Figure skating: Nathan Chen scrapes to gold at Grand Prix Finals

Dec. 8 (UPI) — Nathan Chen took gold at Friday’s Grand Prix Finals in a narrow figure-skating victory over Japan’s Shoma Uno. Despite many of the world’s top men missing from the competition, including Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, it was still a tight contest.

Chen, known for his extensive quad arsenal, skated a clean short program on Thursday, but only held a narrow lead with less than two points over Uno. Despite some small missteps, Chen had performed well enough to break the 100-point mark, practically a requirement to win the finals in the men’s field.

The free skate was a much different story.

Chen landed his first combination with flying colors, a quadruple lutz and triple toe loop. His next element, a quadruple flip, wavered, but Chen held on. His third element seemed to be where the program unhinged, popping a planned quadruple salchow into only a double. In a later combination, he popped another planned salchow, a triple, into a double. Chen fought through his program, despite a later fall, and finished with 183.19 points, a score far below the skater’s standard.

The mistakes turned the competition into a nail biter, with the door wide open for Uno to take the lead while the rest of the field battled for bronze. Uno had a few big mistakes in his program as well, but pulled ahead of Chen in the free skate with 184.5 points, another low score for him.

When the total scores were calculated, Chen took gold by half a point. Uno took silver and Russian newcomer to the finals Mikhail Kolyada won bronze.

The Grand Prix Finals continue through Saturday in Nagoya, Japan.

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