The 2019 Skate Canada International show belonged to just one man. Yuzuru Hanyu once again showed the world why he is the two-time and reigning Olympic champion, laying down two dazzling performances in Kelowna that put him far and away from the rest of the field.
Hanyu claimed top spot in the short program with a score of 109.60, putting a 20-point margin between himself and the runner-up, Camden Pulkinen of the U.S. (89.05). Canada’s Nam Nguyen skated into third with 84.08 points.
“It was not so great, but I felt I did my best today,” Hanyu said. “I felt calm today, but I am not sure if my calmness led to me being more focused.”
Pulkinen surprised everyone — including himself — by placing second in the short with a score of 89.05, a personal best. “This is my senior Grand Prix debut, so I think I surprised myself by scoring 89 points. I never really knew I could do that until I actually did it. I was just happy that I could hold together a complete program, hold my spins and nail my jumps,” said the 19-year-old.
Everything fell into place today for Nguyen. “The crowd was great; the energy was insane. The program overall felt great. It was a big step up from Nebelhorn Trophy, but there is a lot more work that needs to be done.”
Hanyu came out firing in the free skate, ultimately moving so far ahead of his rivals he was untouchable. His score of 212.99 for the free gave him a total of 322.59 — and a 59.85-point margin over Nguyen who finished second. It took an army of flower retrievers to collect the Pooh bears that rained down from the rafters following Hanyu’s performance.
“In this competition I was able to win within myself. I skated well in the short and free program, which I didn’t manage before. I put a lot of pressure on myself before this competition because I wanted to exceed 300 points and I wanted to win Skate Canada,” said Hanyu who had placed second at his three previous appearances. “I want to be smoother in every jump, every step, every element and I want to impress more.”
Nguyen, 21, was on top of his game in the free, earning a personal best score of 178.69, and with 262.77 points in total, he claimed silver. It was the second Grand Prix medal of his career after capturing bronze at Skate America five years earlier. “It was a great experience overall. To be able to put out that kind of performance after Yuzu’s God-like performance is a big step up in my career. I hope to continue the momentum,” Nguyen said.
Japan’s Keiji Tanaka rose from fifth after the short to capture the bronze medal with 250.02 points in total. “Compared to the short program the free skate was good,” he said. “I was able to switch my mindset. However, my jumps were not perfect. I didn’t do the quad toe so there is room for improvement.”
Pulkinen finished fourth with 244.78 points ahead of Latvia’s Deniss Vasiljevs (227.40 points) and Matteo Rizzo of Italy (223.78).
The next competition for Yuzuru Hanyu is NHK Trophy at the end of November.
INTERNATIONAUX DE FRANCE