Ankle scare for Yuzuru Hanyu after Moscow win
Yuzuru Hanyu went down, but not out. For now at least.
Despite nursing a sprained ankle sustained in morning practice and falling during the free skate, the Japanese skater clinched victory at the ISU Grand Prix event in Moscow with a total score of 278.42.
But the double Olympic champion admits he faces a battle to be fit for the Grand Prix Final in three weeks' time in Vancouver.
"I twisted my foot this morning and it really hurts. It wasn't as bad as last year. This injury made me change my program and sadly I couldn't perform the way I wanted. I think this is a big problem for my ankle." - Yuzuru Hanyu after winning the Rostelecom Cup
Hanyu is only human
The expectations inside the Megasport Sport Palace were high, especially after Hanyu had broken the world record in the short program the day before.
Carrying a 20-point lead, victory for the double Olympic champion seemed assured and the thousands of fans inside the arena wanted another masterclass performance.
However, according to his coach Brian Orser, he almost didn't take to the ice.
"So he was having treatment all morning and it was a big question if he was going to skate." - Brian Orser speaking to Olympic Channel
Despite being advised by his doctor not to skate for fear of aggravating the injury, Hanyu decided to compete.
And Orser is proud of the two-time world champion for making that decision despite the challenging circumstances.
"We had to change the order of the jumps, we had to make a lot of changes. He made a lot of changes." - Brian Orser to Olympic Channel
The changes were apparent from the very start.
Hanyu dropped his opening quadruple loop and instead started with a quad Salchow.
"Regarding the injury, I have regrets that it happened. Like I did something wrong, something incorrect. But my ankle really feels bad so all my jumps have an impact on my ankle." - Yuzuru Hanyu
As he attempted to skate around his injury, it finally caught up with him on his triple Axel and he fell.
Nonetheless, the 23-year-old finished his Origin routine in Moscow, which was a tribute to Russia's double Olympic Champion Evgeni Plushenko.
"I was thinking to stop this competition after my injury but it's my choice. I trained hard to pay tribute to Russian skating and Russian choreography. I am satisfied with how I could skate here."
Despite the injury, Hanyu won the free skate with 167.89 points to clinch overall victory by almost 30 points and claim his second Rostelecom Cup title.
More fitness worries
Hanyu's fitness is now a concern for the rest of the season.
He had to use a crutch to help him walk into the post-event press conference and his injured right ankle is the same one which almost ruled him out of PyeongChang 2018.
And he admits there is a doubt over his participation at the Grand Prix Final, and the Japanese nationals later in December.
"With respect to the Grand Prix Final and the Japanese nationals, I am not sure about it. The doctor told me not to skate because the injury would get worse, but I still decided to go for it. That was my choice."
"Figure skating is such a sport where even when the injury heals, you still can't skate the same way you were skating prior to it."
Hanyu's victory in Moscow and at the Grand Prix of Helsinki a fortnight ago, marks the first time in his nine senior seasons that he's won both Grand Prix events leading up to the Grand Prix Final.
But now all the attention is on whether he'll be fit for Vancouver.
Morisi makes his mark
Georgia's Morisi Kvitelashvili who trains in Moscow under Eteri Tuberidze, managed a season's best of 158.64 in the free skate to finish second overall with 248.58.
That made the 23-year-old the first man from Georgia to finish on the podium at a Grand Prix event.
Kvitelashvili was only eighth at Skate America last month so this was a huge improvement despite his chances of reaching the Grand Prix Final having already gone.
Japan's Kazuki Tomono, who was fourth after the short program, claimed the last spot on the podium with a season's best total of 238.73 points.
Quad Axel Attempt
Artur Dmitriev Jr caused quite a stir when he attempted to become the first skater in history to pull off the quadruple Axel in competition.
But the son of two-time Olympic pairs champion, Artur Dmitriev, fell on his attempt and ended up 11th overall.