Hanyu leads Japan to 2nd place at World Team Trophy

TOKYO (AP) Yuzuru Hanyu won the men’s free skate Friday as Japan pulled to within four points of the United States at the World Team Trophy.

The Olympic champion, who led after the short program, opened with a quad salchow on his way to a season-best score of 192.31 points. American champion Jason Brown was second with 176.69 points, followed by Takahito Mura of Japan with 165.40.

Skating to the theme song from ”Phantom of the Opera,” Hanyu opted for a triple toeloop instead of a quad toeloop on his second element.

”It wasn’t perfect but I can see that all my hard work in practice is paying off,” Hanyu said. ”This is my last event of the season so I wanted to express my appreciation.”

Heading into the final day of competition, the United States leads the standings with 83 points. Japan has 79 points, while Russia is in third place with 77.

The women’s and pairs free skate will be contested on Saturday.

The event features the six best national teams among International Skating Union member nations. Each team is composed of eight skaters.

Canada was in fourth place followed by China and France.

World champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France won the free program with 111.06 points to claim the ice dance title. Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Canada were second with 109.79 points, followed by Evan Bates and Madison Chock of the United States with 102.24.

Sui Wenjing and Han Chong of China led after the pairs short program with 71.20 points. Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada were second with 68.68 points, ahead of Yuko Kawaguchi and Alexander Smirnov of Russia, who placed third 66.97 points.