Japan’s Hanyu, 19, locks up Olympic gold; Canada’s Chan silver

 


Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan competes in the men’s free skate. (Bernat Armangue/Associated Press)

SOCHI, Russia — Though two skaters have yet to compete, Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu will defeat Canada’s Patrick Chan for figure skating gold at the Sochi Olympics.

In doing so, the 19-year-old Hanyu earned the first Olympic gold medal in men’s figure skating for his country.

Chan was attempting the same for Canada, but the three-time world champion had far too many errors when presented a golden opportunity. He’ll likely take silver, with the bronze still in play.

Hanyu, 19, and Chan, 23, are the top-ranked men’s skaters in the world just now. And with four-time Olympian and Russian sporting icon Evgeni Plushenko withdrawing from the competition, Hanyu and Chan were the focus of Friday’s free skate, which brought the competition to a close.

Hanyu fell on his opening quad salchow and stumbled out of a triple flip. He earned 178.64, which put him in the lead with 280.09  points.

Hanyu’s missteps created an opening for Chan, who was nearly four points in arrears when he took the ice.

Chan delivered his difficult opening combination, a quad toe-triple toe, beautifully. Then came the errors: a hand down on the quad toe that followed and a step-out on another jump. But his skating remained fluid, and his interpretive skills elegant. Judges gave him higher artistic marks, but lower technical scores, ensuring Hanyu’s victory.

Up next: Peter Liebers of Germany; and 19-year-old Jason Brown of the United States, making his Olympic debut.

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