Reappearing act: Hanyu Yuzuru turns up in Saitama for Japanese nationals despite missing practice

The two-time Olympic champion was absent for training but made the draw, and will start 24th out of 32 in men's short programme on Christmas Eve.

By Shintaro Kano

Better late than never.

Two-time and reigning Olympic champion Hanyu Yuzuru arrived in time for the draw for the Japanese figure skating national championships in Saitama on Wednesday (22 December) following a no-show at official practice.

Hanyu, the defending national champion, will start 24th out of 32 skaters in the men's short programme on Christmas Eve at Saitama Super Arena.

He is in the fourth group and will hit the ice right after PyeongChang 2018 silver medallist Uno Shoma.

Hanyu_1

Neither Hanyu nor the Japan Skating Federation offered a reason for his last-minute absence at practice in the afternoon. Hanyu will, however, speak to the media following his scheduled training session on Thursday.

Hanyu made his way to Saitama Super Arena from his hometown and training base in Sendai.

Attendance at the draw is mandatory to compete at the nationals, which starts on Thursday and is the final Olympic qualifier for Beijing 2022.

Hanyu missed the entire Grand Prix season with a ligament injury in his right ankle and is set to make his Olympic season debut at the nationals.

On Wednesday, the 27-year-old did not appear to be favouring the ankle as he strutted through the draw.

The five-time national champion has not competed since the World Team Trophy in April.

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