SOCHI, Russia (AP) ― Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu made figure skating history, and now can chase even more of it.
He’ll do so without having to fend off a challenge from another record-setter, Russia’s Evgeni Plushenko.
Hanyu became the first figure skater to break the 100-point mark with a spectacular performance in the men’s short program on Thursday night at the Sochi Games. He earned 101.45 points with a playful, almost seductive routine in which he seemed to flow above the ice.
“I was so surprised with my score,” Hanyu said. “I didn’t know I got over 100.”
He shouldn’t have been, considering the speed, sharpness, entertainment value and total conviction of his skating. He nailed his two biggest jumps, including a huge a quadruple toe loop to open the program, and his triple lutz-triple toe combination was exquisite.
And then the fun began.
He charmed the judges with his facial expressions, staring directly at them with an inviting smile during his intricate steps and turns to “Parisian Walkaways.”
“For Yuzuru, that was perfection,” said his coach, Brian Orser. “That’s as good as it gets.”
Hanyu, 19, also won the men’s short program in the team event and is on quite a run with wins in the Grand Prix Final, Japanese championships and his Sochi achievements.
“I always had pressure. I think I can have confidence after those competitions,” he said.
While Hanyu was soaring to a nearly four-point lead over three-time world champion Patrick Chan of Canada, Plushenko finished his stellar career with another injury.
Big dogs get hockey wins
SOCHI, Russia (AP) ― Four of the favorites in Olympic men’s hockey started the Sochi Games with wins.
The host Russians rolled early as Alex Ovechkin had a goal and an assist in a breathtaking start of a 5-2 victory against Slovenia on Thursday.
The defending gold-medal winning Canadians shook off a slow start with a dominant second period of a 3-1 win over Norway.
Most impressively, the U.S. scored six times in the second period and routed Slovakia 7-1.
Finland beat Austria 8-4, but it came at a cost.
The Finns played the final two periods without captain Teemu Selanne because of an upper-body injury. They expect the 43-year-old forward to be healthy enough to play Norway on Friday, but he may rest to be ready to face the Canadians on Sunday in the final game of the tournament’s round-robin preliminary round.
Alex Ovechkin, perhaps the biggest star of the Olympics, scored 1:17 after the puck dropped with a wrist shot that made the crowd roar. The superstar made the flag-waving fans gasp in awe 2:37 later with a drop pass to set up Evgeni Malkin’s goal that gave Russia a 2-0 lead.
Bobsled crashes into man
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) ― Olympic officials are trying to determine why a worker on the track used for sliding sports at the Sochi Games was in the path of a speeding bobsled that crashed into him, causing leg injuries and a concussion.
A forerunning sled sent down the track to make sure conditions were suitable for two-man training crashed into the worker Thursday at the Sanki Sliding Center, an incident that could have been far worse and immediately harkened memories of the on-ice death of a Georgian luger at the Vancouver Games four years ago.
The unidentified worker broke both his legs and was airlifted to a nearby hospital where he underwent surgery and was said to be doing well, an Olympic official told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because medical information on the worker has not been released.
Sliding officials who reviewed video of the incident saw three men working near the finish line, two of them safely scurrying over the wall as the bobsled neared. The subsequent investigation quickly revolved around suspicions that the workers could not hear any announcement that a sled was coming down the track.