TURIN, Italy - Japan's double Olympic gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu was unable to overcome a red-hot Nathan Chen at the ISU Grand Prix Final on Saturday despite an impressive free skate performance.
With the competition falling on Hanyu's 25th birthday, American world champion Chen spoiled the party by winning a thrilling free skate showdown that saw the rivals each land five quad jumps at Torino Palavela.
(Nathan Chen of the United States)
Holding a big lead following the short program, Chen broke his own free skate and total world records, respectively, with scores of 224.92 and 335.30.
Hanyu had to settle for second, finishing 43.87 points back on 291.43, while France's Kevin Aymoz was third on 275.63.
"It wasn't an ideal performance, but I did what I could. I was glad to jump from a quad Lutz into a clean (quadruple) loop," said Hanyu, adding he was "very frustrated" to finish without the title.
"You just have to do your best and finish with a smile," he said.
(Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan)
Starting the segment trailing Chen by 12.95 points, Hanyu's routine also included a quadruple toe loop-double toe loop combination.
While his segment score of 194.00 was well short of his personal best of 212.99, it was enough for a big overall lead with only Chen left to skate.
But the 20-year-old American -- who claimed his second straight world championship in Saitama in March -- continued a superb run of form to maintain his edge over the Japanese skater many consider the greatest of all time.
Picking up the gauntlet thrown down by Hanyu, he answered with a stellar routine including a quad flip and two quad toe loops, one in combination, on his way to a third Grand Prix Final title.