Yuzuru Hanyu wants to show his own style at Skate Canada
Double Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu says he is a different type of skater to Nathan Chen - and wants to use that to his advantage.
Speaking at Skate Canada, his opening ISU figure skating Grand Prix of the season, Hanyu said he has stopped trying to "rush" his progress and is concentrating on his own strengths.
The 24-year-old Japanese skater says he watched the performances of Chen, who beat him to gold at the World Championships in Saitama earlier this year, from the opening Grand Prix in Las Vegas last weekend, where the American was a comfortable winner.
I really should be myself and show my own performance. - Yuzuru Hanyu
"I was closely watching Nathan's performance at the first Grand Prix," Hanyu told media after morning practice in Kelowna, British Colombia.
"I feel like I have been fighting against the image of strong Nathan who beat me at the World Championships. It's like I've been fighting against the illusion of Nathan's image.
"Before I had been really rushing myself, thinking I have to incorporate the quad Lutz, to make the structure quickly. But I've settled down a little more.
"When I watched Nathan's performance, I thought to myself that he is a different type of skater from me and I really should be myself and show my own performance. I believe I have other weapons that he doesn't have. So I want to make the best of them."
Hanyu enjoyed a solid opening practice at Skate Canada, performing a clean run-through of his short program.
The Japanese skater landed a quadruple Salchow, a triple Axel and a quadruple toe loop, triple toe loop combination in his practice run-through on Thursday morning.
The short program layout is unchanged from the one that helped Hanyu win the Autumn Classic International last month in Oakville, outside Toronto.
In the free skate run-through in the afternoon session, the 24-year-old put a hand down on his opening jump, a quadruple loop, but completed the remainder of the program without issues.
Hanyu then concentrated on the loop during the rest of the session and was able to land it cleanly.
Hanyu says his priorities are reaching the Grand Prix Final, which he missed last year due to an ankle injury, and Japanese Nationals in December.
"My wish now is that I want to make it to the final through the Grand Prix series," he added.
"After the final, I have the National Championships. I'm looking back at myself with regrets from the last couple of years. So I really want to be down to earth and perform well by thinking what is a risk and what is best for me."
Coach Brian Orser says the signs look positive ahead of competition on Friday.
"I think the practice speaks for itself," Orser told the Olympic Channel after the morning session. "He had a very good practice.
"Always the first practice [you're] trying to get a feel for the size and the texture of the ice, the flow, how the room feels.
"In my opinion, it looked like he had a good practice. I have a good feeling, so..."
There’s no dramas, there’s no injuries. I just want it to play out. Everybody is ready. - Brian Orser
Another of Orser's skaters, Evgenia Medvedeva, is a podium hopeful on the women's side, and the Canadian says both athletes are in good shape.
"Both athletes are really well trained, so it’s just letting it all play out," he added. "There’s no dramas, there’s no injuries. I just want it to play out. Everybody is ready."
Jumping coach Ghislain Briand has said Hanyu plans to stick to the quad jumps that saw him win the early-season title in Oakville, and won't be attempting the notoriously difficult quadruple Lutz or never-seen-in-competition quadruple Axel in Kelowna, according to Japanese agency Kyodo News.
Hanyu is expected in practice again on Friday morning ahead of competition the same day.
Tanaka in practice
Keiji Tanaka, also of Japan, featured in Thursday's practice session despite being involved in a car crash in Kelowna on Tuesday, according to reports in Japanese media.
Tanaka was reportedly travelling in a taxi with Marin Honda from the women's team, when they were involved in a minor crash. Neither suffered serious injury.
Strong ladies field
Russian teen Alexandra Trusova, making her senior Grand Prix debut in Kelowna, is planning an astonishing four quadruple jumps in her free skate.
The 15-year-old landed three of them during her run-through in the second practice session on Thursday, only putting her hands down on the quad Lutz.
Trusova is part of what promises to be a fiercely-contested ladies field in Canada, with Olympic silver medallist Medvedeva and reigning Grand Prix Final champion Rika Kihira also contenders for the podium.
Kihira's trademark triple Axel looked solid during the opening women's practice with the 17-year-old landing it multiple times throughout the session.
That included during her short program run-through, where she had no problem with the triple Axel or triple flip, triple toe loop combination but made a mistake on her triple loop.
Speaking after the first practice, Kihira said of her triple Axel jumps: "They are improving and fitting with this rink. So I'm pretty satisfied with my jumps even though this is my first time here."
In the free skate run-through, Kihira popped the opening triple Axel, which is planned in combination with a double toe, but landed the second and added the combination.
The Japanese skater has been training the quadruple Salchow but added that she doesn't expect to include it in her programs in Kelowna.
Former rink-mates Medvedeva and Trusova both put down clean run-throughs of their short programs, with Medvedeva landing her planned program layout of a triple flip, triple toe combination, double Axel and triple Lutz.
Trusova landed a double Axel, triple flip and triple Lutz, triple loop combination which prompted applause from her compatriot.
Medvedeva then went on to skate another clean run-through in the afternoon session to conclude a successful practice day for the Russian.
Competition at Skate Canada runs from Friday 25th to Saturday 26th of October and you can follow it all right here on Olympic Channel and across social media @OlympicChannel.
Skate Canada Event Schedule
(All times local - UTC-7)
Friday October 25th
11:00 ICE DANCE - Rhythm Dance
12:38 LADIES – Short Program
16:15 PAIRS – Short Program
17:42 MEN – Short Program
Saturday October 26th
11:09 ICE DANCE – Free Dance
13:00 LADIES – Free Skating
16:55 PAIRS – Free Skating
18:32 MEN – Free Skating