Japanese teenager Yuzuru Hanyu notched up a world record in the men's figure skating short programme on Thursday as he won over a crowd stunned by the withdrawal of home favourite Yevgeny Plushenko.
Unfazed by the dramatic turn of events, Hanyu twirled and leaped to a remarkable score of 101.45, stealing the thunder of Russian showman Plushenko who lived up to his reputation for drama by dropping out of the contest at the 11th hour.
"I was so surprised by my score... more than 100," beamed the slender Hanyu, 19, who had synched his fast-paced footwork and high-flying jumps to the electric guitar music of Gary Moore's "Parisian Walkways".
Earlier, the 31-year-old Plushenko, instead of taking up his starting position as the home fans chanted his name, veered towards officials to register an injury that ended his Games.
"It is God saying, 'Yevgeny, enough," he said of what he described as crippling back pain.
The crowd then got another shock when American Jeremy Abbott smashed his hip into the ice falling out of a soaring quadruple jump, slammed into the boards and took ages to get up.
"This men's event was insane, from Plushenko to Jeremy. It just was never ending!," the U.S.'s former Olympic champion Tara Lipinski told Reuters.
Plushenko's dramatic exit from his fourth Olympics saved him from trying to match the record-breaking performance of Hanyu and rival Patrick Chan of Canada, who finished first and second in the segment. Spain's Javier Fernandez was third.
Hanyu, clad in a flowing tie-dye shirt, finished his programme when he nailed a quadruple toeloop and triple Axel in close succession and then triumphantly raised his fists.
"My legs were shaking a little bit... I was really, really nervous," he added, although the audience would never have known given the incredible quality of his performance.
Chan's bobble on his triple Axel, as he skated with subdued artistry to Rachmaninov's Elegie in E Flat Minor, left him almost four points behind Hanyu despite an otherwise flawless skate on 97.52 with Fernandez adrift on 86.98.
Chan over-rotated on the Axel, taking too much air and stepping out of the landing to keep himself upright.
But the Canadian triple world champion, who has been neck-and-neck with Hanyu all season, said he felt confident he could make up the points in the long programme.
"I like being second, I like being in the chase," Chan told reporters. "The long programme can change a lot of things. Neither of us has done it in competition in front of these judges."
Abbot's heart-stopping fall, meanwhile, ruined his dreams of redeeming himself after a tumble in the team competition.
The 28-year-old lay on the ice clutching his hip as his music played on. The audience held their breath but erupted into applause as he lifted himself up, grimacing.
"In my mind, I was thinking, 'Do I go to the referee? Do I keep going? Am I done?'" Abbot said, pressing a bag of ice to his hip after his troubled skate.
"The second I stood up and the crowd just started screaming for me, I knew I had to finish." (Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by Ken Ferris)