Figure skating: Hanyu rocks to Marseille lead

Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu gave a rock star performance to lead after the men’s short programme on the opening day of the ISU Grand Prix of figure skating final in Marseille on Thursday.
Japanese star Hanyu — the three-time defending Grand Prix final champion — was impressive in style and execution with an error-free routine to Prince’s Let’s Go Crazy.
Hanyu opened with a quadruple jump followed by a quadruple-triple, soaring to 106.53 points — just four points short of the world record score he achieved a year ago.
“I have never connected to an audience like this since I was born, or since I started skating, but this programme feels like a concert, like it’s live. I want to be their rock star,” said Hanyu.
The 21-year-old leads Canada’s Patrick Chan going into Saturday’s free programme final in the elite six-skater field with Hanyu’s training partner, reigning two-time world champion Javier Fernandez of Spain, trailing in third.
Chan, 25, also nailed all his elements in his short programme to Dear Prudence and Black Bird by the Beatles.
The Olympic silver medallist and former three-time world champion achieved 99.76 points with Fernandez a further eight adrift after falling during his Flamenco routine.
“I just did my job, stay calm and stay relaxed,” said Chan.
“The quad toe didn?t feel perfect on the take-off and I had to fight for the landing of the triple toe but I didn?t panic and was able to keep my rhythm.”
Fernandez knows he will have to pull out a great performance on Saturday if he wants to finally turn his two silver medals to gold.
“You can’t always do a perfect job and today was not a good day. I have to find the mistakes and do a great programme the day after tomorrow.”
Japan’s Shoma Uno (86.82) is sitting fourth after a fall on his quad, just ahead of Americans Nathan Chen (85.30) and Adam Rippon (83.93).
In pairs, favourites Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada are sitting third after the two-time world champions fell on a throw triple axel during their short programme to Killer by Seal.
“It wasn?t the way I wanted to have my birthday go,” said Duhamel who turned 31 on Thursday as they earned 71.44 points — seven points behind Russian leaders Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov (78.60).
Radford added: “It’s a high risk programme and there’s not a high reward.”
The Russians skated to a musical mixture of Glam Electro Swing, to lead Chinese newcomers Yu Xiaoyu and Zhang Hao(75.34).
“We haven?t been skating together for a long time, so we still need to gel as a team,” said Zhang.
The elite competition continues on Friday with the pairs free programme final, as Evgenia Medvedeva opens her women’s title defence in a field that includes four Russians.
In ice dancing Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, the 2010 Olympic champions, returning after two seasons off, open their bid for the only title missing from their collection.
World champion ice dancers Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron will be carrying French hopes.

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Baba Ghafla