Figure Skating

Yuzuru Hanyu pulls out of nationals due to ankle injury

Kyodo

Yuzuru Hanyu will not compete at the upcoming national championships due to his right-ankle injury, the World No. 1 said Monday in a statement through the Japan Skating Federation.

Although the Dec. 21-24 championships serve as the qualifier for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games, the reigning Olympic men’s figure skating champion is assured of qualification due to his world ranking.

Hanyu suffered ankle tendon and bone injuries after falling while attempting a quad lutz during training at the NHK Trophy on Nov. 9 and has not competed since.

The 23-year-old said in the statement that he had hoped to be back on the ice in time for the nationals.

“My treatment and rehab was geared for the nationals,” he said.

“I’m committed to getting into the best condition for training as soon as possible.”

Hanyu, who pulled out of the nationals last year with influenza, faces the prospect of competing for a medal in Pyeongchang with a minimum of preparation.

He sat out the Nov. 10-12 NHK Trophy in Osaka and also opted out of the Dec. 7-10 Grand Prix Final in Nagoya, where he would have been going for a fifth straight title.

Three days after suffering the ankle injury, Hanyu said he had received medical advice to wait three to four weeks before returning to the ice.

However, federation director Yoshiko Kobayashi on Dec. 13 said his recovery could take longer than initially expected.