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Figure skating: Olympic hopeful Kihira withdraws from Skate Canada

Rika Kihira. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Two-time Japanese national champion Rika Kihira will skip the Skate Canada International competition at the end of this month while she continues rehabilitating an injured right ankle, the Japan Skating Federation said Tuesday.

    The 19-year-old, who won her second straight national women's singles title last December, has not fully recovered from the osteochondral injury she suffered in July.

    "I will focus on treatment and rehabilitation to prepare for upcoming meets," Kihira said in a statement.

    Kihira is scheduled to compete at the Nov. 12-13 NHK Trophy in Tokyo, but she will most likely miss out on the Dec. 9-11 Grand Prix Final in Osaka, contested by only the top six skaters in the series.

    The injury setback has delayed Kihira's bid for selection to the Japanese team for February's 2022 Beijing Winter Games, where she aims to win her first Olympic medal.

    After relocating to Toronto last month to train under Canadian coach Brian Orser, who also works with Japanese men's superstar Yuzuru Hanyu, Kihira had been aiming to kick off her Olympic season at the Oct. 29-31 Skate Canada International in Vancouver.

    The 2018-19 Grand Prix Final winner also withdrew from the Olympic test event competition held in Beijing last week.

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