Figure skating: Miyahara to miss world c'ships

SPORTS

Japan's leading female figure skater Satoko Miyahara will miss the world championships starting late this month in Finland due to effects of her hip injury, the Japan Skating Federation said Monday.

Her absence could make it difficult for Japan to get a maximum three spots in women's singles for the Pyeongchang Winter Games in February next year, as the results of the March 29-April 2 meet in Helsinki will determine the number of Olympic berths per country.

Miyahara, who turns 19 on Sunday, was diagnosed with a stress fracture in her left hip and sat out the Four Continents championships and the Asian Winter Games in February.

The three-time defending national champion and two-time runner-up at the Grand Prix Final had been aiming to compete in the worlds, but a source close to the situation said she could not practice sufficiently due to pain.

"I have been gradually increasing the amount of training and making adjustments, but I continue to feel pain so I decided to pull out," Miyahara said in a statement. "I will concentrate on treatment so that I can make a full recovery next season."

Japan will be represented at the world championships by Four Continents champion Mai Mihara, national silver medalist Wakaba Higuchi and Rika Hongo in women's singles.

Japan, which has had three women's singles berths to the Olympics since the 2006 Turin Games, can earn three entries for Pyeongchang if the combined placement of its top two finishers at the worlds is 13 or less, but only two if the placing total is between 14 and 28.

==Kyodo

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