Sochi, Russian Federation (4E Sports) – Japanese Yuzuru Hanyu captured the gold medal in the men’s figure skating event of the Sochi Winter Olympics despite errors in the free program.
The 19-year-old Hanyu put himself as the gold medal favorite after winning the team short program and smashing the individual short program world record.
However, he fell twice in the free program — once on his opening quadruple salchow and again on a more straightforward triple flip – for a total score of 280.09 points.
World champion Patrick Chan failed to capitalize on Hanyu’s mistake as he had an equally shaky skate that forced him to settle for silver with 275.62.
“I was trying not to think about winning a gold medal, but I couldn’t deflect the pressure, which was massive,” Hanyu said.
“I’m so proud of this feat as a Japanese. The Olympics is so wild and unpredictable. I’ve never been this nervous for a competition in my entire life. I’m upset with the performance I had, but I left everything I had out there,” he added.
Kazakhstan’s Denis Ten bagged the bronze medal after scoring 255.10 for the 20-year-old’s first major international gold.
Earlier, the he event was overshadowed by the controversial pre-competition withdrawal of Russian star Evgeny Plushenko, who aggravated a back injury in the warm-up and promptly announced his retirement.
Plushenko’s dramatic withdrawal sparked a national debate raging on why he was allowed to go to Sochi in the first place.
Just hours before Friday’s free program President Vladimir Putin was drawn into it, defending Plushenko and pointing out the 31-year-old played a big part in helping Russia win gold in the team event earlier in the Games.