Hanyu Yuzuru plans to get back on the ice "as soon as possible" after pulling out of next week's NHK Trophy

The Japanese double Olympic figure skating gold medallist will miss the ISU Grand Prix event set to take place from 12-14 November in Tokyo. No timetable has been announced for his return with three months to go to Beijing 2022.

By Sean McAlister and Shintaro Kano
Picture by 2019 Getty Images

Two-time Olympic figure skating champion Hanyu Yuzuru will miss next week's NHK Trophy in Tokyo after suffering ligament damage in his right ankle, the Japan Skating Federation announced on Thursday.

The Japanese athlete, who won the men's singles gold at Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018, revealed that a fall on the ice had left him unable to take part in the 12-14 November competition.

In a statement released by the JSF, Hanyu said: "I have been working hard for the NHK Trophy, but I suffered one fall and got injured. I’m very disappointed.

"I think I've been practising well up to this point, with a lot of thought put into the work. I hope to take my lessons from this injury and focus on doing the things that are within my control".

No details of the injury were provided by the JSU. It remains to be seen whether Hanyu will make it for the 26-28 Rostelecom Cup in Sochi, for which he is listed.

"Right now, I am trying to get back on the ice as soon as possible by controlling the pain and rehabilitating on the ice", said Hanyu, who was gearing up to compete for the first time since the World Team Trophy in April.

"I will do everything I can to return to a competitive level in the shortest amount of time possible.

"With everyone's support, I will try to further evolve from here".

Picture by 2019 Getty Images

What the injury means

With his withdrawal from the NHK Trophy and participation in the Rostelecom Cup up in the air, Hanyu has effectively been ruled out of the 9-12 December Grand Prix Final in Osaka for which only the top six skaters can qualify.

He chose not to enter the last Grand Prix season amid the thickness of the global pandemic, citing as a reason precautionary measures to take against his asthmatic condition.

Hanyu's path to Beijing 2022 now runs through the 22-26 December Japanese national championships in Saitama, which doubles as the Olympic trials. Participation at the nationals is, in principle, mandatory for anyone seeking one of three places at the Games.

However even if Hanyu is not fit in time for the trials, the JSF can make an exception based on past achievements provided that there is a valid reason for his absence.

The right ankle has been the Achilles' heel for Hanyu throughout his career.

He has injured the ankle several times including at the 2017 NHK Trophy when he was hurt while attempting a quad lutz during official practise.

The injury forced Hanyu out of the nationals that year. The JSF selected him for PyeongChang the following February by virtue of his then world No. 1 ranking and because he was showing progress in his recovery.

Hanyu went on to defend his Olympic title, becoming the first man since Dick Button at Oslo 1952 to capture back-to-back golds.

The 26-year-old Hanyu, who has also won two World Championships gold medals, has a slew of records to his name, including becoming the first-ever skater to score over 100 points in the Olympic short programme when he was awarded 101.45 points in 2014.

Earlier this week in an interview with broadcaster NHK, Hanyu confirmed that he had been continuing to work on the quadruple Axel, a jump never completed in competition, with the aim to land it sometime this season.

"My biggest hope is to land a quad Axel properly at NHK Trophy," he said. "I hope to deliver a performance that would move the audience by pushing beyond my limits in techniques."

However, after this injury setback, the Japanese skating legend - who has yet to confirm his participation at next year's Olympics - will be forced to wait to see when he is able to make a return to the ice with less than 100 days to go until Beijing 2022.


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