Wenjing Sui and Cong Han captured gold in the pairs competition, while Nathan Chen jumped out to a big lead in the men's event on the second day of the 2019 ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Saitama, Japan.
The pairs skating drew to a close Thursday with the free skating portion, while the men got started with the short program. Here are the top performers in each event, followed by a brief recap of the day's action.
Gold: Wenjing Sui, Cong Han (234.84)
Silver: Evgenia Tarasova, Vladimir Morozov (228.47)
Bronze: Natalia Zabiiako, Alexander Enbert (217.98)
1st: Nathan Chen (107.40)
2nd: Jason Brown (96.81)
3rd: Yuzuru Hanyu (94.87)
4th: Vincent Zhou (94.17)
5th: Matteo Rizzo (93.37)
Following the short program, Sui and Han trailed the Russian team of Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov by just under two points. Tarasova and Morozov paced the field with 81.21, and Sui and Han were right behind at 79.24.
Sui and Han delivered a brilliant routine, particularly in the latter half of their performance. They earned 76.84 points as part of their total program component, and 40.69 of those points came over their last five elements.
An axel lasso lift alone earned then 10.10 points from the judges, and a reverse lasso lift netted 10.00 points. No other pairs team had an element of 10-plus points—let alone two.
Chen still has plenty of work to do in the men's event, but he's sitting pretty in the standings after the short program. He has 107.40 points, with Jason Brown a distant second (96.81 points). The United States has a shot of sweeping the podium as Vincent Zhou is in fourth place with 94.17 points.
The 19-year-old American started off with a bang, landing a triple axel and immediately going to a quad lutz. Those two elements alone accounted for 24.87 points. Chen's coup de grace was a quad toe loop and triple toe loop that received a score of 17.38.
Yuzuru Hanyu won gold in each of the last two Winter Olympics and was the first-place finisher in the 2017 World Championships, the last year in which he competed.
The 24-year-old Japanese star fell short of expectations Thursday, though. His score of 94.87 has him in third place, nearly 13 points behind Chen.
"I'm very disappointed with my short program," he said, per OlympicChannel.com. "I made a very big mistake so I aim to reflect on that and figure out what I can do better for my free skate. I will look at everything I can do to improve upon my performance."
Hanyu may still be dealing with the effects of the ankle injury he suffered last November. He had planned to open his routine with a quad salchow but changed it to a double salchow. As a result, he received no score for the element.
While Hanyu might have set his sights on gold coming into the 2019 World Championships, his priority should be avoiding a non-podium finish for the first time since 2013.