Two-time world champion Fernandez favored at Cup of China

BEIJING (AP) Two-time world champion Javier Fernandez will kick off his Grand Prix campaign at the Cup of China, the third event of the International Skating Union’s Grand Prix series.

Fernandez heads into this weekend’s event in good form having beaten Olympic gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu at the Autumn Classic and Shoma Uno and Nathan Chen at the Japan Open.

Despite the quad fever that has dominated figure skating, Fernandez has stayed consistent with his program. In the free skate at the Autumn Classic in Montreal, he performed two clean quads and five triple jumps to edge Hanyu.

Fernandez’ main competition will come from local favorite Boyang Jin, who is also making his 2017 GP series debut.

World bronze medalist Jin has finished runner-up twice in Beijing and will be looking to take advantage of his artistry against Fernandez.

After a second-place finish at the U.S. International Classic last month, American Max Aaron is hoping a podium finish in Beijing will springboard his efforts to qualify for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February. Aaron missed the Olympics by one spot three years ago.

Other contenders are China’s Han Yan, Kevin Reynolds of Canada and world junior champion Vincent Zhou of the United States.

Gabrielle Daleman of Canada, the 2017 world bronze medalist, is favored in the women’s event. Four Continents champion Mai Mihara is also among the favorites.

World junior champion Alina Zagitova of Russia will be making her senior Grand Prix debut and will be a strong contender as will Wakaba Higuchi of Japan.

In pairs, world champions Wenjing Sui and Cong Han of China are the favorites, while two-time world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France headline the ice dance event.

The Grand Prix series consists of six events and culminates in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Nagoya, Japan in December – the last competition featuring the world’s top skaters before the Olympics.

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