Hanyu delivers historic performance

SOCHI, Russia -- Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu not only skated, he stayed on his feet. Beautifully so. Historically so.

On a chaotic night at the men's short program in which Evgeni Plushenko withdrew just before his routine and Jeremy Abbott fell on his face and into the boards, Hanyu set a record with the highest score ever in a men's short program, breaking the century mark for the first time with 101.45 points.

"I'm over the moon,'' Hanyu said. "I took it one element at a time. ... I wasn't trying to clear 100 points. I was just trying to turn in the best performance I possibly could -- and I did.''

World champion Patrick Chan of Canada is in second place with 97.52 and Spain's Javier Fernandez is third with 86.98.

"I like being in second. I like being in the chase,'' said Chan, who was a little wobbly on a triple axel. "It's exciting for me. Now I can go out and enjoy the program, whereas Yuzuru has a bit of a target on his back that he's not quite used to. At the Olympics the target is kind of doubled in size. We'll see how he handles it.''

Hanyu has handled the pressure so far. He opened with a quad toe and later landed a triple lutz-triple toe combination to take the short program for the second time here. He also won it in the team competition last week. Which isn't bad for a 19-year-old.

"He's grown tremendously,'' Chan said. "I remember when I saw him at Cup of Russia two seasons ago. He was young and very inexperienced. He's gained so much experience in just two years. He looks really comfortable out there.

"But like I said, tomorrow is the long program and the long program can change a lot of things. Neither of us has done it in front of these judges, only in practice. Tomorrow is proof of who is really trained and comfortable with his program.''

Abbott, the U.S. national champion, finished 15th due to his horrible fall on his opening quad, but 19-year-old American Jason Brown was on top of his game. Despite not having a quad in his routine, he is in sixth place with 86 points, just 0.98 points out of third. He was gushing with enthusiasm as usual afterward.

"The quad is usually a point getter, of course,'' he said. "Because I don't do one I have to do everything else well and get as many points as possible with the elements I do."

Despite Hanyu's performance, the night was overshadowed by Plushenko's withdrawal from what he said is his final amateur competition.

"I don't know all the details, but I was disappointed not to see him in first place when I took the ice,'' Hanyu said. "I took up skating because of him. I respect him and admire him dearly. It's just sad. I'm really glad I had the opportunity to skate against him in the team event.''