Eng subbed video to come later
Host (H): Next is a special figure skating segment. There are only 5 days left until the All Japan National Championships, which will decide the Olympic team. Within those athletes, this athlete’s challenge is the focus of many.
H: Yes, it’s Hanyu-senshu, who has vowed to succeed at the 4A this season. Is this a feat achievable by mankind? We investigated this possibility from 3 points of view.
Narrator (N): The absolute champion, Yuzuru Hanyu. From repeating as the double Olympic champion onwards, he’s continued to carve out historical achievements one after another. Right now, the great target he’s aiming towards is to land the unprecedented quadruple Axel. The Axel jump is the only jump in figure skating with a forward takeoff. It’s a difficult jump that requires one to return to the fear of directly facing your field of vision and requires half an extra rotation. If he succeeds, he will land the world’s first quadruple Axel. This alone is what is stirring Hanyu’s spirit.
Yuzuru (Y): Breaking the limit (laughs). In a way, I think of the 4A as a ‘wall’ that humans have created up until now. I’ve created it myself, and I want to overcome it. I think it’s probably the current limit for us figure skaters. I want to write the ‘chapter’ of surpassing it.
N: He seriously started working towards [the 4A] in the 2018-19 season, after his second Olympic victory. The camera has not captured this hard work but instead, Hanyu told us about the difficulty of the 4A over and over again.
Y: It feels like doing a long jump while rotating at the same time.
Y: The trajectory when jumping the quad Axel is completely different to the one when doing the triple Axel.
Y: I can visualise it. Properly. I’ve landed it in my dreams.
Y: I’m tasting the frustration and the feeling of despair from day to day from not being able to land it but…
N: Even for the absolute champion, he had not been able to overcome this challenge in three years. This ‘wall’ is truly high.
Can the quadruple Axel be jumped? We sought the opinions of three specialists.
N: He had challenged the jump himself in the past and knows its difficulty well: pro skater, Takahito Mura.
Mura (M): The feeling while in the air is both longer and more forceful, completely different and unique compared to jumping other quads or the triple Axel so far. Firstly, in order to simply achieve the rotations, you must build up your physical ability.
N: The absolutely essential condition is to strengthen the base: the body. However, the progress in this area seemed to already be felt at last year’s Japanese Nationals.
M: When he picks to take off for a quadruple jump, usually he’ll skate relaxed, then tighten and take off like ‘pon’. When he changed his training and re-built his body, it felt like he suddenly took another step up in an instant. When I saw that, I thought ‘wow, amazing.’ That was probably because he was finally getting to a point of being familiar with the [quadruple] Axel.
N: The one who looked into the data was Professor Sakurai from Toin University of Yokohama.
What he was researching, from Ice Scope data that measures the jump height and distance, was the angle of the jump.
Sakurai (S): This is the triple Axel but his distance was 3m 20cm and the height was 64cm, which means that he was taking off at an angle of 22-23 degrees. I was surprised at this. The world record for long jump was also around this angle. This is the ‘optimal angle’ for achieving distance in a jump.
N: The record American Mike Powell set [for long jump] in 1991 – 8.95m – was achieved with this virtually identical ‘optimal angle’. This is in Hanyu’s grasp.
Y: Yes, I think the height can’t be more than 80cm and the distance probably can’t be more than 4m.
S: Yes, it’s virtually the same angle. The data aligns exactly. Therefore, jumping at this angle, it’s better to think of how to take off while jumping far.
N: Finally, there’s this legend who fired up Hanyu’s challenger’s spirit.
Y: Isn’t Uchimura-san super cool? Being able to land a H level skill. Even if he had to focus only on the horizontal bars, he was able to continue competing. [When I compare myself to Uchimura], I think I’m still pretty young, that I can still keep going.
N: In fact, the hero of the gymnastics world is deeply interested in the quadruple Axel
Uchimura (U): Looking at [the 4A] from the perspective of a gymnast, thinking about how I should be watching it, I got really obsessed and really went back and forth [on the video]. When I first watched it, I was thinking ‘this isn’t something humans can do’.
Isn’t it a bit insane??
N: With a level of difficulty that Uchimura was not expecting, how would the king go about tackling this?
U: I don’t know much about figure skating so it’s a poor analysis but his highest point is here. If he twists a little more prior to this point…
Gymnastics is a skill where we are twisting as soon as possible.
N: Even though gymnastics and figure skating both involve the twisting of the body [to rotate], they use the body in different ways.
U: Are his upper and lower body a little too synchronised? In gymnastics, we are led by the upper body – the lower body follows the upper. His upper body… if he twisted it a little earlier, I think his lower body would follow it like ‘boom!’ But after all, if it’s not high enough, he can’t twist sufficiently but if he can jump a little further, he’ll get a little more flight distance and be able to rotate…
Interviewer: [Hanyu] said balancing the two was difficult
U: Yes. I really understand. I haven’t done it, but I get it (laughs)
U: Humans can’t overcome [the 4A]. Only Hanyu-kun can.
N: A challenge that will rewrite human history. Where can one find the place of success for the 4A? The defending champion facing his first competition of the season, this year Hanyu will stand on the All Japan National Championship stage once again.
H: You could say, in a sense, that he is also continuing to challenge the limits but Uchimura’s words certainly seem to be filled with enthusiasm doesn’t it? Once again, these are the words from the three people who are exploring the possibility of a 4A from Hanyu-senshu
Mura: Even with reduced speed, the quad is possible
Sakurai: The ultimate angle to release longest flight distance
Uchimura: Twist the upper body first
H: Uchimura-senshu is looking at it from the viewpoint of gymnastics, it feels like perhaps the viewpoint from a different sport may be a good impetus somehow.
H: Yes, what he calls prioritising the upper body…