Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan competes in the men's free skate figure skating final at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 14, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan competes in the men's free skate figure skating final at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 14, 2014, in Sochi, Russia
Yuzuru Hanyu won Japan's first gold in men's figure skating, but not with a performance that he wanted.
The 19-year-old took hard falls on two jumps. Despite the falls (and mandatory deductions), he still had the highest technical score of the night due to the high quality of his other elements. That, combined with his record-setting short program, put him in first.
His rival Patrick Chan skated immediately after, but didn't step up to the opportunity. And while he didn't fall, Chan made multiple mistakes on the landings of several jumps, which kept him in second place. Like his countrymen Brian Orser, Kurt Browning and Elvis Stojko, Chan fell victim to the "Canadian Curse" – where the Olympic favorite falters.
[Related: The ugly side of figure skating revealed]
With much of the field succumbing to the pressure of Olympic ice, Denis Ten of Kazakhstan turned in the cleanest skate of the night to jump from ninth to third. His bronze is the first figure skating medal for his country.
American Jason Brown, who was in sixth after the short, had a chance to medal with a clean skate. Like Chan, he made many little errors and dropped all the way to ninth place. The other U.S. skater, Jeremy Abbott, redeemed himself after the short program with a clean skate. He pulled up to 12th overall with one of the few clean skates of the night.
With error-filled skates taking gold and silver, one can't help but wonder where Evgeni Plushenko would have placed. The Russian – who won individual gold in Torino and team gold in Sochi – withdrew after the short program due to injury.
[Related: Jeremy Abbott responds to "choker" claims]
The ice dance event kicks off Sunday with the short dance. Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White are favored for the gold.
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