On a night where it seemed like the top two contenders, Patrick Chan and Yuzuru Hanyu, tried valiantly to give the gold medal away, it was eventually Hanyu who was crowned Olympic champion in men's figure skating. Usually, gold medals mean an athlete going above and beyond, delivering a once-in-a-lifetime performance (see: Douglas, Gabby). That did not happen on Friday.
Instead we were treated to a bobble-fest. Here's how it went down:
Going into the free skate, Japan's Hanyu had a 3.93-point lead over Canada's Chan thanks to his splendid and record-breaking short program. That is not insurmountable. But that's big enough of a cushion that if Hanyu skated cleanly, there would be nothing Chan could do no matter how well he skated.
We've kind of gone over scoring a bit now. If you're down with scoring, scroll down to the next section. If you're still here, the most important thing you need to know is that free skates are comprised of a component score (comprised mostly choreography, artistry, skating skills) and a technical score. The latter part is the tricky thing.
The technical score of free skates are made up of 13 elements — a combination of spins, jumps, and combination jumps that all carry a base value. Skaters want to do every single one of those elements beautifully because judges have the power to penalize and take away points or reward skaters and add bonus points based on how well (for jumps skater get scored on the jump, the entry going into the jump, the speed, height, etc.) or how bad they performed those elements. These are called Grade of Execution scores and are capped at -3 and +3. Now, let's move on to Hanyu's performance.