Much like the junior ladies earlier in the day, the senior men came out full-force tonight. The most exciting thing about seeing all of these top men deliver? Look at the final point totals. Worlds could be a really exciting, unpredictable battle between a handful of guys, not just the top two!
Daisuke Takahashi led after the short program but fell on an opening quadruple toe loop, turned out of his first triple Axel, and put his hand down on a second triple Axel in a rough start to the program. He still managed a quadruple toe-triple toe and four other clean triples in the latter half and scored 90.22 points in components, giving him 177.11 points in the segment and the title by over five points.
Yuzuru Hanyu doubled a planned quadruple Salchow but was otherwise clean in his Notre Dame de Paris free skate, which included a quadruple toe loop, two triple Axels, and two triple Lutzes. While this program has yet to really blow me away, he scored 177.12 in the segment. I am still not understanding how the judges consistently mark Hanyu ahead of teammate Kozuka on skating skills, and I felt that his interpretation mark was a bit high for his somewhat reserved and flat performance today.
World Champion Patrick Chan found himself in second after the short program. He had a disappointing free skate, falling on a quadruple toe, stepping out of a triple Axel, and then completing a fourth combination or sequence at the end of the program, a double Axel-double toe loop, which voided the combination. He had forgotten that since neither of his quadruple toe loop attempts were in combination, he used up a block on one of them (a la Nobunari Oda at pretty much every event of his life). While his components reflected that he is the best in the world, I thought the 8.96 for performance and execution was high and that his short program was more deserving of the 9's in choreography and interpretation. I'd have them just below. He scored 169.39 in the free skate and just barely held on to a podium position overall, finishing .04 ahead of Javier Fernandez.
Javier Fernandez of Spain sat in fifth place following the short program. Skating to a Chaplin-theme today, he showed that he is a serious force to be reckoned with a the top of the podium by landing three quadruple jumps-- two Salchows (one in combination with a triple toe) and a toe loop. He also had a triple Axel and triple flip-triple Salchow sequence later in the program. His only slight mistakes were a turn-out on a double toe at the end of another combination and a doubled loop. Fernandez was able to score 178.43 in the free skate, and just imagine if he adds a second triple Axel to all of that other content! He won the segment, by the way.
Takahiko Kozuka produced a seasons-best score with his Rondo Capriccioso free skate, but he fell on an under-rotated quadruple toe attempt early in the program and also had trouble on his first triple Axel. He was still able to manage a clean quadruple toe, a triple Axel three-jump combination, and five other triples to score 166.88. His components score of 82.30 is much more on the level that it should always be, although judges tend to mark him way down for some absurd reason.
Tatsuki Machida had a poor showing at his first Grand Prix Final after a great regular season. He failed to reach 200 points total, but should still be in the hunt for one of the three World Championship spots at the ever-competitive Japanese Nationals later this month.