Yuzuru Hanyu & Shoma Uno at the Japanese Nationals 2020

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Two-time defending Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu delivered a dramatic and nearly flawless free skate on Saturday and won his fifth Japanese national figure skating title, tying the beloved Daisuke Takahashi in the record books and moving closer to a March showdown with Nathan Chen at the world championships.

Yuzu, who led after Friday’s short program, skated two clean programs with all positive grades of execution on jumping passes for the first time since the December 2015 Grand Prix Final — when he was at the peak of his dominance, breaking world records in back-to-back competitions.

Four-time defending champion Shoma Uno, third after the short program, delivered in a free skate that also included four quad jumps and earned him a 190.59 score which lifted him to second place.

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Yuzu returned to a familiar place after his longest break between skating competitions: the top of the standings. The two-time Olympic champion landed a quadruple Salchow and a quad toe loop when he revealed his new short program, tallying 103.53 points in the Japanese Championships yesterday.

He’s followed by Yuma Kagiyama and Shoma Uno in places two and three so far. The competition will conclude tomorrow.