Chen tops Hanyu to win men’s free skate at World Team Trophy

Sports
Nathan Chen

USA’s Nathan Chen performs during the men’s free skating program of the ISU World Team Trophy figure skating competition in Osaka, western Japan, Friday, April 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)

OSAKA, Japan (AP) — Three-time world champion Nathan Chen won the free skate at the figure skating World Team Trophy on Friday to continue his dominance of two-time Olympic gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu.

First after the short program, Chen opened with a quadruple flip and landed a quad salchow in the first half of his routine set to a selection of music by Philip Glass.

Winner of the past five U.S. titles, Chen landed two more quadruple toeloops as part of combination jumps to score 203.24 points.

Hanyu, who was second after the short program, opened with a quad loop but could only manage a single salchow instead of a planned quad salchow on his second jump. He added two quad toeloops later in his program and finished with 193.76 points.

Russian skater Mikhail Kolyada was third with 180.72 points.

Chen became the first American since Scott Hamilton to win a third consecutive World Figure Skating Championships men’s title in Stockholm, Sweden, last month where he also beat Hanyu.

Chen has not lost a competition since the 2018 Olympics.

The biennial World Team Trophy features the six best figure skating teams from the 2020-21 season.

Teams from Japan, the United States, Canada, France, Russia and Italy are taking part.

Chen said he appreciated the rare opportunity to compete in a team format.

“I don’t think I would have been able to perform as well as I have over the past few years had it not been for these guys pushing me forward so a lot of credit goes to them,” Chen said.

Russia led the competition after the second day with 91 points, eight ahead of the United States. Japan was third with 78 points.

Russia finished first in the free dance to claim the ice dance gold.

Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov, first after the rhythm dance, received 130.15 points in the free dance. Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri of Italy were second with 124.75 followed by Americans Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker with 110.16.

Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov of Russia were first after the pairs short program with 73.77 points. Nicole Della Monica and Matteo Guarise of Italy were second with 66.09 points followed by Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara of Japan with 65.82.

Each country sends two men, two women, one pair and one ice-dancing entry. The points will be combined across the four disciplines with the highest point total winning.

The World Team Trophy was first held in 2009. Team USA has won four of the previous six competitions with the other two won by Japan. The U.S. is the defending champion.

A limited number of fans were allowed into Maruzen Intec Arena even though Osaka is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases.

On Friday, Japan’s second-largest city recorded more than 1,209 cases, its highest total since January.

With less than a year to go until the Beijing Olympics, many of the world’s top skaters are in Osaka, eager to get in another competition after several International Skating Union events were cancelled this season due to the pandemic.

The competition concludes Saturday with the women’s free skate and the pairs free skate.

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