.

Freestyle Skiing

Alla Tsuper of Belarus pulled off a stunning upset to win gold in women's aerials. Tsuper beat a field that included defending Olympic champion Lydia Lassila of Australia and two-time Olympic medalist Li Nina of China. The 34-year-old Tsuper had never finished higher than fifth in four previous Olympics. Xu Mengtao of China won silver while Lassila earned bronze.

Skeleton

Lizzy Yarnold of Britain won gold in women's skeleton, beating rival Noelle Pikus-Pace of the United States by a full second. It was Britain's first gold medal in Sochi. Winning the silver allowed Pikus-Pace to reach her goal of closing out her career with an Olympic medal. Elena Nikitina of Russia won the bronze.

Curling

China and Britain won close games in the men's tournament to move into a three-way tie with Sweden atop the 10-country field. China beat Norway 7-5, while Britain topped Denmark 8-6. In the women's tournament, China beat South Korea, Britain defeated Japan, Russia beat Switzerland, and Denmark topped the U.S., all but eliminating the Americans from the playoffs.

Ice Hockey

Canada topped Austria 6-0 in the preliminary rounds of men's hockey. Also, Sweden beat Switzerland 1-0, the Czech Republic downed Latvia 4-2 and Finland defeated Norway 6-1.


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