By Emmeline Moore ,AFP
BARCELONA, Spain — Japan’s Olympic figure skating champion Yuzuru Hanyu scored to new heights, posting another world record score in the short program at the ISU Grand Prix Final on Thursday. Fresh from his record scores at the NHK Trophy, Hanyu achieved 110.95 points in the short program to better his 106.33 from Nagano two weeks ago which had eclipsed his own previous high of 101.45 set at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Hanyu also set a new record in the free skating and overall total in Nagano where he became the first skater to break the mythical 300-point mark with 322.40 points. “I was surprised too,” admitted Hanyu, after an exquisite performance to Chopin’s Ballade No. 1 which included two perfectly executed quadruple jumps and a triple axel. He applauded his own performance as the music died away to give way to cheers from the large contingent of Japanese fans in Barcelona’s International Convention Centre.
The 21-year-old leads world champion and training partner Javier Fernandez of Spain (91.52) going into Saturday’s free skating final with China’s Jin Boyang a distant third (86.95). A victory on Saturday would see Hanyu become the first man to win three consecutive men’s Grand Prix Final titles in the event which marks its 20th anniversary this season. “Wow,” was all coach Brian Orser could say rinkside before joining his other skater Fernandez, who took to the ice after Hanyu’s heroics. “Skating after Yuzuru is always hard because of the fans,” said Fernandez, who finished second behind Hanyu in Barcelona last year. “Then I saw the world record and I said to myself ‘it doesn’t matter what I do I’m not going to better better than that.’ “It’s already hard and the first thing I did on the ice was fall,” added the Spaniard of his tumble in the warm-up.