NAGANO, Japan - Two-time defending Olympic men's champion Yuzuru Hanyu delivered a dramatic and nearly flawless free skate on Saturday to win his first Japan national championship in five years.
Hanyu, who led after Friday's short program at Nagano's Big Hat arena by 4.93 points over NHK Trophy winner Yuma Kagiyama, wowed the crowd with a stirring performance that netted him 215.83 for a 319.36 total. It was Hanyu's first national title since he won four straight from 2012 to 2015.
Four-time defending champion Shoma Uno, third after the short program, delivered in a free skate that also included four quad jumps and earned him a 190.59 score which lifted him to second.
"There were instances yesterday when I was a little tight, and it was good I got through that yesterday. That allowed me to execute tonight," Hanyu said.
"I really love to compete, and when I start competing, I feel I have to win and that brings some hardship."
Hanyu, who suffers from asthma and skipped this year's Grand Prix of Figure Skating due to the added concern of coronavirus infection, said he hopes his performance gives people the will to fight.
"There are so many things that we need to fight against in the world right now. I hope people out there take heart from this, find something inside themselves that will help them fight on."
"I really want peace to return to the world."
In ice dancing, longtime men's figure skating icon Daisuke Takahashi finished second with partner Kana Muramoto in the rhythm dance with 67.83 points behind two-time defending champions Misato and Takeru Komatsubara, who scored 71.74.
Takahashi, who is new to ice dancing this season, and Muramoto marked a 3.68-point improvement over their competitive debut as a couple at this month's NHK Trophy. They did so despite Murakami needing to take painkillers after the two had a mishap in practice five hours earlier.