Yuzuru Hanyu Tries Quadruple Axel, Wins Japan Figure Skating Championships

Yuzuru Hanyu tried a quadruple Axel in competition for the first time, and although he was demoted with a two-foot landing, he still won a sixth Japanese figure skating title on Sunday.

Two-time Olympic champion Hanyu has said for years that his goal is to land the Axel quad, the toughest quad and the only one that no one has touched in competition. He even raised it above other Olympic successes.

Hanyu pulled off two-legged, under-rotating Axel quad attempts during training last week at the national championships in Saitama, as well as in his warm-up 45 minutes before Sunday’s program.

He tried it early in his free skate, not having completed all four and a half rotations while still standing. He was demoted to a triple Axel.

He then hit three quads later, totaling 322.36 points for the competition. He won by a comfortable 26.54 points over the Olympic silver medalist Shoma uno.

“I am honestly relieved,” Hanyu said, according to Kyodo News. “I felt like I was about to cry even before the six minute warm-up.”

World Silver Medalist Yuma Kagiyama finished third to complete the expected podium and the three-man Olympic team.

Hanyu, Uno and Kagiyama are the main international challengers of the Americans Nathan Chen at the Olympic games.

Chen, who competes at the US championships next week, has beaten Hanyu in all four of this Olympic cycle.

Hanyu competed this weekend for the first time in eight months. He missed the fall Grand Prix series with a right ankle injury. That ankle has sidelined him three of the past five seasons.

He reportedly said on Sunday that in the fall he couldn’t do anything for a month while facing illness.

“I am not even on the starting line yet, but I will advance steadily” Hanyu said in a statement in mid-November, according to a translation of Kyodo News.

The 27-year-old has tied the record for most Japanese men’s titles in the past 50 years (Takeshi Honda).

Nobuo Satō holds the men’s record of 10 Japanese titles – back-to-back in the 1950s and 1960s – before coaching some of Japan’s best skaters.

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