Spanish figure skater Javier Fernández showed the world on Friday that he is back in top form at the most important moment in his career: his third and last attempt to stand on the Olympic podium.
The 26-year-old from Madrid skated an impeccable short program, coming in second with 107.58 points behind Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu (111.68), the defending Olympic champion and Fernández’s training partner in Toronto.
Fernández delivered another brilliant performance of his Chaplin routine
The winner will be decided on Saturday with the free skate program. But the other Spanish representative at the Pyeongchang Games, the Colombia-born Felipe Montoya, will not be there after coming in next-to-last in the short program.
Fernández, a two-time world champion and six-time winner of the European championships, beat out his direct rival Nathan Chen, a US skater who performs five quadruple jumps in the free skate program, compared with Fernández’s three and Hanyu’s four. In the short program, Chen buckled under pressure and missed all his jumps, falling to 17th position.
But there are other young skaters hot on Fernández’s trail, and whose long programs are more difficult than the Spaniard’s. Japan’s Shoma Uno, 20, scored 104.7 in the short program while China’s Jin Boyang, 20, came in fourth with 103.32. This means that four skaters have a lot of options to earn one of the three spots on the podium.
Fernández delivered another brilliant performance of his Chaplin routine, nailing his two quads – one of which was combined with a triple toe loop, a fact that greatly boosted his technical score (59.79). His presentation also impressed the judges, although he trailed slightly behind Hanyu.
Hanyu, 23, had been sidelined by a foot injury he sustained in November as he performed a quadruple jump, and it was unclear how he would perform on Friday. But following his short program, four judges out of nine gave him a perfect 10.
English version by Susana Urra.