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S Korean Cha Jun-hwan 4th after short program at Grand Prix Final

All Headlines 14:25 December 07, 2018

SEOUL, Dec. 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korean Cha Jun-hwan has posted the second-highest score of his career in the men's short program at the International Skating Union (ISU) Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final, putting himself within striking distance of a podium finish.

Cha earned 89.07 points to rank fourth among six skaters at the Grand Prix Final in Vancouver on Thursday (local time), with 47.35 points in technical element score and 41.72 points in program component score. Cha's career high in the short program is 90.56 points, set in September this year at a lower-tier ISU Challenger Series event.

Nathen Chen, a technical whiz from the United States, leads the pack at 92.99 points, followed by Shoma Uno of Japan at 91.67 points. Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic is only 0.14 point ahead of Cha in third place heading into Friday's free skate.

In this TASS photo, Cha Jun-hwan of South Korea performs his short program at the International Skating Union Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final at Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre in Vancouver on Dec. 6, 2018. (Yonhap)

Cha has some breathing room between himself and fifth-place Sergei Voronov, who earned 82.96 points in his short program.

Cha, 17, is the first South Korean, male or female, to qualify for the Grand Prix Final since Kim Yu-na in 2009. After six Grand Prix events, the top six skaters or teams in each discipline -- men's and women's singles, pairs and ice dance -- earn spots in the Grand Prix Final. Cha qualified on the strength of two third-place finishes in his two appearances.

Cha was the second skater to take the ice at Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre. He opened his program with what looked to be a clean quadruple salchow -- his only quad jump of the program -- but he failed to earn extra grade of execution (GOE) points for under-rotating on the jump.

Cha executed a flawless triple lutz-triple toe loop combination and later earned 1.71 GOE points for a triple axel. He closed out with a series of solid spins and steps.

Yuzuru Hanyu, the two-time reigning Olympic champion from Japan, pulled out of this event with an ankle injury, leaving the field a bit wider open.

In this EPA photo, Cha Jun-hwan of South Korea (R) sits with his coach Brian Orser (L) during the men's short program competition at the International Skating Union Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final at Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre in Vancouver on Dec. 6, 2018. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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