UPDATE (11/13): According to a statement released through the Japan Skating Federation, Hanyu will be out for tentatively three to four weeks.
”Thank you always for your ongoing support,” Hanyu notes via the statement. “I was told by my doctors that I am to have complete rest for 10 days. I hope to recover in three to four weeks, but this is tentative.”
Reigning Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu has officially withdrawn from 2017 NHK Trophy today after suffering a right ankle injury yesterday during a fall in practice. Hanyu's injury happens with less than three months left until the Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. The last male skater to repeat as Olympic champion was Dick Button, who won gold at the 1948 and 1952 Olympics.
According to NHK News, Hanyu suffered a right ankle ligament injury. His next competition is slated to be the All Japan Championship in late December.
What is critical about the right ankle is that it is his landing foot. It is also his right foot that Hanyu uses to pick in for his quad lutz and, less impactfully, his triple flip, and torque out for his quad loop. As he recovers from this injury over the next weeks and months, he will very likely be advised to lay off the loop, flip, and lutz early on because of the sheer force they take to take off for those jumps.
The extent of Hanyu's injury is still unknown to the public, but in a statement Hanyu released, he noted that he is focusing on returning for the All Japan Championships in late December.
“As I was preparing for the NHK, I received an examination from doctors last night. Unfortunately their judgment was that I withdraw. I will now go through treatment as I prepare for the Japanese nationals.”
Yuzuru Hanyu's statement on his withdrawal from NHK Trophy
Grand Prix Final open
With Hanyu out, Patrick Chan withdrawing from NHK this week to focus on training for the Olympics, and Javier Fernandez coming off a disappointing sixth at Cup of China last weekend, it will very likely be the first time since 2009 that none of those three skaters will be at the Grand Prix Final.
The latest developments swing the door wide open for Grand Prix Final qualification. But beyond that, it is more than just a boon for the skaters' chances at the Final, it provides an opportunity for skaters to differentiate themselves in the Olympic selection process, as many of the top countries' criteria weigh the Grand Prix Final into their decisions for Olympic team selection.