Hanyu dazzles at Skate America

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Oct 20 2012 04:33 PM | Updated as of Oct 21 2012 12:33 AM

LOS ANGELES - Japanese teenager Yuzuru Hanyu dazzled at Skate America on Friday, delivering a record-setting short programme to seize the men's lead at the first Grand Prix event of the season.

The 17-year-old earned 95.07 points for a breathtaking routine. It was the highest score ever recorded for a short programme in competition sanctioned by the International Skating Union.

Hanyu, who skated last, left the ice to thunderous cheers from the crowd.

The score improved on the previous best mark of 94.00, posted by Daisuke Takahashi at the World Team Trophy in April.

"Ninety-five is an extremely high score and I really was not expecting it," said Hanyu, who landed a quad toe loop early in the programme and a triple axel later.

"I want to say I was very surprised. But I want to compete to the final competition. I still have the free to skate.

"I want to control my emotions to the very end," he added. "This is my first Grand Prix and I don't want to get too excited."

Another Japanese, Takahiko Kozuka, was a distant second at 85.32. He was the silver medallist at the 2011 world championships and finished third last year at Skate America.

Defending US champion Jeremy Abbott was third, scoring 77.71 for a programme that included an early fall.

Tatsuki Machida was fourth on 75.78, giving Japan three of the top four places.

Pairs competition opened with Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov seizing the lead with a short programme score of 65.78 points.

Silver medallists in the past two world championships, they were also second at last year's Grand Prix final.

China's Pang Qing and Tong Jian were second at 61.96. Tong fell early in the routine, dimming the prospects for the 2010 Olympic silver medallists, who won world titles in 2006 and 2010.

Competition continues on Saturday with the men's free skate and the pairs free skate, while the ladies will get under way with their short programme and ice dance begins.

Skate America marks the start of a season that sees skaters building toward the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.

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