• Reuters, Kyodo

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Figure skating’s two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu will miss the sixth Grand Prix event scheduled in Sochi, Russia, due to an ankle injury that also kept him out of last week’s NHK Trophy in Tokyo, the Japan Skating Federation said on Wednesday.

With the Beijing Winter Games less than three months away, the 26-year-old was still recovering from ligament damage to the right ankle that he suffered earlier this month, it said.

“The pain is there depending on how I move but its impact is waning in my day-to-day life,” Hanyu said in a statement.

“I haven’t reached the starting line yet but I am steadily moving forward.”

The Cup of Russia in Sochi, scheduled from Nov. 26-28, is the last of the six Grand Prix events during the Olympic season before the Dec. 9-12 Grand Prix Final in Osaka.

Hanyu, who won gold in the men’s singles at Sochi 2014, also injured his ankle in the buildup to the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, keeping him off the ice for two months.

However, he returned to fitness in time to become the first man in 66 years to win back-to-back figure skating titles.

His absence from the NHK Trophy, contested by an international field for the first time since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was won on Saturday by fellow countryman Shoma Uno.

The Dec. 23-26 national championships at Saitama Super Arena will be the final chance for Japanese skaters to qualify for the three men’s and three women’s spots on the Olympic team, although Hanyu could still receive a spot based on past results.

The 2022 Beijing Games start on Feb. 4.

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