by Klaus Reinhold Kany
(1 April 2017) The short program of the 36 men was a highlight of the championships and a quad festival. Seven skaters tried two quads and 11 tried at least one quad jump.
Javier Fernandez, the 2015 and 2016 World Champion from Spain, took the lead with 109.05 points, which are a new personal best for him. For his outstanding combination of quad toe loop and triple toe loop, he got eight GOEs of +3 and this element alone brought him 17.46 points. The quad Salchow and the triple Axel were as outstanding and had again eight GOEs of +3 each. Everything else was at least good as well. He interpreted the Paso Doble "Malaguena“ in an entertaining way and his components were around 9.7, with 11 times a perfect 10.0 from six different judges.
"I did what I had to do, there was a little mistake in one of the spins, but I still got level 4 for it,“ he commented. "I am in a good shape for this season. So I hope to continue like this for the long program and for the whole upcoming season. I do believe in the consecutive third gold and will fight for it, but there are so many talented skaters now. They will try to jump on top of my score and take my title. I am really happy to earn such a score, the best one in my career, I also felt the force of the crowd here in Helsinki, and got a very good connection. I am promoting Spanish culture via my skating, so this is especially important for me. If they enjoy my programs, it means I am doing my job well.“
Shoma Uno from Japan sits on second position, earning 104.86 points. He had a more difficult jump than Fernandez, beginning with a good quad flip. Then he hit a good combination of quad toe loop and triple toe loop. His triple axel was excellent, but some observers do not like that he lands all his jumps very deep in his knee. The four other elements had a level 4. He skated to "Ladies in Lavender“ by Nigel Hess and had components of around 9.1, with some 9.5 as highest ones.
He said: “In earlier competitions I have had issues with jet lag so I flew to Finland a week before the competition. So now I had no jet lag problems. Today, from the beginning to the end I was very calm and I am happy to be able to make a new personal best and it is great to see that my scores are getting higher and higher every time. We do actually get a lot of support from Japanese fans at every competition. I am very grateful they came such a long way to support us. I started to practice the quad flip right after worlds last year. I had been quite depressed after bad Worlds last and I got back to my regular routine of practicing. I wanted to change my mood because I wasn’t happy and try something new. I was able to land it within one same session. Then I was able to go to Team Challenge Cup and I could manage to land it there.“
Patrick Chan from Canada is currently third. For the first time in his career he had more than 100 points in an international competition, gaining 102.13 points He began with a stellar combination of quad toe loop and triple toe loop, followed by a good triple Axel and a triple Lutz. He skated to a Beatles medley and had components with an average of 9.6, with five 10.0 from three different judges.
In the press conference he said: "I was trying to stick to my plans. I mean I am sitting here with two guys who have two quads in their short, and I did only one. My whole goal was trying to challenge myself and to stay in my own world and to remind myself I know that I belong to that group of men and not get too discouraged. One different thing with Marina (Zueva) and Oleg (Epstein), my new coaching team, is that we tried to be smart, and I am a little bit older now. I got to have a little more breaks. I know when to work hard I have to rest the body. At this point of my career I have to think more about longevity.“
Boyang Jin from China finished on fourth place with 98.64 points, which was the highest number of points ever. He also had two quad jumps in his program, in his case an excellent combination of quad Lutz and triple toe loop as well as a quad toe loop out of steps. His other elements were good as well and his components in his program to the "Spiderman“ theme around 8.2.
Olympic Champion Yuzuru Hanyu sits only fifth, earning 98.39 points. After a late start which cost him one point he began with an excellent quad loop, but landed his quad Salchow on his knee. Therefore his double toe loop did not count as part of a combination any more and all nine judges gave him GOEs of -3. The other elements were excellent and the components around 9.5, with two 10.0 as highest ones. He said: "I was just happy to skate today. Maybe all the jumps were not so great. But I enjoyed skating so much. It was fun to skate with so many fans coming from Japan and from all over the world and it gives me a lot of power. In the long of course I want to skate clean. Of course the goal is the gold medal, but for this I have to stay focused.“
Nathan Chen of California is currently sixth with 97.33 points. His combination of quad Lutz and triple toe loop was good, the quad flip as well, but then he fell on the triple Axel. Everything else was clean and his components around 8.6. He commented: "I'm happy I got the first two jumps, but I'm not very happy with my performance. Everything was a little low energy. For the Axel, I stepped a little bit too far to the right and when I got the rotation and landed on the ice everything was too far off my axis and I couldn't control it.“ The two Russian skaters Mikhail Kolyada and Maxim Kovtun sit on seventh and tenth position. Jason Brown is currently eighth and the best skater without a quad in his program. Alle his seven elements were excellent, his highlight was the camel combination spins which got GOEs of +3 from all nine judges. "I feel great! I put my heart and soul out into that performance,“ he said.