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Yuzuru Hanyu withdraws from Grand Prix event

Yuzuru Hanyu

GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 19: Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan competes in the men’s free skating during ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships - Gangneung -Test Event For PyeongChang 2018 at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 19, 2017 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Koki Nagahama/Getty Images)

Koki Nagahama

OSAKA, Japan (AP) — Yuzuru Hanyu pulled out of the NHK Trophy after injuring his ankle in practice, a setback that could have a serious impact on his preparations for an Olympic title defense.

The 22-year-old Hanyu withdrew before Friday’s short program, a day after falling while attempting a quadruple lutz in practice, and three months before the PyeongChang Olympics.

“As I was preparing for the NHK, I received an examination from doctors last night. Unfortunately their judgment was that I withdraw,” Hanyu said in a statement. “I will now go through treatment as I prepare for the Japanese Nationals.”

Nationals are Dec. 19-24 after the Grand Prix Final in Nagoya, Japan.

Hanyu appeared to be favoring his right ankle after the fall but did not leave Thursday’s practice. He skated during the run-through for his free skate, although he did not do any further jumps.

A two-time world champion, Hanyu last month placed second at the Rostelecom Cup in Russia, where he skated well but wasn’t his dominant self.

Hanyu joined other notable absentees from NHK.

Olympic silver medalist Patrick Chan withdrew to focus on the Canadian national championships and the Olympics. Japan’s Daisuke Murakami pulled out because of pneumonia.

The top remaining men in the field are past U.S. champions Jason Brown and Adam Rippon.

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