2-time Olympic champ Hanyu spectacular at Japanese nationals

Dec 23, 2021, 8:17 PM | Updated: Dec 24, 2021, 10:20 am
Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan performs during men's short program competition of Japan Figure Skating Champ...

Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan performs during men's short program competition of Japan Figure Skating Championships at Saitama Super Arena, in Saitama, north of Tokyo, Friday, Dec. 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Two-time and reigning Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu returned from a long injury layoff to land two quadruple jumps and score a world-leading 111.31 points in his short program at the Japanese championships on Friday.

The 27-year-old Hanyu, who has been out for eight months with an ankle injury, punched the air with his fist after finishing his clean program in Saitama, Japan. He landed a quad salchow, a quad toe-triple toe combination and a triple axel to post a score nearly five points ahead of American Nathan Chen’s score at Skate Canada.

Hanyu and Chen are expected to go toe-to-toe for Olympic gold at the Beijing Games in February.

“Everything went exactly as I’d planned it over six days of practice,” Hanyu told Kyodo News.

The Japanese championships and Russian championships are running through the weekend, and with the U.S. nationals in early January, they should give figure skating fans a glimpse of who to watch at the Winter Games.

Hanyu, who intends to try to land the first quad axel in competition in his free skate Sunday, leads reigning Olympic silver medalist Shoma Uno by nearly 10 points. Umo, the winner at the NHK Trophy, landed a quad flip and quad toe-double toe combo along with a triple axel during his short program Friday.

Yuma Kagiyama is expected to join Hanyu and Uno on Japan’s team for Beijing. He was in third after his short program.

If the Japanese championships are showcasing Olympic favorites in the men’s competition, the championships in Russia are doing the same for the women, who could become the first nation to sweep the podium.

Kamila Valieva, the heavy favorite to win gold, landed four triple jumps during her packed short program to score 90.38 points. Along with a triple axel and triple flip, Valieva landed a triple lutz-triple toe combination to top her own world-leading short program score of 87.42 set during her record-setting Rostelecom Cup victory.

Sofia Muravieva scored 81.87 points and was in second place heading into the free skate. Anna Shcherbakova was right behind her with 81.46 points. Podium favorite Elizaveta Tuktamysheva fell on a triple axel during her program and never got back on track, leaving her with ground to make up after a score of 71.28 points.

Russian skaters also are expected to medal in pairs in Beijing. The team of Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov lead at their nationals with 83.74 points after the short program. They’re followed by Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii with 82.84 points and Olympic favorites Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov with 78.68.

___

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Atlanta Braves's Ronald Acuna Jr. celebrates after scoring on an RBI single by Michael Harris II du...
Associated Press

Acuña delivers late, Braves outlast Phillies 8-7 in 11

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Ronald Acuña singled home the go-ahead run in the 11th inning and the Atlanta Braves stayed close in the NL East race, outlasting the Philadelphia Phillies 8-7 Sunday in a game that took over six hours to complete because of a two-hour rain delay. The Braves split the four-game series and remained […]
17 hours ago
Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers hugs Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Tom Brady after an NFL football game Su...
Associated Press

Rodgers throws for 2 TDs, Packers hold off Brady, Bucs 14-12

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers threw for 255 yards and two touchdowns, and the Green Bay Packers withstood a late rally led by Tom Brady to hold off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a 14-12 victory on Sunday. Rodgers tossed TD passes of 5 yards to Romeo Doubs and 6 yards to Allen Lazard […]
17 hours ago
New York Mets designated hitter Pete Alonso (20) reacts after a home run in the fourth inning of a ...
Associated Press

Alonso, Scherzer lead Mets over A’s 13-4, hold division lead

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Pete Alonso homered, doubled and drove in five runs, Max Scherzer pitched six sharp innings and the New York Mets routed the Oakland Athletics 13-4 Sunday to hold their NL East lead. The Mets remained 1 1/2 games ahead of Atlanta. New York has won eight of 10, and plays the […]
17 hours ago
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Drake London, center, scores a touchdown during the second half of an...
Associated Press

Cordarrelle Patterson rumbles Falcons past Seahawks 27-23

SEATTLE (AP) — Cordarrelle Patterson rushed for a career-high 141 yards and one touchdown, Marcus Mariota threw a 14-yard TD to rookie Drake London in the second half, and the Atlanta Falcons picked up their first win of the season in beating the Seattle Seahawks 27-23 on Sunday. Patterson rumbled for 107 yards in the […]
17 hours ago
From left to right, Los Angeles Dodgers' Joey Gallo, Cody Bellinger and Mookie Betts celebrate a wi...
Associated Press

Grove helps Dodgers beat Cardinals 4-1 to clinch top NL seed

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Will Smith had two hits and Michael Grove pitched five solid innings to pick up his first career victory as the Los Angeles Dodgers clinched the No. 1 overall seed in the National League with 4-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday. Two days after reaching 700 home runs, […]
17 hours ago
Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey (5) breaks up a pass intended for Arizona Cardinals tight ...
Associated Press

Rams continue dominance of Cardinals with 20-12 victory

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Matthew Stafford threw for 249 yards, Cam Akers and Cooper Kupp both scored touchdowns and the Los Angeles Rams used a stellar defensive effort to beat the Arizona Cardinals 20-12 on Sunday. The Rams (2-1) continued their dominance in the series of NFC West rivals, winning 11 of the past 12 […]
17 hours ago
2-time Olympic champ Hanyu spectacular at Japanese nationals