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Winner crowned in men's figure skating final

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 01:58 p.m. HST, Feb 14, 2014

SOCHI, Russia >> Yuzuru Hanyu made it difficult on himself before coming through to win Japan's first gold medal in Olympic men's figure skating Friday night at the Sochi Games.

Not only did Hanyu fall on his opening jump, a quad salchow, but he also crashed on his third, a triple flip. That left plenty of room for Canada's Patrick Chan to skate through to the top of the podium, but he made three errors in a watered-down program to finish second.

Canada has never won the event, either.

Kazakhstan's Denis Ten, the world silver medalist, won bronze in Sochi in a final that was a two-man showdown between Hanyu, now the first Asian man to win an Olympic title, and three-time world champion Chan.

Neither of the top two performed close to his peak on a second consecutive night of competition. Most skaters appeared fatigued, particularly at the end of their 4 1-2-minute free skate routines. It was one of the sloppiest men's Olympic programs in memory.

"I thought the gold medal was not in my hands," Hanyu said.

Michael Christiaqn martinez, the only athlete from the Philippines in the Olympics, finished in 20th place.

Chan skated directly after Hanyu with a chance to do what such renowned Canadian men as Donald Jackson, Kurt Browning, Elvis Stojko and his own coach, Brian Orser, could not. But he wasn't sharp either, and the difference at the end was pretty much Hanyu's nearly 4-point margin carried over from Thursday's short program.

"I had that chance and it slipped out of my hands," Chan said.

When the 19-year-old Hanyu finished, kneeling, he laid two hands on the ice for a long time, thinking he had blown it.

"I was so nervous and I was so tired," he said. "But I was surprised (to win). I was not happy with my program."

Orser told him not to fret, that the competition wasn't over. And when Chan came up short, as nearly every man did in the free skate, the gold was headed to Japan.

Asked if he thought he would win, Hanyu shook his head.

"No, I was so sad," he said.

But he was thrilled when the final results were posted, and he skated around the rink draped in a Japanese flag after the flower ceremony. Around the Iceberg rink were about two dozen banners supporting him and the Japanese team.

"I visualized this evening as one great skate after another," said Orser, who coached Yuna Kim to the women's gold in Vancouver. "It kind of didn't happen. It was one of those things. Nobody got the momentum going."

Ten, coached by Frank Carroll, who helped Evan Lysacek win the 2010 gold medal, surged from ninth to third with a busy free skate that include three spot-on combination jumps. It is Kazakhstan's first Olympic figure skating medal.

"This medal is my gift to my country," said Ten, 20. "I hope this is not the highest achievement of my life."

American Jason Brown, 19, of Highland Park, Ill., fell from sixth to ninth, earning no points for a triple loop at the end of his program because of a previous false takeoff that was counted as a jump.

"I went out there and just performed and where I ended up is where I ended up," Brown said, "but I'm so proud to be in that top 10."

Four-time U.S. champion Jeremy Abbott, of Aspen, Colo., rallied from 15th to 12th place.

Javier Fernandez, seeking Spain's first Olympic figure skating medal, struggled and fell from third to fourth. He repeated a triple salchow without putting it in a combination, costing him precious points.

Japan's Daisuke Takahashi, the 2010 bronze medalist and among the most popular skaters in the event -- there were Dice-K signs throughout his rooting section -- had a flawed if gorgeously choreographed program to a Beatles medley. He finished sixth, one spot behind countryman Tatsuki Machida.

That gave Japan half of the top six finishers, spectacular for a nation that until 2010 never stepped on the men's podium.

Not on the ice, of course, was Russian star Evgeni Plushenko. He dropped out before the short program on Thursday night with a back injury.


AP Sports Writer Rachel Cohen and freelancer Marie Millikan contributed to this story.

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mineeyes wrote:
This must be a transgender event.
on February 14,2014 | 02:08PM
bsbsbs wrote:
I was thinking the same thing.
on February 14,2014 | 02:56PM
Mei mei wrote:
u guys are terrible!
on February 14,2014 | 03:10PM
inverse wrote:
The 31 year Russian favorite who looks like Steve Perry of the old Journey group had to withdraw from competition because of back problems was married, had children, and far from being so 'fancy' like the eventual winners. However you cannot deny their athletic ability like jumping over the ice and spinning three or four times in the air before landing. This is the first year ice skating had a team competition first and that probably caused the men's skating competition to be sloppy due to fatigue or like the Russian skater injured. Every Olympics is different and just this year the winners of the men's ice skating competition were incredibly fancy and feminine, not that there is anything wrong with that.
on February 15,2014 | 04:50AM
localguy wrote:
Sad how those who lack the talent and abilities to even think of competing in the Olympics criticize others who have earned the title of "Olympian." Some people truly are Legends in their own mind, usually products of the Nei's failing education system.
on February 15,2014 | 06:15AM
BlueDolphin53 wrote:
Seriously, the way things are headed, you wonder how long it will be before there are multiple event categories, not just men and women. I believe Facebook just updated their site to include literally dozens of sexual identity categories to choose from in identifying oneself.
on February 14,2014 | 03:08PM
st1d wrote:
i thought someone got married at the olympics.
on February 14,2014 | 03:52PM
retire wrote:
Queens on ice, nice!
on February 15,2014 | 05:15AM
localguy wrote:
Infinite diversity, infinite combinations, it's a new world.
on February 15,2014 | 06:16AM
inverse wrote:
Thats what makes competitive ice skating so interesting it is NOT the guy who takes the most steroids wins. One year it could be some thirty something year old guy who is a Steve Perry lookalike that wins, another year it is a skinny, very feminine very young guy from Japan that can do some quadruple aerial spin moves on the ice. And you have to admit some of the clothes these male skaters wore in competition was pretty over the top and highly doubt the olympic judges would penalize the skaters for not having enough ruffles, lace, see through mesh and cleavage which is what the top 3 male skaters and most of the rest had in abundance.
on February 15,2014 | 08:54AM