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Men’s Short Program Jam-Packed with Talent

 Front page photo courtesy of Elena Vasileva..

It is clear that we are living in a golden era of men’s figure skating. The final two groups of men’s short programs were just tremendous at the World Figure Skating Championships. There were very few flawed programs. These men have taken the sport to a whole new level.

Javier Does it Again

Javier Fernandez may not be the most reliable skater, but he always seems to peak at the World Championships. It’s truly remarkable. He can have a subpar season, but he owns the World Championships and this year is no exception. This was the best short program that we have seen from Fernandez this season. He nailed his opening quad toe-triple toe, landed a solid quad salchow and finished with a stunning triple axel. Though Javier is off to a great start, you can be sure that he will be challenged in the free skate. Another title for Fernandez is not a guarantee, especially in this field.

“I hope to continue like this for the long program the day after tomorrow and for the whole upcoming season,” Javier said according to an ISU press release. “I do believe in the consecutive third gold and will fight for it, but there are so many talented skaters now. They will try to jump on top of my score and take my title.”

Shoma Uno Propelled by Disappointment

At the 2016 World Championships, Shoma Uno finished off the podium in sixth place. He did not perform the way that he hoped, but he’s turning things around and working toward redemption this year.  Shoma opened his program with a gorgeous quad flip, than continued with a quad toe-triple toe and finally landed a nice triple axel.  Uno skates with such passion and when he lands his jumps, he is remarkable.

“Last year, I was very disappointed at the World Championships 2016 and it ended with tears,” Shoma Uno said. “But the experience and the failure taught me a lot. So my goal for the free program is to finish the competition with a happy smile.”

Patrick Chan Joins the 100-Point Club

Patrick Chan reminded us that he is a three-time world champion in his short program today. He has had his struggles coming back into a quad-infested field, but he finally put together a clean short program.  Chan landed two wonderful quads and a triple axel, and included exquisite footwork, transitions and spins. It was great to finally see Patrick perform the way that we all knew that he could. Chan is in third place and back where he belongs—in medal contention. Patrick earned a total of 102.13 points making him a part of the exclusive 100-point club.

“After some disappointments I’ve had, it was a great experience,” Patrick said in the ISU press release. “It was the first time I broke the 100 points in an international event. I’ve had other medals, especially at the Worlds event, I have three championships. For me it is more about the accomplishments, like today. I’m serious. I’m in third, but it feels like I’m in first because I was able to achieve a season’s best over 100 points.”

Boyang Jin is Spiderman

Boyang Jin with his Spiderman short program managed to stay in the mix. He has a quad lutz-triple toe and a triple axel and a quad toe in his short program arsenal and for some reason, which I will not even attempt to explain, this program works for him. Jin captured the audience and they gave him a well deserved standing ovation. The factor for Boyang will be the free skate. In many ways he can hide his weaker qualities in this short program, but it is more difficult to hide it in the free skate. If he performs with all of his quads, he may be able to stay in the mix, but in this deep field it is going to be a challenge for him. He collected 98.64 points and is in fourth place.

Yuzuru Hanyu’s Mishaps Added Up

Olympic Champion Yuzuru Hanyu looked both surprised and disappointed with his scores. He landed a gorgeous quad loop to start the program. It was probably the best quad loop we have seen from him this season. He followed the quad loop with a quad salchow and went down on his knee with the free leg on the landing and than went for a double toe to complete the combination. The double toe was judged invalid. Hanyu’s triple axel was beautiful, but he also got dinged on a time violation. Apparently Yuzuru took too long getting to his starting position and received a 1-point deduction. These mistakes added up, so he is currently sitting in fifth place. Hanyu is less than 0.25 points away from Boyang, so he should be able to make up some points in the free skate.

U.S. Men Battle Nerves

Expectations are high for Nathan Chen. After his performance at the Grand Prix Final and at Four Continents, most expect to see Nathan on the podium at the World Championships. One thing that we have to remember is that this is actually Chen’s World Championships debut. He has never competed at this competition and he is expected to help obtain three Olympic berths for the American team and medal. That’s a tall order.

Nathan opened with a nice quad lutz-triple toe and landed a solid quad flip. The trouble once again came with his triple axel. Chen fell on the landing, which has put him behind Hanyu in sixth place. Nathan is twelve points off the lead, but nine points off from third. He will have to make up some ground in the free skate to make it onto the podium, but it is possible. Rumor has it that he is considering adding a sixth quad in his free skate. If he does that successfully, all bets are off.

“I think the pressure got [to me a little bit],” Nathan said in a U.S. Figure Skating press release. “Before I got on [the ice], this was probably the most nervous I’ve been going into an event all season. It’s a great experience for me and something that I will learn to fix for the long.”

With Jason Brown coming back from an injury, it is amazing that he skated as well as he did. Brown received a personal best score of 93.10 points. Jason skated beautifully and without a quad in his short program he is still in eighth place. That is outstanding. Brown did what he was capable of doing and between Nathan and Jason they still have a fighting chance of getting three spots for the U.S. Olympic team. That is no easy feat in a field this talented.

“I’m not going to lie. It was very nerve-wracking,” Jason admitted. “Along with those nerves comes that excitement. You can hear the audience booming backstage in the locker room and you can hear the applause. [All of that] brings another sense of energy and you get out there and soak that up.”

The free skate takes place on Saturday, April 1. For the full listing of results and scores, visit the results page.

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