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Japan’s Hanyu wins Rostelecom Cup despite ankle injury

November 17, 2018
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Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan performs in the men's free skating during the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Rostelecom Cup in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

MOSCOW (AP) — Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu won gold at the Rostelecom Cup, the fifth of six Grand Prix figure skating events, despite an ankle injury that left him on crutches after the competition.

Hanyu, the Olympic gold medalist, started strongly on Saturday with two clean quads and appeared to be his usual assured self, but he stepped out of his second pass at a quad toe loop then fell on a triple and singled an axel.

With his ankle wrapped in a bandage, Hanyu hobbled into a news conference and said he had aggravated a previous ankle injury in the morning practice.

He had considered dropping out, he said, but “I really love skating here. I really wanted to skate this program.”

The injury leaves him uncertain about whether he’ll compete in the Japanese nationals or in the Grand Prix Final in December, Hanyu said.

His free program total score of 167.89 was more than 20 points off his season best, but it was nearly 10 points ahead of Georgia’s Morisi Kvitelashvili, who landed three clean quads to make his first Grand Prix podium appearance.

“I really managed to execute everything I planned,” Kvitelashvili said. “Not everything went smoothly.”

Japan’s Kazuki Tomono took bronze, moving up from fourth place after the short program. Alexander Majorov of Sweden, who was third after the short program, had trouble on almost every jump after his opening quad and finished the free skate in 10th place.

Tomono said he had a bad case of the nerves at the beginning of his free skate and “was losing to myself,” but then regained control to win his first Grand Prix medal.

In pairs, Russians bracketed the podium positions, with Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov winning and the bronze going to Daria Pavliuchenko and Denis Khodykin. In between, with silver, were Nicole Della Monica and Matteo Guarise of Italy.

Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin of Russia won the gold in ice dancing, their 199.3 total a full 25 points ahead of silver medalists Sara Hurtado and Kirill Khaliavin of Spain. The United States’ Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko were third.

Stepanova and Bukin said their emotions were high, partly because they’d had to wait several minutes to get on the ice because of a delay in announcing the results for the previous couple.

“We were really anxious to start,” Bukin said.

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