Yuzuru Hanyu seals Olympic berth with Japan championships win
Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu booked his place at the Beijing Winter Games by defending his singles crown at the Japanese national championships with a superb display in which he almost became the first skater to land a quadruple axel in competition.
Hanyu, who won Olympic figure skating gold at Sochi and Pyeongchang, last competed at the World Team Trophy in April after missing the Grand Prix season due to a right ankle injury.
The 27-year-old grabbed the lead in Saitama by scoring 111.31 in the short program on Friday before posting 211.05 in his free skate on Sunday for a 322.36 total.
Pyeongchang silver medallist Shoma Uno was again runner-up, finishing with a personal best of 295.82 while 18-year-old Yuma Kagiyama scored 292.41 to finish third.
Hanyu attempted a quadruple axel in competition for the first time but landed on two feet and the jump was downgraded to a triple axel. He said he was pleased with his performance, which included three other quad jumps.
“I’m honestly relieved,” Hanyu was quoted as saying by Kyodo news agency.
“I felt as though I was about to cry even before the six-minute warm-up.”
Six-tim national champion Hanyu said he would keep practicing the quadruple axel with the aim of landing it in competition after nailing it in training last week.
The Beijing Games run from Feb. 4-20.
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