2015.11.27 - NHK杯 SP - inside skating - Florentina Tone: Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu enters history. Again.

He owned the previous World record score for the short program, Yuzuru Hanyu, with the 101.45 points awarded to him in Sochi, at 2014 Olympics – but after a stunning, jaw-dropping routine at NHK Trophy in Nagano, the 20-year-old added almost 5 points to that, establishing a new, up-in-the-sky record score for this particular segment of the men’s event (106.33 points). And it wouldn’t be for the first time he’s done that: the current Olympic champion has broken the SP record for five times already, and this itself is a historical feat, previously done only by Russia’s Evgeni Plushenko. It is as if World records are glued to Yuzuru Hanyu, his main task on the (figure skating) planet being to break them again, and again, leaving the audience in complete amazement. Minutes after this performance, the TV camera stopped, for a second, on a lady in the Big Hat arena in Nagano: hands on her mouth, she was still savouring the moment.

by Florentina Tone

You must have seen his eyes, those determined, fierce eyes, at the end of his Chopin short program – a glorious moment, speaking mountains of this young man’s talent and determination. Yuzuru Hanyu had done it again: a performance out of this world, including two quadruple jumps, one in combination, spins to die for, with difficult variations and highlighting all the nuances of the piano, and, atop of everything, wonderful musicality. Chopin’s Ballade no. 1, embracing Yuzuru as if it were a second skin, might very well be the greatest musical choice of his entire career, and the program itself, a masterpiece, looking fresh and new with every public showing; and this is a commendable outcome, if we take into account the fact that the Japanese skates this routine for the second season in a row.

Now, on to the technicalities: from where we stand, the decision to turn the triple-triple combination in the SP into a quadruple-triple one is definitely a plus; and not only scores-wise. The triple Lutz-triple Toe has been, more than once, Achilles’ heel in Yuzuru’s case, the element bombing his short program; and if the quad Toe-triple Toe is consistent, it might prove a more reliable option. Why two quads? Coming from a skater with loads of determination and nerves of steel, the answer seems simple: – it was necessary. In Yuzuru Hanyu’s own words: “At a certain point, I felt I had to include two quads in the short program. As the Olympic champion, I felt that it is necessary, as I prepare for the 2018 Olympics”.

One thing is sure: the highlight of this year’s edition of NHK Trophy might have already happened on the first day; and we at Inside Skating will also remember the organizers’ efforts to shove Yuzuru’s gifts, stuffed animals and flowers, into the plastic bags; as we’ll remember them, Yuzuru Hanyu and Brian Orser, in the Kiss and Cry, applauding one another. In the end, a symbolic image: the coach taking a bow in front of his student – what a day this has been.