Yuzuru Hanyu

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Hanyu’s gold was No. 1,000 awarded in Winter Olympics

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PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP)  – Yuzuru Hanyu’s latest victory has an extra-special place in Olympics history.

The Japanese figure skater won the 1,000th gold medal since the Winter Games began in 1924, defending his title in the men’s individual competition on Saturday. Hanyu was also the first man to win consecutive golds in the event since American Dick Button did it in 1948 and 1952.

The first Winter Olympics was held in Chamonix, France, and American speedskater Charles Jewtraw won the first gold medal there in the men’s 500 meters.

The Pyeongchang Games had another milestone set earlier this week when snowboarder Shaun White won the men’s halfpipe to give the United States its 100th winter gold.

RELATED: A history of Team USA’s 100 Winter Olympic gold medals

Hanyu set for figure skating return … and some history?

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Yuzuru Hanyu is the first man to enter an Olympics as the reigning gold medalist and reigning world champion since Dick Button did so in 1952.

It’s yet another impressive feat from Hanyu, who topped the field in 2014 to become the youngest Olympic gold medalist since Button.

Hanyu was also Japan’s first-ever men’s Olympic gold medalist. He has two world championship titles and was the first man to win four consecutive Grand Prix Final titles.

This Olympic season has been the most challenging for Hanyu yet. He opened his season at the Autumn Classic, where he earned silver behind his training mate and rival, Spain’s Javier Fernandez. At his first Grand Prix assignment in Russia, Hanyu finished second behind American rival Nathan Chen. Hanyu was set to compete on home ice at the Grand Prix in Japan but injured himself in warm-up, and doctors advised him to withdraw. He subsequently missed the Grand Prix Final and Japan’s national championships.

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Yuzuru Hanyu to miss Japan Figure Skating Championships

Yuzuru Hanyu
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Yuzuru Hanyu, the reigning Olympic and world figure skating champion, will miss his national championships this week after suffering ankle and knee injuries this fall, according to Japanese media citing the Japan Skating Federation.

Hanyu can (and very likely will) be named to Japan’s three-man Olympic team despite missing nationals.

Hanyu has reportedly been off the ice for more than one month since a Nov. 9 practice fall.

“It is an important selection competition, and the Olympics are a big goal, so with that in mind we would like to think things through together,” Japan Skating Federation director Yoshiko Kobayashi said last week, according to Kyodo News.

Hanyu, who turned 23 on Dec. 7, fell on a quadruple Lutz attempted and then favored his right ankle in a Nov. 9 practice at a Grand Prix event (video here).

He skated the run-through for his free skate, although he elected not to do any more jumps.

“I have been told by the doctor that I need 10 days of complete rest,” Hanyu said in a statement on Nov. 12, according to Kyodo. “Following that, it will take three to four weeks to return and get back to where I was.”

Hanyu and world silver medalist Shoma Uno are favored to lead Japan’s Olympic men’s figure skating team. The third spot is likely to go to Takahito Mura or Keiji Tanaka.

Hanyu competed twice this season.

He posted a world-record short program score in his debut at a small September event in Canada, but struggled to fifth place in the free skate and finished second overall behind two-time world champion Javier Fernandez of Spain.

He then finished second to U.S. champion Nathan Chen at the first Grand Prix event of the season in Moscow in October.

Chen is the only undefeated male singles skater this season.

Hanyu won four straight national titles before missing last season’s event with the flu.

He was still named to Japan’s team for worlds, where he won his second title in four years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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