Japanese champion Satoko Miyahara, the second-ranked women’s figure skater this season, will miss the world championships next week due to a hip injury.
The 2015 World silver medalist will be replaced on the three-woman Japanese team by Rika Hongo, the Japanese Skating Federation announced Monday, according to Japanese media.
Miyahara, 18, was the closest skater this season to Russian Yevgenia Medvedeva, who is a massive favorite to become the first woman to repeat as world champion since Michelle Kwan in 2000 and 2001. Medvedeva hasn’t lost a competition since November 2015.
Miyahara finished second to Medvedeva at December’s Grand Prix Final, the second-biggest annual competition behind worlds. Medvedeva won the event with 227.66 points.
Miyahara tallied a personal-best 218.33, the highest score in the world since the 2014 Olympics, save Medvedeva. Miyahara then won the Japanese Championships for a third straight time but withdrew ahead of February’s Four Continents Championships with the hip injury.
Miyahara’s absence from worlds should boost the U.S. women’s contingent of Ashley Wagner, Mariah Bell and Karen Chen. Hongo’s top score this season is 181.75 points, ranking 14th out of skaters in the worlds field.
The two best results out of Wagner, Bell and Chen must total to no more than 13 for the U.S. women to keep three spots for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. For example, if Wagner finishes fifth and Bell finishes eighth, the U.S. would get three spots on the number.
With Miyahara out, the U.S. skaters’ rankings in the world championships field this season by best scores in international competitions:
Wagner: No. 8
Bell: No. 10
Chen: No. 17
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