FUKUOKA, Japan - Japanese teen figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu has thanked three-times world champion Patrick Chan for helping improve his style - leading to the Canadian's downfall at the Grand Prix Final.
Hanyu beat Chan in both the short programme and the longer free-skate, preventing him from winning a third men's title at the Grand Prix finale on Friday at Fukuoka in Japan.
It was the 22-year-old Canadian's first defeat of the Olympic season after he beat the Toronto-based Japanese into second spot at their two Grand Prix events this season - Skate Canada and the Trophee Eric Bompard in Paris.
"I have really grown up by skating with him in the two events. I have fully grown in the series and I really thank him (Chan) for this," Hanyu told reporters Sunday, the day after celebrating his 19th birthday.
Asked if he considered himself a rival of Chan, Hanyu was quick to deny the notion. "No. Never. I can swear that I don't see myself a rival at all."
"But thanks to him, I believe I am beginning to grasp my own style," he said.
"For example, in his presence, I got tense and felt like matching him. I gradually recovered from there and focused on myself in the end. And I became able to do what I can."
Hanyu, the 2010 world junior champion who has won two Grand Prix events since 2011, broke Chan's three-week-old world short programme record on Thursday.
In the final long programme, the slender Japanese fell in his opening quadruple salchow.
But he hit back with a clean quadruple toeloop and nailed five triples, two of them in combinations, while performing spins and steps at a maximum level four.
The Japanese earned 193.41 points for the free skate and 293.25 overall, both personal bests and second only to Chan's world marks of 196.75 and 295.27.
Chan skated a clean long programme but he scored 192.61 for a total of 280.08.
As a result, Hanyu has emerged as a major threat to Chan's bid to become Canada's first-ever Olympic men's gold medallist.
"I cannot say anything," the Japanese said of his high scores. "I myself didn't think I had performed my best if I looked at details. But I think I shall never forget that I am starting from here."