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Yuzuru Hanyu claimed his second Grand Prix Series title of the season in Moscow on Saturday, but what the world did not know as he took to the ice for his free skate was that Hanyu was injured.
During a practice session Saturday morning he took hard a hard fall on the landing of a quad loop and sustained an injury to an already weakened ankle. “I twisted my right ankle on landing. When I got up, I made a few laps while thinking and finished my practice while my music was still playing,” he explained. “When I left the venue I got on the bus dragging my right ankle. I had ice on the affected area. I thought about withdrawing because of the injury, but it was my choice to compete.”
Hanyu opened his free skate with a clean quad Salchow and a quad toe. But by the time he got to his step sequence the order of elements had changed and it was obvious something was not right.
Midway through the routine Hanyu under-rotated a Euler in a three-jump sequence, fell on the triple Axel that followed and popped the second Axel attempt into a single.
He earned 167.89 points for the free skate, a score well below the one he received at his first Grand Prix event in Helsinki. Nonetheless, he won his second Rostelecom Cup title with a total tally of 278.42.
The Japanese star attended at the press conference on a crutch. “The injury is not the same as last year, but it is very painful and the pain does not subside,” Hanyu said. “It really hurts now. The trauma made me change the program, but in this condition I could not execute it as it was intended. I made a mistake in the latter half.”
With two Grand Prix wins to his credit Hanyu was headed to the Final in three weeks. However, his participation is now in doubt. He stated at the press conference that doctors recommended he withdraw from the free skate because the ankle injury was more serious than they thought. He was also advised that he needed three weeks of recovery, which would effectively end his bid for a fifth Grand Prix Final title. He may also be forced to miss the Japanese Championships in late December.
The Russian skating federation reported that Edvin Marton, who performed the music for Hanyu’s long program (“Tribute to Nijinsky”), had travelled to Moscow to watch Hanyu perform the routine live.
Morisi Kvitelashvili of Georgia had the competition of his career, finishing second in both segments in Moscow. He earned a personal best-combined score of 158.64 points and claimed the silver medal. It was not only the first Grand medal of his career but also the first for his country. Kvitelashvili placed eighth at his first event, Skate America, and is not in the running for a berth at the Grand Prix Final.
“I did everything as planned, but not everything went as smoothly as I would have liked,” said Kvitelashvili, 23. “We’ll just continue to work. I am glad that I was able to show my program as clean as I could.”
Japan’s Kazuki Tomono, fourth after the short, moved up one spot to take the bronze with 238.73 points. “Unfortunately I was unable to control my nerves and lost to myself,” Tomono said. “But then I was able to get a grip on myself. This is the first time I made the podium at a Grand Prix and I am very happy about that.” The 20-year-old from Osaka placed ninth at Skate Canada and will not be headed to the Final.
Mikhail Kolyada made a leap from eighth after the short to fourth with 225.42 points. Keegan Messing rose from seventh to fourth with 220.75 points, narrowly edging out Germany’s Paul Fentz who placed sixth with 220.57 points.
Sweden’s Alexander Majorov, third after the short, dropped to 10th. Artur Dmitriev of Russia became the first skater to attempt a quad Axel in international competition. He crashed to the ice on the landing and the jump was downgraded. He finished 11th with 189.58 points.