- POSTED: 07 Feb 2014 02:12
Teenager Yuzuru Hanyu upstaged Yevgeny Plushenko in front of the veteran Russian star's adoring fans to put Japan in pole position in the inaugural figure skating team competition at the Winter Olympics on Thursday.
SOCHI, Russia: Teenager Yuzuru Hanyu upstaged Yevgeny Plushenko in front of the veteran Russian star's adoring fans to put Japan in pole position in the inaugural figure skating team competition at the Winter Olympics on Thursday.
Hanyu, 19, gave an electric performance to "Parisian Walkways" by Gary Moore in the men's short programme after 31-year-old Plushenko earlier gave a strong skate in his comeback to frenzied chants of "Zhenya" (his nickname) and "Russia".
But three-time world champion Patrick Chan, a favourite for the men's gold, struggled to third for Canada after a botched landing on a triple axel jump in his skate to Rachmaninov's "Elegie" in E Flat Minor.
"Plushenko to me is a hero and it felt great just to take to the same ice as him. I gave it everything I had today," said Hanyu, who opened with a quad toeloop and also hit a triple axel and triple lutz-triple toeloop combination.
Earlier Plushenko rolled back the years as he opened with a quad-triple toeloop combination, followed by a triple axel and a triple lutz in his skate to "Tango de Roxanne" from the "Moulin Rouge" soundtrack.
"It's very hard to come back especially for the Olympics," admitted the 2006 Olympic champion and two-time silver medallist, controversially selected for the Russian team ahead of younger rivals.
"It's hard to compete at home, but sometimes it helps. When I came on the ice, there, there and there, everywhere everybody was screaming and shouting. I was a bit shocked," he admitted.
"The competition is just starting. Thursday for me is good."
"I've already been at an Olympics and after 12 surgeries on my body that I can skate in a fourth Olympics is great," he added.
Hanyu scored 97.98 points, not far off the world record he holds, with Plushenko achieving a personal best 91.39, marginally higher than his previous best 91.30 achieved in 2010.
Chan, 23, scored early ten points below his personal best with 87.71.
"It wasn't the best, obviously," said Chan. "All of the jumps weren't great but, in a way, I'm glad I did that here. It was good to get the jitters out."
Chan will not however compete in the men's free skate final of the team event with teammate Kevin Reynolds representing Canada on Sunday.
Japan, who won the world team trophy in 2012, are top with 10 points. Russia have nine points and Canada are a further point behind in the 10-team event.
But the United States, world team trophy winners in 2009 and 2013, are seventh after Jeremy Abbott fell during his error-strewn performance to "Lilies of the Valley" by Jun Miyake.
"I'm torn about it," said a tearful Abbott, who took to the ice after Plushenko.
"I could feel the pulse in the audience and I could hear the silence in my head. I've had my Olympic disaster and I can move on."
The event continues on Thursday with the team pairs in which Russia are favourites as they are competing with world pairs champions Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov.