SOCHI, Russia -- Yuzuru Hanyu stayed crouched in his final pose, head bowed, certain the Olympic gold medal was gone.
But three-time world champion Patrick Chan, skating right after the Japanese teenager, faltered even worse and, for once, the judges refused to bail the Canadian out.
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Hanyu became Japan's first Olympic champion in men's figure skating Friday night, winning the gold medal in one of the sport's stunning finishes. Even with two falls early in his program, Hanyu edged Chan in the free skate and, coupled with his win in the short program, finished almost five points ahead.
Chan, who skated right after Hanyu, was stunned when he saw the big No. 2 next to his name. He sat in Kiss and Cry for several minutes to compose himself, not moving even after a Canadian skating official came over to reassure him. Chan has become used to winning with errors, including at last year's world championship.
But it was not to be on this night, as Canada's Olympic curse continued. The Canadians have never won a gold medal in men's figure skating, with Brian Orser, Kurt Browning and Elvis Stojko all falling short.
Denis Ten of Kazakhstan, the silver medalist at last year's world championships, was third.
Jason Brown of the United States was ninth and Jeremy Abbott 12th.
Orser may never have won gold on the ice, but he now has two straight behind the boards. He led Yuna Kim to her majestic victory four years ago in Vancouver, and now has taken Hanyu to the top of the podium.
Just 19, Hanyu established himself as a contender for gold with a victory at the Grand Prix final in December. If he was feeling the weight of the expectations, he sure didn't look it with dazzling performances in the short programs of the team competition and men's event.
But as Chan said after the short program, the target is much bigger at the Olympics.
Hanyu popped several jumps in warm-ups and looked unsettled, a far cry from the cool kid he'd been all Olympics. He still looked nervous when he took the ice for his skate, weaving in and out of the sweepers who were trying to gather up all the bouquets that had been thrown for Daisuke Takahashi, who'd skated before Hanyu.
After his name was announced, Hanyu blew out his breath several times and glanced at the scoreboard.
He crashed hard to the ice on his opening jump, a quadruple salchow. He came right back with a lovely quad toe, only to fall on a triple flip. But he regrouped to finish the rest of his program in style.