Olympic champion Hanyu falls during practice for NHK Trophy

OSAKA, Japan (AP) Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu fell during Thursday’s practice for the NHK Trophy, a potential setback in his preparations for next year’s Pyeongchang Games.

Hanyu fell while attempting a quadruple lutz and favored his right ankle but did not leave practice. He skated during the run through for his free skate, although he elected not to do any more jumps.

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

The 22-year-old Hanyu didn’t attend an evening news conference ahead of Friday’s short program. The Japan Skating Federation said it wasn’t sure if Hanyu would be able to compete in the NHK Trophy.

If Hanyu were to pull out, he would not be able to qualify for next month’s Grand Prix Final in Nagoya, Japan.

Patrick Chan was scheduled to compete at the NHK but withdrew to focus on the Canadian national championships and the Olympics. Another absentee will be Daisuke Murakami, who has withdrawn because of pneumonia and will be replaced by 2016 junior national champion Kazuki Tomono.

The ice dance competition will be headlined by three-time and reigning world champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who won their seventh Skate Canada title last month with a record score and will be the clear favorites in Osaka.

In the women’s event, world champion Evgenia Medvedeva won in Russia and will be bidding to book her trip to a fifth consecutive Grand Prix Final with another victory in Osaka. Her main competition is likely to come from five-time European champion and Rostelecom Cup silver medalist Carolina Kostner and 2015 world silver medalist Satoko Miyahara, who is competing in her first Grand Prix this season.

World champions Wenjing Sui and Cong Han of China are favored in the pairs competition.

The Grand Prix series consists of six events and culminates in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Nagoya, Japan, in December – the last competition featuring the world’s top skaters before the Feb. 9-25 Olympics.

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