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Friday, Dec. 4, 2009

Hanyu third after short program; Song leads

Staff writer

Yuzuru Hanyu is in third place following the short program at the Junior Grand Prix Final in Tokyo on Thursday night, trailing China's Nan Song and American Ross Miner.

News photo
In striking distance: Yuzuru Hanyu skates during the short program at the Junior Grand Prix Final on Thursday in Tokyo. Hanyu is currently in third place. KYODO PHOTO

Hanyu, the top qualifier entering the competition, performed to the soundtrack from "Mission Impossible: II." The 14-year-old hit his opening triple axel, but doubled the back end of a planned triple lutz/triple toe loop combination jump, was downgraded on a triple flip, and finished with a score of 69.85 points.

Song, 19, skated cleanly to "The Way Old Friends Do" and landed all four of his triple jumps while exhibiting superior speed and is in first place at 71.70.

Miner, 18, stumbled on the landing of his opening triple axel and was given a mark of 70.85.

Trailing by less than two points, Hanyu is still in contention for the title against his much older opponents.

"I did everything I possibly could today," he said. "It felt close to a personal best. The triple axel was good. My jumps were good. I faltered a bit on the (combination) spin at the end. I felt this was better than my performance in Croatia (where he won in October). I am moving in the right direction."

Looking ahead to Friday's free skate, the Sendai native knows what he needs to do to earn a spot on the podium.

"I want to be able to execute everything I have been working on in practice here," he said. "I want to do my jumps and improve my spins."

China's Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao lead the pairs following the short program. The duo skated strongly to "Who Wants To Live Forever" and were awarded a score of 75.36.

World champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany are second at 73.14.

The pairs free skate is set for Saturday.

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