Olympic and world champion Yuzuru Hanyu defends Grand Prix Final title
BARCELONA, Spain -- Olympic and world champion Yuzuru Hanyu successfully defended his Grand Prix Final title after extending his lead on Saturday with a masterful free skate performance worth a personal best score.
Hanyu barely qualified for the final with a fourth-place finish at the NHK Trophy following a scary on-ice collision with another skater during warm-ups at the Cup of China last month.
But the Japanese 20-year-old produced a second commanding performance in as many days to the sounds of the "Phantom of the Opera," to keep the title he won last year at home.
Hanyu said he was still not recovered from his accident, even if it was hard to tell.
"I am not perfect today, not yet, but I did it!" he said. "I only had (two) weeks since NHK to be able to accomplish this thanks to my team."
Hanyu nailed his two opening quadruple jumps and he eased through the other elements until falling on his final triple lutz. But it didn't matter, as he earned a shower of teddy bears and 194.08 points for a winning total of 288.16.
Spaniard Javier Fernandez climbed from fifth place into second with a total of 253.90 to thrill his fans at the packed International Convention Center.
Sergei Voronov of Russia was third with 244.53.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva of Russia also protected her lead to win the women's final, while Canadian skaters did likewise to claim gold in both pair and ice dance.
The 17-year-old Tuktamysheva, who broke her foot in March, breezed through her free skate to finish with a personal best 136.06 points for a total of 203.58.
"When I was injured I understood I could not give up skating," Tuktamysheva said through a translator. "I have this fighting spirit."
Right behind Tuktamysheva in second was 15-year-old countrywoman Elena Radionova with 198.74.
American Ashley Wagner rebounded from her shaky short program with a score of 129.26 to repeat her third-place finish from last year's final with 189.50 points.
European champion and Olympic team gold medalist Julia Lipnitskaia of Russia continued to struggle, falling twice to finish fifth of the six finalists.
Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford won in pairs, while Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje won in ice dance. Both couples also followed up their leading short programs with free skates that marked personal bests.
Duhamel and Radford performed a routine to a medley by rock band Muse, and cruised to victory by seven points. Olympic and world silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov of Russia were second, followed by Wenjing Sui and Cong Han of China.
Weaver and Poje won ice dance comfortably after their free dance to Vivaldi's "Four Seasons." Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates remained in second, while France's Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron moved up into third.