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Figure skater Nobunari Oda dragged down by his bootlaces

By Pritha Sarkar

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Nobunari Oda's hopes of winning a medal in the Olympic men's figure skating competition came undone when he suffered a wardrobe malfunction midway through his free skate on Thursday.

Following a crash landing on the triple loop, memories of Tonya Harding's skating debacle at the 1994 Olympics came flooding back when Japan's Oda had to stop mid routine to sort out one of his bootlaces.

With the long laces trailing his boots on the ice, Oda skated up to the judges seeking permission to retie the offending piece of cord.

A voice over the loudspeaker announced to the bemused crowd: "The skater has three minutes to address the problem."

He went up to his coach and frantically tried to sort out his laces before stepping back on ice to complete the last third of his Charlie Chaplin program.

By then the damage was done and he finished seventh in the event won by American Evan Lysacek.

"It came untied, it's my fault, I feel guilty for myself for doing this. I will try to make sure it does not happen again," a dejected Oda, who had been lying fourth after the short program, told reporters.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)