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Skaters Medvedeva, Jin drop out of Grand Prix Finals due to injury

By Emily Pacenti
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Skaters Medvedeva, Jin drop out of Grand Prix Finals due to injury
Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia performs during the women's free skating competition of the ISU Figure Skating Grand Prix Rostelecom Cup in Moscow on October 21. File Photo by Yuri Kochetkov/EPA-EFE

Dec. 1 (UPI) -- World figure-skating champion Evgenia Medvedeva and world bronze medalist Jin Boyang have dropped out of next week's Grand Prix Finals due to injury.

Medvedeva, of Russia, began to feel pain related to a foot injury before her first Grand Prix assignment of the year, the Rostelecom Cup in Moscow. She competed nonetheless and walked away with the gold medal. Feeling similar discomfort at her next event, the NHK Trophy in Japan, she did the same, winning another gold despite injury.

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Then last week Medvedeva said her right leg was in a cast after an MRI found bone fractures in her right foot. She had previously insisted she would compete in the Grand Prix Finals anyway unless doctors ruled her out.

If the Olympics were happening now, Medvedeva said she would compete. But Russia's figure skating federation said Friday the injury will take her out of next week's competition.

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The fracture may also impact her participation at upcoming Russian Nationals, but she is a shoo-in for the Olympic team regardless.

Medvedeva's absence may be the biggest game changer to the Grand Prix finals so far. The 18-year-old skater has not placed lower than first in a competition since a single silver medal at a Grand Prix assignment in 2015. She holds all world records for ladies short program score, free skate score and total combined score.

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Medvedeva, who has also won her last two Grand Prix Finals with wide leads, is considered untouchable.

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Her absence will leave the door open for the first time in ages for other women to top the podium.

Her 15-year-old teammate Alina Zagitova is considered a new favorite to win. Medvedeva's spot will be filled by Satoko Miyahara of Japan, the first alternate.

On the men's side, Jin of China has also dropped out of the final competition. While he had not released an official statement late Friday as to why, he did perform last week at Skate America with two sprained ankles -- a competition where injuries ran rampant.

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His spot will be filled by American skater Jason Brown, making this year's finals the first in eight years to contain three American men.

Medvedeva and Jin are among many of the top skaters missing from the finals, which begin Thursday in Nagoya, Japan due to injury, or other circumstances.

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