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Hanyu wins Grand Prix skating gold in dominant style

The Associated Press

Yuzuru Hanyu reacts after his performance during the men’s free skating at the ISU Helsinki Grand Prix event in Helsinki on Sunday.

The Associated Press HELSINKI (AP) — Olympic figure skating champion Yuzuru Hanyu started his Grand Prix season with a commanding victory by almost 40 points at the Helsinki round on Sunday.

With a 13-point lead from Saturday’s short program, the skater scored 190.43 points in the free skate to win with a total score of 297.12.

Hanyu executed four quadruple jumps including a quad toeloop-triple axel combination, though with some less-than-perfect landings, to an ecstatic reception from the crowd. Flowers and stuffed toys cascaded onto the ice after his skate.

Hanyu’s short program, free skate and total scores are the highest in the Grand Prix series so far this year.

Experienced Czech skater Michal Brezina was second with a 257.98-point total for his second Grand Prix silver of 2018.

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  • The Associated Press

    Hanyu performs his routine.

  • The Associated Press

    Hanyu, center, poses for a selfie with silver medalist Michal Brezina, left, of Czech Republic, and bronze medalist Cha Junhwan of South Korea during the victory ceremony.

That will almost certainly be enough for Brezina to qualify for the Grand Prix Final for the first time in seven years, depending on the results of later Grand Prix events.

South Korea’s Cha Junhwan earned a second bronze this year with 243.19, continuing a breakout season for the 17-year-old South Korean, who placed 15th on home ice at the Olympics in February, one place ahead of Brezina.

Russia swept the gold medals in the other three events in Helsinki on Saturday when Olympic champion Alina Zagitova lead the way with gold in the women’s event. Natalia Zabiiako and Alexander Enbert won in pairs, while Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin took the ice dance title.

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