BOSTON, April 2 — Javier Fernandez needed a little luck to keep his world figure skating crown out of the hands of Japan’s 2014 Olympic and world champion Yuzuru Hanyu, and he got it.
Yesterday at the World Figure Skating Championships, the stars aligned for the Spaniard who sailed through his Guys and Dolls routine with nary a wobble, knocking off three picture-perfect quadruple jumps — a toe-loop and two salchows, one in combination with a triple toe.
Fittingly, at one point in his choreography with Sinatra singing Luck be a Lady Tonight, Fernandez blew on imaginary dice for good luck. It worked.
The crowd at Boston’s TD Garden roared its approval as Fernandez was awarded 216.44 for his free skate, the second best score of all time, and 314.93 in total.
Fernandez said, “I told myself, 'I have a chance to win and I have to do a clean programme' and I did.
“It was not an easy day, not an easy month with a couple of injuries. I couldn't do practice yesterday or early practice today. I went to the medical room today and they helped me so much so that I can have my skate on and actually skate,” said Fernandez, revealing that a sore swollen heel had threatened to derail his title defence here.
“I knew I had a chance to do the best programme of my life but it was not easy to do. I got my mind really set and I just wanted to do it,” he said.
Meanwhile Hanyu benefited from the 12-point cushion he earned in the short programme and the bad luck that befell his archrival Patrick Chan to hang on for the silver medal after an error-strewn free-skate put his medal hopes in jeopardy.
Hanyu executed a nice quad toe-loop but struggled with both quad salchows, falling on the second.
He earned just 184.61 for his finale set to the soundtrack of the Japanese film Seimei. That score was 34 points short of his own record.
The Japanese tallied 295.17 in all, well short of his monster score of 330. 43 at the Grand Prix Final last December.
“I'm disappointed. I want to do it over,” Hanyu said.
“I can’t explain my feelings. I'm really tired but I'm really happy for Javi's programme,” he said, with a nod towards his Toronto training mate.
“To skate a good programme, I need to balance my body and my mental (approach) and I was probably not able to that too well today.”
The bronze medal went to China’s jumping phenom Jin Boyang but he, too, struggled with some jump landings including on his trademark opening quad lutz.
Still, he stayed upright on four quadruple jumps and two triple Axels to collect 181.13 for his free skate, 270.99 overall.
It was the first men's world championships medal for China and an admirable senior world debut for the young man who won the world junior silver medal last season.
“I am pretty satisfied with my performance today. I skated a little tight at the beginning but after the first jump, I adjusted my mind a bit and did well in the rest of the jumps,” Jin said.
Canada's three-time world champ Chan struggled to keep his footing on landing his jumps while planned triples turned to doubles.
Those costly errors dropped him out of the medals and into fifth place with 266.75 overall.
Earlier yesterday, Chinese Sui Wenjing and Han Cong were the surprise leaders over the defending world champions and the reigning Olympic champs in the pairs opener.
World silver medallists last year, Sui and Han scored 80.85 for their Flamenco-styled programme which featured a high-flying lift and throw jump amid lightening quick footwork.
“We both feel very happy that we have done a perfect programme,” Han said.
Canada's defending titleholders Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford put 78.18 points on the board with their best skate of the season to sit second.
Russia's returning 2014 Olympic gold medallists and 2013 world champions, Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov skated into third spot with 77.13 points.
In their bid for the title, Han announced that he and Sui will attempt both a quad throw jump and quad twist lift in today’s final round, making their free skate programme the most technically difficult one planned. — AFP