NAGOYA, Japan (Reuters) - Nathan Chen of the United States overcame an error-filled programme including a fall to win the men’s Grand Prix Final on Friday, beating hometown favourite Shoma Uno by half a point as Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond led the women’s event.
While the Grand Prix Final is often seen as a rehearsal for the Olympics, which take place in February, this year’s competition was marked by the absence of prominent skaters including Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu and Canada’s Patrick Chan, the Sochi silver medallist.
But Chen and Uno battled down to the wire, with Chen taking 183.19 in the free skate for a total of 286.51 to Uno’s 286.05.
“I‘m extremely honoured to be Grand Prix champion,” Chen said after an ambitious routine to “Mao’s Last Dancer” that included attempts to make at least five quadruple jumps.
“Last year I didn’t even think I would make it to the Grand Prix.”
Uno, who won the free skate with 184.50, fell on his first quad loop and pulled a face at the end of his routine. Russian Mikhail Kolyada finished third.
“I am not regretting what I have done so far,” Uno said. “At the Grand Prix Final, I wanted to show my best.”
All three skaters said the competition was not the same without Hanyu, who withdrew due to injury, and Chan, who decided to take more time to practice after a disappointing result at Skate Canada. Also absent were China’s Boyang Jin and Spain’s Javier Fernandez.
”I think it definitely did feel a little bit different, with the lack of Yuzu, Patrick, Javi and Boyang,“ Chen said. ”But I think it’s cool that other guys got the opportunity to come to the final, as well as having the opportunity to compete against a different variety of top level skaters.
“At the end of the day, you’re going to be the only one on the ice, so whoever’s there competitive-wise, you’re still going to have to do what you have to do.”
Earlier, Osmond took a surprise lead in the short programme in the women’s final but was less that half a point ahead of Russian teenager Alina Zagitova.
Osmond hit a seasonal best with 77.04 after her sultry, sassy routine to “Sous le Ciel de Paris” that had the audience at the packed arena in the central Japanese city of Nagoya clapping along.
“Overall, I‘m really happy,” the 22-year-old Osmond told a news conference.
“I’ve been working really hard on my free programme, especially in the last few weeks,” she added.
Zagitova, making her Grand Prix Final debut at the age of 15, skated a routine at turns lyrical and powerful to “Black Swan” but a mistake on a jump kept her score at 76.27.
“I was nervous first of all, but happy that I could win out over my nervousness,” she said.
Japan’s Satoko Miyahara was third on her comeback after an 11-month absence due to a hip injury.
Reporting by Elaine Lies,; Editing by Ed Osmond