By Gabrielle Tetrault-Farber
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Nathan Chen of the United States won the first grand prix event of the season in Moscow on Saturday, while Russia’s Evgenia Medvedeva took first place in the women’s event despite a fall.
Chen, 18, doubled a triple lutz and did not stick to his announced free program but still managed to score 193.25 points to win the event with an overall score of 293.75 points.
Chen said he was pleased with his quads in the first half of his free program but admitted fatigue had caught up to him and triggered mistakes.
“But this is my first grand prix win and I’m excited for the rest of the season,” Chen said.
Moscow’s grand prix event is the first of six to qualify for the Grand Prix Final in Japan in December, which comes two months before the start of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu, the defending Olympic champion, landed three quads but missed a combination jump, tripled a quad loop and doubled a quad toeloop to finish second overall, around three points behind Chen.
“I’m a little bit satisfied with my performance,” Hanyu said.
“I didn’t rotate my loop and I couldn’t do my combination. That was the three-point difference.”
Hanyu had finished second behind Chen in the short program on Friday, earning 94.85 points after making a shaky landing on the quad loop jump at the start of his performance.
Chen was nearly six points ahead of Hanyu in the short program, recording 100.54 points in a performance that included a dazzling quad lutz and triple toe loop combination.
Russia’s Mikhail Kolyada finished third in the grand prix event with a total score of 271.06 points.
In the women’s event, Medvedeva was on her way to complete a near-perfect program until she fell on a double axel toward the end of her performance.
The 17-year-old Russian simply laughed off her tumble and won the competition with a score of 231.21, more than 15 points ahead of the second-place finisher, Italy’s Carolina Kostner.
“I think it’s a useful mistake, I will learn from it,” Medvedeva said. “I was satisfied with my performance. I worked well today.”
Japan’s Wakaba Higuchi secured third place with 207.17 points.
Russian pairs swept the top three places in their event, with Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov finishing first with 224.25 points.
Tarasova and Morozov, the bronze medalists at this year’s world championships, finished nearly 20 points ahead of second-place finishers Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov.
Kristina Astakhova and Alexei Rogonov finished third.
American brother and sister duo Maia and Alex Shibutani, who earned bronze at this year’s world championships, won the ice dance with a total score of 189.24 points, finishing 4.50 points ahead of Russia’s Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Soloviev.
“It was exciting to debut our two new programs at this competition,” Maia Shibutani said. “We are very proud of the work we’ve put in.”
(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber, editing by Ed Osmond and Christian Radnedge)