Yuzuru Hanyu was introduced as the Olympic gold medalist, skated over to the podium and jumped high onto it. With a perfect landing, naturally.
He also leaped into the figure skating history books Saturday, becoming the first man to repeat as Olympic champion since Dick Button in 1952.
“Just happy. I can’t say anymore, just happy,” Hanyu said through his ever-present smile. “I just did my best today. I don’t know if this is the best of my skating life, but I can say from my heart that I skated my best today.”
He held off countryman Shoma Uno and Spain’s Javier Fernandez in the free skate.
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Coach Brian Orser met Hanyu as he left the ice after his strong but slightly flawed performance. Then Orser, a two-time Olympic silver medalist who also coaches Fernandez, rushed back to behind the sideboards to help encourage the Spaniard.
Fernandez couldn’t match Hanyu.
Hanyu later congratulated Fernandez and told him he wished both of them could have won.
“I told him, ‘Yes, Yuzu, but only one can be champion. Only one can have the gold medal,’” Fernandez said.
Uno moved from third Friday to second, loading a high-scoring quad and three triples into the final minute of his routine.
“I knew which level of performance I performed,” he said. “I did what I intended to do.”
American Nathan Chen surged from a disastrous short programme, in which he finished 17th, by winning the free skate to wind up fifth. He did it with an historic routine featuring six quads.
As always, Hanyu skated to defeaning cheers from fans, with thousands of Japanese flags filling the stands. He was terrific, though not perfect, particularly messing up a combination jump.
As always, he left the ice to a swarm of cascading Winnie The Pooh dolls flooding the ice.
The 18-year-old Chen had succumbed to the pressure and massive expectations in the short programme, a day earlier . On Saturday, he was spectacular. He even did the sixth quad, a loop, getting full credit for the four rotations though he put his hands down on the ice on it.
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“I think after having such a disastrous short program and being so, so low in the ranking - lower than I usually ever am - it allowed me to completely forget the results and focus on enjoying myself out on the ice,” Chen said, “and getting rid of expectations helped a lot.”
He led all three US skaters into the top 10 as his 127.64 points for technical virtuosity put him in another stratosphere, and his 215.08 points for the free skate were a personal high.
Chen’s 17-year-old teammate Vincent Zhou, put down five quads - as if to say, “Hey buddy, I can do this, too” - in another spectacular jumping show. Zhou also soared in the standings, winding up sixth.
“It’s been such a wild ride over my short 17 years,” Zhou said. “I’ve been through so much, it would take me hours to say it all. But to skate like that, to have a successful performance means so much to me.”