With six more figure-skaters yet to compete in the men’s short program at the Sochi Games, the crowd at the Iceberg Skating Palace has thinned dramatically after Evgeni Plushenko’s stunning withdrawal earlier seconds before he was to perform.
Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu holds a commanding lead after a brilliant showing, earning a season-high 101.45 points. Given the skaters left to compete, it’s impossible to believe anyone will top Hanyu’s marks and unlikely any will scramble the standings among the top five, for that matter.
Three-time and defending world champion Patrick Chan of Canada had the best chance of overtaking Hanyu, who won the short program in figure skating’s inaugural team event last week.
After Chan opened beautifully, nailing his opening quad toe-triple toe combination, he stepped out on his triple axel. It was a rare mistake for the elegant, experienced skater who has devoted the past four years to delivering Canada’s first Olympic gold in men’s figure skating. Still, his marks, 97.52, were close to his season’s best score, even though his performance was not. And it puts him solidly in second — more than 10 points ahead of Spain’s Javier Fernandez (86.98), who is third.
American Jason Brown, 19, who is making his Olympic debut, stands fourth (86.00). And two-time Olympian Jeremy Abbott, who crashed hard on his opening jump sequence and lay motionless for several seconds before resuming his program, is ninth.
The top 24 skaters will advance to Friday’s free skate, which will determine the medals.