The night was to belong to Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu here at the 2016 World Championships. With a a 12-point lead heading into the free skate, it seemed nobody could catch him.
But Javier Fernández did just that.
Spain’s most prized figure skater crafted a program for the ages — one equally balanced in technical elements and program components, and found himself unexpectedly atop the podium for a second time. “It was not an easy day, it was not an easy month, a couple of injuries, I couldn’t do practice yesterday or today,” Fernandez explained. “I went to the medical room today and they helped me so much that now I can have my skate on and I can actually skate. I knew that to have a chance to beat (Hanyu) I needed to do the best program of my life — a clean program. To go to do the competition, to have this in your brain knowing you have so many problems before, is something not easy to do.”
Despite the injury to his heel — caused by his boot rubbing — Fernández was able to skate without mistake. He executed three quadruple jumps, and amassed 26 perfect scores in the program component marks. His “Guys and Dolls” program was handcrafted to draw the audience in with his natural flirty charm, and he worked it to the max. “It was the last program of the season, I didn’t think about how important it was for me to win or anything, just kept going from jump to jump,” he said. “Before skating, I knew that I had a chance to win, but that I have to do a clean program, and I did.
In the end, Fernández outscored Hanyu by more than 30 points in the free, and earned a career-high 314.93 points overall.
Hanyu struggled with his “Seimi” program from the start. The normally sure-footed dynamo opened with a shaky landing on his first quadruple attempt, a Salchow. It appeared as if Hanyu was rushing most of his jump take offs throughout the program, but he was able to correct himself in the air before landing in most cases. Not so with a second quadruple Salchow attempt — the silver medalist crashed to the ice, much to the shock of the packed audience. “I think that I was very calm before the free skate, but it’s not only this calmness that affects a performance,” Hanyu explained. “Of course, there is my physical condition and my mental condition, and I think that the balance between these two is very important. I do not think that I was able to achieve this balance today, and I felt that as I skated. I was nervous throughout my performance.”
Obviously disappointed, Hanyu was happy to join in celebration of Fernandez’s victory. “I can’t explain my feelings. I really am a little regretful about my long (program),” he said. “I am really sad, and I am really happy for Javier’s program. I know I am happy, but I am really sorry for my long. I want to do it again.” Hanyu finished with 295.17 points overall.
Boyang Jin made history by capturing the bronze medal — the first Chinese man to do so at a World Championships. He finished with 270.99 points. “I feel very excited to be the first man to win a bronze medal for China,” he said with a big smile. “For me, the meaning of it is really huge. It made my goal clearer for next season. FI definitely want to train harder, do a better performance, and get a better result.”
Though he has plenty of room to grow as a performer, Jin is the most technically ambitious skater in the world. The Four Continents silver medalist attempted four quadruples in his “Dragon Racing” program, and stood up on all four. Jin also earned bonus points by placing five jumping passes in the second half of the program, including two of the quads, a triple-triple combination and a triple Axel.
“As for today’s result, I think I really need to learn a lot from the champion and the second place,” Jin said. “I have learned a lot from them in the competitions with them, and I still think I can learn much more from them in the future.”
Russia’s Mikhail Kolyada finished just off the podium in fourth place, showing great promise in his first trip to these Championships. The Russian national silver medalist did not put a foot wrong in this competition — every element he attempted earned positive grades of execution. Kolyada finished the competition with a career best 267.97 points. “I felt good at the beginning of my program and at the end I felt even better,” he said. “It helped me to skate first in the group. I don’t like to wait and to get nervous.”
Former World champion Patrick Chan struggled throughout his Chopin program, finishing eighth in the free skate and fifth overall. The Canadian looked a bit off throughout the performance, and never really caught fire. He earned 266.75 points. “My skate was not good. That’s pretty obvious,” Chan explained. “It could be a lot better. I am just not happy with the conditions I am being in, skating last after two groups of men, the ice just wasn’t to my desire. I don’t think anyone really understands that it’s because of how I skate. The skating just didn’t feel good.”
American champion Adam Rippon moved up to sixth after a strong performance set to a Beatles medley. Japan’s Shomo Uno, fourth after the short program, took a hard fall in the middle of his “Turandot” program and fell to seventh overall. Max Aaron finished in eighth.