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Hanyu, Asada give Japan smashing first day at Final

USA's Wagner pleased with performance, lands third in ladies short
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In breaking the short program world scoring record for the third time in his career, Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu nearly became the first skater to eclipse the century mark in that segment. His total of 99.84 has him in first place by more than 12 points. -Getty Images

The 2013 Grand Prix Final opened Thursday in Fukuoka, Japan, with the men's and ladies short programs, respectively.

Hanyu sets record score in men's short triumph

Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan earned a commanding lead in the men's short program, setting a new record score of 99.84 points on the way. Canada's Patrick Chan came second, followed by Nobunari Oda of Japan.

Hanyu's routine to "Parisian Walkways" featured a quadruple toe loop, a triple Axel and triple Lutz-triple toe. Two spins and the footwork earned Level 4's.

"First of all, I am totally surprised about the score I got," Hanyu said. "For my performance, I think I did a good performance starting with the quad and also my Axel and Lutz were good as well. However, for the steps and spins, towards the end of my performance, I think I lacked a little bit of concentration so that is the part I regret.

"Today, what I felt is that I wanted to put all my effort into my jumps, spins and steps. I was able to enjoy my performance today."

Skating to an "Elegy" by Sergei Rachmaninoff, Chan nailed the quad-triple toe combination but stumbled badly on his triple Axel and then did just a double Lutz. He scored 87.47 points.

"I am not super happy with how I skated," Chan said. "When you achieve close to perfection like I did in Paris (at Trophée Eric Bompard), to do it again is hard. It hurts even more when you don't do it, so I am upset.

"Tomorrow is a new day, where the long program is where it's won, so we will see," the three-time reigning world champion added.

Oda fell on his opening quad toe but recovered to land a triple Axel and triple Lutz-triple toe. He earned 80.94 points.

"I was nervous, and I fell on my first jump (quad toe), and after that I felt like I woke up," Oda said. "I wanted to skate well in front of the Japanese audience, and the more I thought of that, it made me nervous. I cannot take back what I fell on, so I hope to land it in my free skate."

Han Yan of China sits fourth with 77.75 points.

Maxim Kovtun of Russia finished fifth with 68.92 points and Japan's Tatsuki Machida wound up in sixth place with 65.66 points.

Asada jumps ahead in ladies short

Mao Asada of Japan claimed the ladies short program, with Adelina Sotnikova of Russia finishing second and American Ashley Wagner comin in third.

Asada's program to a Nocturne by Chopin included a triple flip, triple loop-double loop combination and two Level 4 spins, but her triple Axel was under-rotated. The two-time world champion picked up 72.36 points.

"I was very happy about the triple Axel," Asada said. "This was the first time I was able to land it that well this season. During practice I landed about 50 to 70 percent, but in the competition I just focused on landing one and I think that really went well.

"Because I have one day off, I will focus on resting tomorrow, and I plan to do two triple Axels in the long program," the reigning world bronze medalist added.

Skating to "Habanera" from Carmen, Sotnikova produced a triple toe-triple toe combination, a triple flip, double Axel and Level 4 spins and footwork to post a new personal-best score of 68.38 points.

"I am very happy with how I skated," Sotnikova said. "It was the best I've skated this season so far. We have very strong girls. Four strong girls are here; they are all very strong and they all can do triple-triples. They all potentially could be in the top three.

"At the moment, I am higher than they are, and I try not to relax to skate as well as in the long program to stay in that place among the Russians," the European silver medalist added.

Wagner completed a triple flip-triple toe, a triple loop and three Level 4 spins in her routine set to "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" by Pink Floyd. The U.S. champion earned 68.14 points.

"It was awesome," Wagner said. "I am so happy with the performance. The flip-toe felt great, the spins felt really great. I feel really good. I wish the score had been higher; we'll see what happens in the protocol, but so far so good."

Wagner benefited from her experience at the 2012 Grand Prix Final last year, when she finished second.

"Last year, I made the Grand Prix Final into this huge event that was very intimidating, when in reality it's a bonus to be here and it's an opportunity to practice competing," she said. "This year, I'm taking a more laid-back approach and trying to get the experience of competition."

As for her competition, Wagner was impressed by the number of quality young skaters from Russia who made the Final.

"It says a lot for Russian skating to have four of the ladies here," Wagner said. "That's incredible. To have so many Russian skaters here, you can feel them breathing down your neck and pushing you. They have youth on their side. It makes you have to push yourself as an 'older' skater." 

Julia Lipnitskaia, one of those Russians, came in fourth with 66.62 points, followed by teammates Elena Radionova (64.38 points) and Anna Pogorilaya (59.81 points).

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