Kazakhstan’s Denis Ten, and Sochi bronze medallist, delivered a powerful, yet sublimely beautiful and masterful performance in which he landed a flawless quad toe-loop, triple axel and triple/triple combination to lead the field with a stunning 97.61 points.
That score will send shivers down the back of Olympic Champion Yuzuru Hanyu, who is the only major name missing from this Four Continents Championship and also the European skaters, who will have to find something special in the upcoming World Championships next month.
Japan’s 17-year-old sensation Shoma Uno was also impressive with a clean program, including a quad toe and scoring 88.90. Currently in 3rd is China’s Han Yan on 87.34 who fumbled his quad landing.
The only other two quad jumps landed in one of the hottest fields assembled for this Championship were from Daisuke Murakami (JPN) and Australia’s Brendan Kerry who ended in 16th place with 63.23 points after failing to take off for the required jump combination. The mistake cost him about 10 points and a result in the top ten.
"I was really happy with the quad, and the triple axel,” Brendan said after the event. “The combo was a fluke mistake, but overall I was pleased with the skate and particularly the performance score (PCS). Because I am well trained for this event, I was able to skate tonight, have fun, and enjoy the performance."
Coach Justin Dillon, who works with head coach Tammy Gambill and Brendan in Los Angeles says that a top 12 finish is not out of the question.
"Doing the quad in the short was a huge accomplishment. This is his first quad in an ISU championship event and I am sure he is happy with this achievement,” said Justin.
“Tammy has been training Brendan really well this season and that has showed here in Korea. Brendan has been strong in every practice. Except for the trip tonight he had a great short program. I am looking forward to Brendan performing a good free program in the final on Saturday night and continuing to show his progress."
OWIA Figure Skating Coordinator, Belinda Noonan said the event was world class and that Brendan was now in the mix.
“It is such a hot field. There is no room for mistakes and any error that is made sees the technical score tumble south at a fast pace,” Noonan explained.
“Missing the triple lutz combo hurt Brendan’s score and place going into the free program but he is on the up, more confident and nailed that quad and triple axel.”
“Brendan is definitely more comfortable in the big events. That showed. His performance value and expression has lifted a few notches, and likewise so did the components score,” Noonan said. “It is very tight from 10th place and the free program will be a pressure cooker.”
The US number one and two men failed to deliver their jumps and paid dearly. US Champion Jason Brown was attempting a quad toe jump for the first time, but it was clearly under-rotated and two-footed. US silver medallist Adam Rippon was also in nightmare valley with under-rotations called for his quad and triple combo.
Team-mate Joshua Farris, who didn’t attempt a quad, skated clean and finds himself sitting in 5th place running into the free program.
Australia’s other men’s entrant Andrew Dodds scored 46.91 and will not advance to the final.
The Ladies event short program starts tonight with Australian Champion Kailani Craine and Sochi Olympian Brooklee Han among the 19 competitors.
Photo: OWIA athlete and Australian Figure Champion, Brendan Kerry in Seoul with coach Justin Dillon.