SAITAMA, Japan — Tatsuki Machida of Japan upstaged compatriot and Olympic gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu on Wednesday to finish first in the short program at the World Figure Skating Championships.
Machida, who was fifth at last month’s Sochi Games, hit all his jumps and scored a career-high 98.21 points to finish ahead of Javier Fernandez of Spain, who had 96.42 points.
Skating to music from the movie "East of Eden," Machida electrified the capacity crowd of 18,000 at Saitama Super Arena with a near-flawless routine that opened with a quad toeloop, triple toeloop combination. The 24-year-old Machida also included a triple axel and a triple lutz in his routine.
"I got motivated when I saw Hanyu win the gold in Sochi," Machida said. "I think this is the best chance I’ll have to get a medal and will do my best in the free skate. I was able to get a lot of positive energy from the crowd tonight."
Hanyu, who is looking to add a world title to the gold he won in Sochi, fell on the opening quad toeloop and finished with 91.24 points for third place.
"Needless to say the toeloop wasn’t good," Hanyu said. "But how I jumped wasn’t that bad so I am going to adjust for the free program."
Fernandez, who was fourth in Sochi, impressed the judges with a dynamic routine and got high marks for a triple lutz, triple toeloop combination.
"One skater did better than me but I am still happy with my performance," Fernandez said. "Sometimes it’s hard to get motivated right after the Olympics by my coaches told me to work hard and I can see that hard works pays off."
Tomas Verner of the Czech Republic was fourth, followed by Han Yan of China. Jeremy Abbott and Max Aaron of the United States finished eighth and ninth, respectively.
Three-time world champion Patrick Chan of Canada is skipping the championships. The men’s event concludes with the free skate on Friday.
In the pairs event, four-time world champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany were first after the short program.
Skating to music from the movie `’Pink Panther," the Germans were solid in all their elements, although all the top couples did not make any major mistakes.
Two-time Olympic bronze medalists Savchenko and Szolkowy received 79.02 points to finish ahead of world bronze medalists Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada, who had 77.01 points.
Olympic silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov of Russia were third with 76.15 points.
The pairs event concludes Thursday with the free skate. The women’s short program is also scheduled for Thursday.