Fernandez on track for third straight figure skating gold

Emmeline MOORE
Spain's Javier Fernandez, currently ranked first, competes in the men's short program at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Helsinki, Finland on March 30, 2017

Spain's Javier Fernandez hit two quadruple jumps to get his bid for a third straight title off the mark Thursday in style as Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu trailed at the world figure skating championships.

The 26-year-old Fernandez nailed all his elements in his short programme to the classical Spanish guitar composition Malaguena to post 109.05 points in Helsinki's Hartwall Arena.

Japanese teenager Shoma Uno surged to second place with 104.86 with veteran former three-time winner Patrick Chan of Canada third on 102.13 going into Saturday's free skating final.

All three achieved career-best scores.

Hanyu -- bidding to recapture the title he won in 2014 -- botched his second quad salchow jump, landing on his knee to Prince's "Let's Go Crazy" and is fifth on 98.39.

"There was a lot of pressure, every year there are a lot of skaters trying to get in on the party," said Fernandez.

"The fact that there was amazing skating out there gives me more confidence. I'm one of the older skaters but to be here and competitive gives me confidence for the years ahead."

Uno, 19, also landed two soaring quad jumps in his flawless skate.

"I'm still in the process of learning," said the former world junior champion.

"I was calm from beginning to end and it is great to see that my scores are getting higher and higher every time.

"Last year I was very disappointed at the worlds and it ended with tears."

- 'Past the medals' -

Fernandez captured a fifth consecutive European title in January but has had a mixed season, finishing fourth in the Grand Prix final.

The Spaniard is bidding to emulate Chan, who claimed three world titles on the bounce in 2011-2013.

Olympic silver medallist Chan, 26, opted for just one quad in his skate to The Beatles.

"I'm past the medals. I've had other medals, especially at worlds, I've won three championships. For me it is more about the accomplishments, like today," said the Canadian.

"I'm serious. I'm in third, but it feels like first because I was able to achieve a season's best over one hundred points.

"I've been waiting a long time to break 100 points. Experience is my advantage compared to the others."

Hanyu, who holds the world record 110.95 in the short programme, has had to settle for silver the past two years behind Toronto training partner Fernandez.

Despite his errors the 22-year-old got a standing ovation from the large contingent of his adoring Japanese fans with flowers and soft toys raining down onto the ice.

But the Japanese superstar slipped behind 19-year-old Chinese skater Jin Boyang (98.64) with 17-year-old American quad-jumping sensation Nathan Chen sixth (97.33) after failing on his triple axel.

"Their support gives me a lot of power," said Hanyu. "It was fun to skate with so many fans coming from Japan and from all over the world.

"In the long (programme) of course I want to skate clean but the goal is the gold medal."

The competition continues on Thursday with China's Sui Wenjing and Han Cong bidding for a first pairs gold after twice finishing runners-up.