Injured Takahashi, defending champion, out of Grand Prix Final

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Japan has lost one home favorite for the Grand Prix Final next week, but gained another.

Reigning Olympic bronze medalist Daisuke Takahashi pulled out of the season-ending event, set to begin Dec. 5 in Fukuoka, Japan. He will be replaced by countryman Nobunari Oda, the AFP reported.

Just six skaters compete at the Grand Prix Final, which is made up of the top finishers from the Grand Prix circuit in October and November.

Reigning and three-time world champion Patrick Chan leads the field, along with Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu and Tatsuki Machida, Maksim Kovtun of Russia and China’s Yan Han.

Takahashi, who was fourth at Skate America last month before storming back for gold at the NHK Trophy in Tokyo three weeks ago, is suffering from a bruise on his right shin, discovered on Tuesday, and will need two weeks to recover from the injury.

The 27-year-old Takahashi was world champion in 2010 and the defending champion at the Grand Prix Final, which he has won a medal at in five of seven years, dating back to 2006.

“I will try to guide myself positively and face up to this situation without looking away from it,” the AFP reported Takahashi saying, who has plans to retire after the Sochi Olympics in February.

Takahashi, Hanyu, Machida and Oda are competing for three Olympic spots for Japan, which holds its national championships Dec. 21-23.

Mao Asada, the reigning Olympic silver medalists, leads the ladies’ field heading into the Grand Prix Final, which also features four Russian teenagers.