Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu gave his country the lead after the men's short program in the inaugural team figure skating event. The 19-year-old hit a huge quadruple toe loop, triple Axel and triple Lutz combination in his casual but confident routine, scoring 97.98 points. Japan will need the 10 team points from Hanyu's first-place performance as its pair and ice dance teams aren't as strong.
After a year away from competition, three-time Olympic medalist Evgeni Plushenko placed an impressive second.
The 31-year-old Russian landed a clean quadruple toe loop-triple toe loop combination, triple Axel and triple Lutz before really hamming up to the home crowd. His 91.39 score was a personal best. "It felt great," Plushenko told reporters." I feel so happy."
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Reigning world champion Patrick Chan of Canada downgraded his quadruple-triple combination to a quadruple-double, and stepped out of his triple Axel. However, Chan's superb skating skills helped bolster his score of 89.71.
Reigning U.S. champion Jeremy Abbott had a disappointing start to his second Olympics. Abbott fell on his opening quadruple toe loop and later popped his Axel to a single. He looked dejected in the kiss-and-cry area. "There are times when you say you wish you could do it again. I feel that way now," the 28-year-old said afterwards. Team USA is currently in seventh place and will have to make up lots of ground.
The standings after the men's short program:
1. Yuzuru Hanyu (Japan) - 97.98
2. Evgeni Plushenko (Russia) - 91.39
3. Patrick Chan (Canada) - 89.71
4. Yan Han (China) - 85.52
5. Florent Amodio (France) - 79.93
6. Peter Liebers (Germany) - 79.61
7. Jeremy Abbott (USA) - 65.65
8. Yakov Godorozha (Ukraine) - 60.51
9. Matthew Parr (Great Britain) - 57.40
10. Paul Bonifacio Parkinson (Italy) - 53.94
The team competition continues with the pairs short program.