Advantage Hanyu as rival Chen falls at world championship

Stockholm (AFP) –


Japan's two-time Olympic gold medallist Yuzuru Hanyu capitalised on a fall by defending champion Nathan Chen to snatch the lead after the short programme of the world figure skating championship on Thursday.

Hanyu, who is competing for the first time in more than a year after opting to train alone during the Covid-19 pandemic, scored 106.98 points, skating to Robbie Williams' "Let Me Entertain You".

Double world champion Chen fell to the ice attempting his opening quadruple jump and scored 98.85 points.

That was good enough only for third place with Japanese 17-year-old Yuma Kagiyama taking his chance to split the two giants of the sport.

He scored a personal best of 100.96 points after a smooth and fluid short programme.

The free programme takes place on Saturday with Hanyu well-placed to join Chen as a three-time world champion, a year out from the Beijing Winter Olympics.

"Mentally I'm much more confident and I think that I can work on my programme step by step," said Hanyu who completed a quad Salchow, a quad toe-triple toe and triple Axel.

"I hope that I touched everyone with my programme and left an impression everyone will keep in their hearts."

American star Chen, skating to "Desperado" in an all-Spanish themed performance, recovered after his fall to land a triple Axel and a quad flip-triple.

"I made a big mistake right off the bat, which is, I wouldn't say unconventional, but something that doesn't normally happen to me," said the 21-year-old.

Meanwhile, Russia's Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov won the pairs title on their world championships debut.

With a total of 227.59 points, Mishina, just 19, and 21-year-old Galliamov, defeated two-time champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong of China who scored 225.71.

Russia's Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii, with 217.63 points, were third.

"We're really surprised to finish first," said Mishina whose celebrations will be muted.

"We're going to go to sleep," she said.