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How Yuzuru Hanyu Destroyed the Olympic Men's Figure Skating Competition, in GIFs - The Wire

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Hanyu's Triple Lutz-Triple Toe vs. Chan's Quad Toe Loop-Triple Toe

The underlying premise of figure skating is to do your jumps as clean as possible. Each jump has a base value which varies based on its difficulty, and judges can award people depending on how well or how poorly someone does that jump. They can add points to or deduct points from that value. That's called a "Grade of Execution" or a GOE and those are capped at +3 and -3 points.  

Combinations is where Chan had the edge. Chan's jump combination is more difficult than Hanyu's, meaning that if both skaters skated to the best of their ability, Chan's would be worth more points. That came to fruition on Thursday:

Patrick chan quad toe gif Sochi 2014

Chan was given a +2 GOE, meaning judges believe his jump was very close to perfect. Hanyu's combination was easier (ergo a lower base value) and judges only awarded him a +1.5 GOE. 

You Sugru aha you triple toe gif Sochi 2014

Based on those combinations, Chan had around a 4-point advantage. But there's more than one jump in a program. 

Hanyu's Triple Axel vs. Chan's Triple Axel

So how does a 4-point disadvantage turn into a 4-point advantage?  Let's start with Hanyu's near-perfect triple axel, which came at the halfway point of his short program:

Yuzuru Hanyu triple axel gif Sochi 2014

Because it came in the second half of his program, it starts off at a 10 percent higher base value — 9.35 vs. 8.50 (because of fatigue, jumps in the second half are given higher values). And judges awarded him a +2.14 GOE, meaning they really loved this triple axel. And what's not to love? He covered a lot of ice, it looked effortless, and his landing looked like it could be done in his sleep. Chan's wasn't as pretty:

Patrick Chan triple axel gif Sochi 2014

Chan's axel came in the first half of his program, meaning he was starting at the 8.50 base value. He also stumbled on that landing, and was penalized. And just like that, Chan more than made up for his less difficult combination pass with nearly a 4-point advantage. 

Hanyu's Quad Toe vs. Chan's Triple Lutz

This is where their strategy differs. If you recall, we saw Chan incorporate his quadruple jump into his combination to rack up points. Hanyu actually performs his quadruple jump by itself. And on Wednesday he did it as close to perfect as he could:

You sugru Hanyu quad toe loop gif Sochi 2014 Imgur

Chan does a triple lutz as his solo jump. It has a lower base value than Hanyu's quad toe, and though the judges liked his execution, they did not award it with as many GOE points as they did Hanyu's.

Patrick Chan triple lutz gif Sochi 2014 Imgur

Chan made up some points here and there with his spins, but he still came out trailing Hanyu by around 4 points going into the free skate. Chan catching him wouldn't be unheard of — you can see how a few GOE points here and there could sway the competition— but it would take a mistake, like Chan's triple axel for it to happen. And Hanyu kinda knows this.

Sounds even more exciting than a pokemon battle!Nice use of gif. : )

It was and it is!

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