Figure skating: Hanyu starts time trial in Japan six weeks before the Games

Yuzuru Hanyu, two-time Olympic figure skating champion, said on Thursday that he had not “reached the starting line” six weeks before the Beijing Olympics (4 – 20 February), as the Japanese driver prepares to compete in his first competition since April.

Hanyu, 27 years old, injured in training in early November with a ligament in the right ankle, will take part in the Japanese Championship, which takes place this week to Saitama.

The Olympic champion from Sochi, in 2014, and Pyeongchang, in 2018, showed up for training on Thursday, after having missed the one on Wednesday.

“”I did what I planned to do today (Thursday). It was + pass + the axel. I am not focusing on rotations”, he explained to an audience of journalists, mentioning his willingness to attempt the quadruple axel, a jump that has never been successful in official competition.

“I think Beijing could be the end point of it all, so I have come here fully resolved to face it head-on.”

The short program will take place on Friday, and the free skate on Sunday.

Hanyu is in a race against the clock to be ready for Beijing where he can become the third skater in history, after the Swede Gillis Grafström and the Norwegian Sonja Henie, to win the Olympic title three times in a row.

In 2018, Hanyu had prepared for the Games in rather similar conditions: an injury to the left ankle, a forfeit in the Japanese Championship and a narrow return to the Pyeongchang Olympics where he had triumphed.