Japanese figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu failed to land a quadruple Axel at the Beijing Games.
The quadruple Axel is a risky jump that requires skaters to spin four-and-a-half times in mid-air before landing.
Hanyu then fell once more on his second jump while attempting a quadruple Salchow.
Japanese figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu fell twice in his Olympic free skate program, crushing his dream of completing a quadruple Axel at the Beijing Games.
The defending champion attempted the risky jump — which required him to spin four-and-a-half times in mid-air before landing — in a bid to secure his third back-to-back figure skating gold medal. He came close to landing it at the Japanese nationals in December 2021 but landed on two feet instead of one.
Hanyu fell on his quadruple Axel attempt but continued skating after, then lost his balance one more time while making a second jump, a quadruple Salchow.
—NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 10, 2022
Hanyu's attempt at the free skate netted him a score of 188.06 points, after a two-point deduction. He was seen touching the ice before leaving the rink smiling, in what might well be his last run at the Olympics.
The Japanese skater's free skate took him to an overall total score of 283.21 points. He failed to make the podium, with Team Japan teammates Shoma Uno and Yuma Kagiyama claiming the bronze and silver medals, and American skater Nathan Chen clinching gold with a staggering 332.60 points.
According to reporting from CBC journalist Min Dhariwal, Hanyu was spotted holding an ice pack while giving interviews to journalists after his skate, and told reporters that he suffered an injury during practice on Wednesday. Behind-the-scenes photos appearing to show Hanyu with his foot wrapped in ice have also surfaced on Twitter.
—m(4A)ri ⁷⛸🍋 (@littolmyg) February 10, 2022
Speaking to Japanese media outlet NTV News, Hanyu said that he realized he was losing the sensation in his right leg before his free skate program, but decided to go ahead with it anyway.
"I skated without much feeling in my right foot, and I think I was able to finish it because of this surge in adrenaline. I do want to thank everyone — and the gods above — for all the support, because I don't think I could have performed like this without that," Hanyu said.
Talking about his falls, Hanyu told NTV that he "put all his feelings" into the free skate, which he described as "not too shabby."
"Honestly, I am disappointed and frustrated. I spent the last three days wondering why my efforts weren't reaping returns," Hanyu added. "This wasn't what I was aiming for in terms of the results. But I gave it my all and I have no regrets."
In a separate interview with Japanese media outlet Spoinichi, Hanyu said needed time to consider if he would continue on his quest for the elusive quadruple Axel.
"I'd like to think about it a bit. The amount of effort I put in this time was really everything I could muster," Hanyu said.
Hanyu, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, went into the Games as Japan's best hope for a figure skating gold medal. He has been chasing the quad Axel for years — a jump that has never been cleanly completed in competition by any male figure skater.
As part of his program, "Heaven and Earth," Hanyu was slated to attempt four planned quad jumps — a quadruple Axel, a quadruple Salchow, and two quadruple toe loops.
Hanyu's attempt at the quad Axel came after a series of injuries nearly ended his career. He won his second gold medal in Pyeongchang in 2018, despite going into the Games while recovering from an ankle ligament injury. Another leg injury to the same foot prevented him from competing between April and November last year.
Hanyu went into Thursday's free skate in eighth place, trailing American rival Chen by 95.15 points to 113.97 points in the short program.
On Tuesday, Chen broke Hanyu's short program world record score, which the latter set at the 2020 Four Continents tournament, scoring a 113.97.
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