[ENG TRANSLATION] Yuzuru Hanyu’s Pre-World Team Trophy Media – 210414

Photo by Sponichi

All articles originally published 14 April 2021

Part 1 | Part 2

Translation & proofreading: @yuzueco, @axelsandwich & @shinjistarxx 


Figure skating World Team Trophy (2021) will begin on April 15th, and Men’s skater Yuzuru Hanyu (ANA) finished his first official practice on the 14th, and then answered online interview questions.



―How do you feel after ending your first practice today?

Yuzuru: Hmm, um… my 14-day quarantine period ended, since it finally just ended today, so, well, I came here upon properly carrying out my responsibility to finish the isolation period. So because of that, I really just arrived here today, so I think to a certain extent there’s some parts where my legs are a little unsteady, but, taking that into account, I think I was able to adjust well [in today’s practice].




―What kind of meaning does the World Team Trophy [this year] have for you, and what kind of competition do you want to make of it?

Y: Hmm. Of course, I am gravely aware that the Osaka area is currently in a bad situation [regarding COVID]. And, I understand that the whole world, including Japan, and my hometown Miyagi, Sendai too, are all in a difficult state as well, so I am here right now with conflicting feelings. That is, the decision of whether I should withdraw from the competition, or should participate, and upon taking into account various opinions, what I can do right now is to stand here, and to leave behind a performance, that can be some sort of hope for someone, or move their heart in some sort of way, really, even if it’s just for one second. It doesn’t even have to be a [whole] second. I think I’m here to put out a performance that can remain with people in some sort of way. It’s… really hard to respond to a difficult problem like this in words. However, the difficult circumstances are ultimately the same as during the 3.11 disaster, in that I am painfully aware that for everyone it’s different. There are people who are [facing] difficulties related to work, and I think also there are medical staff who are (experiencing) extraordinary fatigue, even suffering mentally, and various other things. There are those like us who are fine and able to diligently practice self-restraint but on the other hand, there are also many people who are tired of living under such restrictions.There are really a lot of different situations. But, I think I can definitely leave something behind through my performance [in these circumstances], or rather, I want to do so. I want to take the opportunity of being at this World Team Trophy to leave some sort of meaning through my programs.



―It’s been two World Team Trophy competitions since you last represented team Japan [at WTT 2017]

Y: First of all, I want to properly focus on my performance so as to contribute to the team as much as I can, and I want to control myself even more so than for a normal competition and put out a good performance. Also, regarding the short [program], I think it’s a program that can be enjoyed in some way, even in the current [state of] the world. Even if it’s just a little bit, I want to skate it with the hope that there’s something that can lift our spirits.



―What will you do about the quad Axel?

Y: Well, I feel that in the first place, with this schedule [in the past few weeks], as expected it might be impossible to try challenging the [quad] Axel. As for the actual competition, as I said before, I am very eager to put out a good performance, even more so than for a normal [non-team] competition. So, rather than prioritizing my own feelings, I first and foremost want to do a performance that will be of help to everyone else [on the team]. 



―What did you feel after finishing World Championships [last month], as you had a lot of conflict within you when participating?

Y: Hmm, well on the way home, the airport was really empty. I actually received a [health] inspection there, and had to do the various procedures for entering the country. While I was doing those things, I didn’t really get told “Congratulations,” about my results [at World Championships], but, rather, I was told things like “I received courage from watching your performance,” and also “I can do my best [too],” and the fact I received those words are, for me, more than anything, the prize, or reward [this time]. Somehow, in doing those kinds of performances, it really holds a totally different meaning for me each and every time, and so I skate with different feelings too. So, even if it’s only a little bit, I want to skate my performance this time as its own unique thing.

Photo by Sponichi




Following the victory of golfer Hideki Matsuyama, did you draw any motivation from his brilliant feat?*

Y: To tell you the truth I actually watched a bit of it live. It was very early in the morning but I watched a little of the live broadcast. I wasn’t able to quite catch the final moment he prevailed but for about 9 holes**, I watched and cheered him on every day. Actually, as someone from Sendai, I’ve met him before when we were being acknowledged as representatives of Sendai and of Miyagi. Not as Yuzuru Hanyu but as a fellow Sendai resident and Miyagi local, I’m really, really proud. I really, really understand how difficult of a feat it must be to conquer the Masters as a Japanese person in the golfing world. More than words like ‘congratulations’ or ‘that’s amazing,’ I feel like he has truly made his mark as “Hideki Matsuyama” in the Japanese golfing world. 

*Hideki Matsuyama recently became the first-ever Japanese professional golfer to win a men’s major golf championship – the 2021 Masters Tournament

**The Masters tournament happens over 4 days with 18 holes played per day, so Yuzu watched about half the competition (not 100% clear if he did so every day of the tournament or only on the last day). Despite struggling on the last day, Matsuyama held onto his lead to prevail.



The swimmer [Rikako] Ikee also made a competitive comeback

Y: I think someone like me really can’t be compared to the difficulty she experienced*. Of course, there may also be people who think that other athletes also gave their all but weren’t rewarded. I had many periods during the Pyeongchang Olympic season where I couldn’t practice due to the severe injury I had, but when I heard Ikee-senshuu say that ‘hard work and effort will be rewarded’, I felt once again that hard work doesn’t only come from practice and training. It was precisely because of Ikee’s circumstances – the pain she experienced, the sadness and that sense of loss, that I think she fought with all her might to get through those days. I would like her to have faith in herself in her challenge at the Olympics. Please permit me to say that, as someone who has experienced the Olympics. Apologies for saying so in such a commanding way. 

*Rikako Ikee was diagnosed with leukemia in 2019 and has recently qualified for the Tokyo Olympics after receiving treatment. 



What was the practice situation like during the quarantine period?

Y: Well, I was in the hotel the entire time. Basically I went back and forth between the hotel and rink every day. Though I suppose that isn’t too different from what I usually do. Um… I basically lived by going via a private car from the hotel to the rink, and then after practice going via private car from the rink back to the hotel. Um. If you asked if that was sufficient practice, I would have to truthfully say it wasn’t, but I am truly grateful they took the steps to be able to allow us to do practice in that way, and I’m skating right now because of the attention paid to those arrangements, so I would like to properly carry out my duty here. Thank you very much. 

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We are the Axel with Wings translation team, made up of fans of Yuzuru Hanyu. We hope to share videos of him and Japanese figure skating content with more people around the world. We aim to do our best to accurately capture the spirit of what's said. Hope you enjoy our videos and other contents.

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