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Tatsuki Machida retires from figure skating

Tatsuki Machida

HOFFMAN ESTATES, IL - OCTOBER 24: Tatsuki Machida competes in the Men Short Program during the 2014 Hilton HHonors Skate America competition at the Sears Centre Arena on October 24, 2014 in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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Tatuski Machida, the reigning World Championships silver medalist, surprisingly announced his retirement from figure skating after the Japan National Championships on Sunday.

Machida, 24, said he is leaving the sport to focus on school, according to reports.

Machida finished fifth in his Olympic debut in Sochi. He took silver at his World Championships debut in Saitama, Japan, one month later. Countryman Yuzuru Hanyu won both competitions.

Machida is the two-time reigning Skate America champion. He won this year’s event in Hoffman Estates, Ill., by 34.92 points, the biggest rout in the event’s history (since the new scoring system was implemented in 2003). His total score was the highest of the Grand Prix series, before Hanyu topped it at the Grand Prix Final two weeks ago.

Machida’s absence opens the door for rising Japanese skater Shoma Uno, a 17-year-old who finished second to Hanyu at the Japanese Championships and won the Junior Grand Prix Final. Machida was fourth at the Japanese Championships.

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