[ENG TRANSLATION] The first great conversation: Yuzuru Hanyu x Rikako Ikee article preview – 210713

Preview article originally published 13 July 2021. Note that this is not the full article.

Source: https://number.bunshun.jp/articles/-/848840

Translation: @axelsandwich 
Proofreading: @shinjistarxx

 東京オリンピックを間近に控えたある日、東京と仙台を結んでのビッグ対談が、雑誌Number「オリンピック開幕直前特集」で実現した。

As we draw closer to the Tokyo Olympics, a ‘great exchange’ that connects Tokyo and Sendai took place in this special Pre-Olympics Numbers edition. 

 今夏、再び祭典の場に姿を現す水泳の申し子、池江璃花子と、冬の王者、羽生結弦の初顔合わせである。

This is the first face-to-face meeting between the golden child of swimming, who has once more taken to the competitive stage, Rikako Ikee, and the champion of Winter, Yuzuru Hanyu.

 ふたりには、オリンピアンであるということ以外にも、大きな共通点があった。それに気づいていたのは羽生結弦のほうだった。

Besides both being Olympians, the two share another significant commonality. The one who noticed this was Yuzuru Hanyu.

 対談の冒頭から、池江に対して、「若いのにいろいろなものを背負って頑張ってるなとずっと思っていて。ご自身の病気のことはもちろん、他の病気にかかった人を勇気づけたいとか、元気になってほしいというものまで全部。そんなに背負わなくてもいいんじゃないかなと思いつつ、背負っているから強いんだろうなとも」と気遣いを見せた。

From the outset of the conversation, he showed his concern for Ikee, saying, ‘I’ve felt this whole time that though she’s young, she’s had to shoulder the weight of various things and has worked really hard. Of course, there was dealing with her own illness*, but also wanting to give courage to others who were also sick and wanting to get better, all of those things. While I feel that she doesn’t have to bear all of that weight, it’s perhaps because she’s carried these burdens that she is strong.’

*Ikee was diagnosed with leukemia at 19yrs old in February 2019. 

 池江は、それにこう答える。「確かに背負わなくていいことまで背負っている気は自分でもしています。復帰してからは、病気した人代表みたいなものをすべてのレースで感じていました」

Ikee replied: ‘It’s true that I’m carrying the knowledge that I shouldn’t shoulder these burdens. After recovering, I’ve felt at all races that I’m almost like a representative for those who have been ill.’

羽生「当時はすごく重たく思っていた」

 大病を患い、昨年復帰。みるみると競技者としての回復を見せた池江が、人知れず背負っていたもの。羽生は遠いところからもそれを察していた。なぜなら、自分も避けられない天命により、いまもなお、重りを背負っているからだ。

Hanyu: “I think at the time, it weighed on me very heavily.”

The worry of the illness and the recovery last year. Ikee, who seemed to recover and return as a competitor in the blink of an eye, had been shouldering burdens unbeknownst to others. From afar, Hanyu could sympathise with this. It’s because even now, he has also been shouldering a heavy weight that fate had laid upon him. 

「僕も、16歳の時に東日本大震災があって、やっぱりあれからすごくいろいろなものを背負い始めたなと感じていて。

“For me too, since the 3/11 disaster happened when I was sixteen, I feel that from that time, I had started to really shoulder these various things.”

 今も、東日本大震災の支援や復興に関する依頼はなるべく受けるようにしているのですが、当時はすごく重たく思っていました。大震災という天災が起きて、急に、被災地で頑張っている人間だから(日本代表に)選ばれているんだ、というように思われるのは、すごく悔しかった」

“Even now, I try wherever possible to accept requests to help out with [financial] support and recovery in the affected region, but at the time I thought of it as an incredibly heavy weight. The natural disaster suddenly happened and then when it was thought that I was chosen to be the representative of Japan [in figure skating] only because I was someone doing my best in the affected disaster area, I felt very frustrated.”

 冬季オリンピックで2連覇している羽生を前に、少し緊張気味の池江だったが、優しさと温かさ、時に強さを交えて語りかける王者に自身も心を開いていく。

Though she was initially a little tense and nervous in front of the two-time Winter Olympic champion, through a combination of the kindness, warmth and especially strength conveyed through Hanyu’s words to her, Ikee also was able to open up. 

 そして話題は、オリンピックの心構え、最近もっとも悔しかったこと、一人で泣くとき、今乗り越えようとしている課題など、トップアスリート同士だからこそ語り合える内容に及んでいく――。

In addition, the conversation topics included how to prepare for the Olympics, recent and past frustrations and regrets, times when they cried alone, and how to overcome those difficulties now. It’s because they are both top athletes that they could trade notes on all these topics. 

 いつまでも聞いていたい、珠玉の対談だった。

It’s a gem of a conversation you’d want to listen to, anywhere and anytime. 

[ENG TRANSLATION] Yuzuru Hanyu, Dreams on Ice Day 1 Interview – 210709

Photo by Sponichi

All articles originally published 9 July 2021

Part 1 | Part 2 

Translation & proofreading: @shinjistarxx & @axelsandwich 

PART 1

フィギュアスケートのアイスショー「ドリーム・オン・アイス」が9日、横浜市のKOSE新横浜スケートセンターで行われ、男子で14年ソチ、18年平昌五輪連覇の羽生結弦(ANA)が6年ぶりに出演を果たし、「マスカレイド」を披露。新シーズンをスタートさせた。以下は、代表取材による一問一答。

The ice show “Dreams on Ice” was held on the 9th at Kose Shin-Yokohama Skate Center in Yokohama. Sochi ‘14 and Pyeongchang ‘18 gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu (ANA) took part for the first time in six years, unveiling his program “Masquerade,” starting off a new season. The interview questions with him are as follows.

 ――6年ぶりのDOI出演となった。

 「えっと、やはり皆さんの前で滑りたい思いが強くありました。昨年、アイスショーがなくて、もっと皆さんの前で滑りたかったなっていうふうに思ったのと。あと、自分が昨シーズン、自分が試合に出るたびに思った、自分が演技することで何か誰かの役に立つんじゃないかとか。何かを感じていただけるんじゃないかとか。そういったことを皆さんのために少しでもやりたいと思って。少しでも多くの場所で、機会で滑りたいなというふうに思い、今回ドリーム・オン・アイスに出させていただきました」

― (Your thoughts on) This being your first appearance at DOI in six years.

Yuzuru: Um, well, I strongly felt that I wanted to skate in front of everyone. Last year there weren’t ice shows, and so I wanted to skate more in front of an audience. Also, last season when I participated in competitions, I thought that perhaps my performances could be useful for someone; that perhaps they could feel something from it. So with that in mind, I wanted to try for everyone’s sake. I want to take the opportunity to skate in as many places as possible, so I decided to participate in Dreams on Ice this time.

 ――実際にパワーをもらえたか。

 「もちろん僕自身はたくさんもらえたんですけど。僕はいただいて、その力をまた演技に変えて、皆さんにまた違った形で恩返しできたらなと思っているので。今は既に1公演でヘトヘトですけど、少しでも皆さんの何かの感情のきっかけになったらいいなと思います」

― Did you actually receive power [through this?]

Y: Of course, I personally received a lot [of power]. I received it and then changed it into power for my performance, and maybe everyone watching will pass this on in turn in another form. I’m already exhausted after this one performance so I hope this may be the impetus for some sort of emotion in everyone. 

 ――最大の目標ではる4回転半の状況は。

 「まずこのドリーム・オン・アイス、僕の中では久しぶりに1日2公演あるアイスショーですので。かなり体をつくって、このアイスショーに焦点を絞って練習しなくてはいけないなと思い。そこまで4Aの練習はできていません。ただ、スターズ・オン・アイスが終わって、体のダメージだとか。昨シーズン頑張ってきた体をいたわりつつ、アクセルの基礎の練習だったり、1から自分が作り直して、4回転半に向けて作り直す作業をしっかりできたらというので、これからにシーズンに向けて本格的に練習していきたいと思います」

― What is the current state of the quad Axel, which you cited as your ultimate goal right now?

Y: Firstly, Dreams on Ice is the first ice show in awhile where I’ve had to do two performances in one day. I thought that I must prepare my body and focus on this ice show so I haven’t been able to practise my quad Axel until now. After Stars on Ice, there was the toll that it took on my body, the need to take care of my body that had worked hard last season, there was practice on the foundations of the axel, and the need to do the work to properly rebuild my body for the quad Axel from square one; I’d like to start concretely practising for the season ahead from here on out. 

 ――今季のプログラム、SPは決まったか。

 「曲は決まっている。ただ、実際に音源はできていないですし。まだ発表できません」

― Regarding next season’s programs, have you decided on your SP?

Y: The music is decided. But, the editing is not done, so I cannot announce it yet.

 ――フリーは継続か。

 「はい、フリーは『天と地と』を継続したいなというふうに思います」

― Will the free program [from last season] continue on?

Y: Yes, I am thinking I want to keep the free (program) “Ten to Chi to”.

Photo by Sponichi

PART 2

――2季ぶりにGPシリーズ出場を決めた理由は。

 「試合の機会がないと、やはり4回転半決めても意味がないと思いますし。試合で決めたいなという気持ちが強くあって。その機会を少しでも持てたらいいなというふうに思い、グランプリシリーズに出場することを決めました」

― What is the reason you decided to compete in the GP Series again after two seasons?

Yuzuru: Without the chance to be in competition, I think even if I land the quad Axel, it’s pointless. I strongly feel I want to land it in competition. I thought that I should take as many opportunities as I can in that regard, and so I decided to participate in the Grand Prix series [this season]. 

 ――出場NHK杯、ロシア杯に決まった。

 「NHK杯が決まった段階で、必然的にロシアになるか、カナダになるか、中国になるか、みたいな感じがあったので。僕は世界選手権3位の人間なので、決定権は特になかったです」

― You decided on NHK Trophy and Rostelecom Cup [for your GP competitions]

Y: When they decided I would compete at the NHK Trophy, I felt it would definitely be either Rostelecom Cup, Skate Canada or the Cup of China. I was 3rd at the World Championships so I didn’t have any particular say in it.  

 ――改めて北京五輪への思いは

 「平昌シーズンみたく、絶対に金メダル獲りたいという気持ちは特にありません。ただ、必ず今シーズンで4回転半を決めるんだという強い意志はあります。しっかりと、その意志を、決意を持って今シーズン挑みたいなと思っています」

―Once again, what are your thoughts on the Beijing Olympics?

Y: I don’t particularly have the same feelings that I absolutely must get the gold medal like I did during the season of Pyeongchang (Olympics). However, I am very determined to definitely land the quad Axel this season. I will take up that challenge this season with that resolve and determination.

 ――その先にあるものか。

 「道の中にあるのであれば。ただ、うーん。やはり先ほども言ったように平昌シーズンだったり、ソチだったり。そうった時みたいな熱量はないなというふうに自分の中では思っています」

― Is [the Beijing Olympics] something beyond that goal?

Y: If it happens to be part of the journey [towards the 4A]. It’s just…hm. Like I said before, I feel I don’t have the same degree of passion or fervour that I did at the time of Sochi or Pyeongchang. 

 ――マスカレイドを演じた理由は

 「なかなかこのプログラムを演じられる機会がなかったですし。ただ、なんか、あの時とは違って、もっと大人になって、もっと表現したいものだったり、もっと客観的に感じてもらえるものがこの世の中だからこそ増えたんじゃないかなというふうに思い、自分の中で演じたいなというふうに思ってこのプログラムにさせていただきました」

― What is the reason you performed “Masquerade” today?

Y: Well, I haven’t had many chances to perform this program. But also, since that time [I first did the program], I’ve become more of an adult, and I think there is more I want to express, and given the current state of the world, there is more I think that can be objectively felt from the program, so with those thoughts in mind, I wanted to perform it again, so I chose this program.

 ――拠点は国内なのか。

 「まず、カナダにかえるためには大変な手続きがあるのと。可能か不可能か自分の中で確証はないので分からないんですけど、とりあえず、自分の中では昨シーズンの経験を踏まえて日本で1人で練習しても成長できるということを感じているので。今のところカナダに帰ることは考えていません。ただ、振付に関してリモートで、と考えてはいます」

― Will your training base this season be in Japan?

Y: First, in order to return to Canada now, there are many difficult procedures involved. I’m not certain whether it is even possible or not, but for the time being, based on my experiences from last season, I feel that I can grow even if training on my own, so I am not thinking of returning to Canada at the moment. However, I think with regards to the choreography, that it will be done with remote assistance [from Canada].

 ――東京五輪が無観客開催となったが、どう感じているか。

 「僕は選手の立場なので。はっきり言ってしまえば、観客が…観客の方々が直接声援を送っていただけるとか、足を運んでいただけるとか。そういったことに声を上げることは僕はできないんじゃないかなと。ただ、選手の立場から言わせていただけるのであれば、オリンピックは選手にとっての夢の舞台であり、競技によっては最後の、一番ほしい夢の舞台だと思います。その舞台で一生懸命やることには変わりないと思いますし。なんか、こんな時だからこそ、僕らだったら演技って言っちゃうんですけど、こんな時だからこそのレースであったり、こんな時だからこその感動が生まれるのではないかなと思います」

― The upcoming Tokyo Olympics has been decided to be held without spectators. How do you feel about this?

Y: I am coming from the standpoint of an athlete. To put it bluntly, the audience…in regards to whether the audience can convey their support or travel [to watch] in person, I can’t really speak to that. But if I can speak from an athlete’s standpoint, the Olympics are a dream stage for many athletes, I think the final dream stage they long for the most. I don’t think the fact they will give everything they have on that stage will change. It’s the fact that it’s during times like this – we [skaters] call it a ‘performance’ – but I think it’s precisely because it’s during these [difficult] times that [watching events like] races and whatnot can result in something touching and emotional.

Yuzuru Hanyu: an exhaustive introduction (2017 ~ 2020)

Originally posted on Tumblr by Lae (@axelsandwich)

YUZURU HANYU IN 8 SECONDS: A SUMMARY

Okay, so I just watched like 20 clips you linked above but who tf is Yuzuru Hanyu??

  • Factual info you could probably Wikipedia but are too lazy to do so: Yuzuru Hanyu is a Japanese figure skater from Sendai, born 7 December 1994 who competes in the men’s singles discipline. He is the two time Olympic champion, holds 19 world records (and counting) and is the only male figure skater to achieve the Super Slam or Career Super Grand Slam, meaning he’s won both major junior-level international competitions (World Junior Championships, Junior Grand Prix Final) and all four major senior-level international competitions at any point during the course of a career. Among many other firsts, he is credited with being the first skater to land a quadruple loop in competition and the first to break the 100 (SP), 200 (FS) and 300 (total score) points barriers in the +/-3GOE and +/-5GOE scoring system. He was also the first Japanese person to win two consecutive winter Olympic singles championships and the first male figure skater in 66 years in the entire world to win two consecutive Olympic men’s singles championships in the designated games.
  • PSA: YUZURU HANYU IS NOT THE MODEL FOR YUURI KATSUKI FROM YURI ON ICE (yuuri katsuki is canonically based on tatsuki machida thank u)
  • He is also the youngest recipient of Japan’s People’s Honor Award, which is one of the most prestigious civilian honours in Japan. The People’s Honor Award established in 1977 has been given to 25 individuals and one group for their achievements in sports, entertainment and culture, whose distinguished achievements have brought the light of hope to society. And he did so wearing a beautiful (Interview after his award here)
  • As of 2020, he graduated from studying Human Informatics and Cognitive Sciences at Waseda University, which is one of the most prestigious universities in Japan (which also basically makes him a massive maths nerd). His graduation thesis was about Motion Capture Technology Applied to Figure Skating and Its Prospects on Scoring, in which he used himself as a test subject because…well, duh, he’s the best in the field (see here for some more details on his graduation and here for translations for some parts of his thesis). This is incidentally where the inside joke: Yuzuru Hanyu for Yuzuru Hanyu by Yuzuru Hanyu in collaboration with Yuzuru Hanyu came from (are we wrong?!)
  • Incidentally, he did his entrance exam while competing at the Grand Prix Final 2012 and documentaries reported that he was always top 5 in his class at academics during high school as well — in his own words: ‘first is first’ and his parents always stressed that he has to have more than just skating (this kid was away the day God handed out laziness and procrastination I s2g)
  • Japanese media (especially in sendai) basically filmed him growing up and called him a young prodigy so we’re lucky to have footage of chipmunk-cheeked yuzu with his (flying) mushroom hair from all the way back then 
    • Look at this tiny bean
    • He was interviewed in Ice Rink Sendai with Japan’s other figure skating gold medallist Shizuka Arakawa. to quote, when asked “Can you become a gold medallist too?”, he said “Probably”. and then he went and did exactly that.
    • He would get into fights with his rinkmates, used to ball up skate rink magazine flyers to hit like a baseball and basically had a 5min attention span after which he would get bored
  • Get you a man that loves you like the entire city of Sendai loves Yuzuru
    • Yuzuru held 2 victory parades after his two Olympic gold medals in which he stood on a bus and waved at a crowd of 80k in 2014 and 100k people in 2018. Honestly it was the most amazing thing, and then also the streets were CLEAN AS HELL after, we stan respectful fans!
    • The 2018 parade generated $1.86 BILLION YEN economic impact or $16M USD (!!!) and he donated the $22M yen profit to support the local skating federation
    • Their cheer video for sochi and pyeongchang for him is the sweetest thing you’ll ever see
    • There is an unspoken rule when he goes home to Sendai that people will treat him like an ordinary person and not a celebrity and though paparazzi etc. still happens, it is mostly respected and we should 10000% keep it that way.
    • He has no known social media channels and is proficient at disappearing completely like a ninja and subjecting his fans to radio silence for months on end (often because he’s injured but…more on that later). The ongoing joke is that you will usually only know Yuzuru is alive (and exists) through analysing blurs that look like him in the background of social media posts from skaters he trains with or photos with small children at places he trains with (only with small children though)
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‘Pooh rain’ is the cutest damn thing you’ll ever see

single-handedly keeping the winnie the pooh soft toy industry alive.  

  • You’ve probably seen this exhaustively covered in the media, especially Western media during the Olympics because that’s all they ever seem curious about, which is partly why I wrote this intro post because there is so much more to yuzuru
  • However, the ‘Pooh rain’ is really amazing to witness live, an experience like no other
  • Why Pooh? This is because he’s had a pooh tissue box cover since he was young, given by his parents and he calls Pooh-san his friend and coach and comforting to him because his expression is always calm and never changes. You will see Pooh-san on the boards at every competition, loyally watching over Yuzu
  • Why do people throw Pooh bears at him? there’s a tradition to throw flowers and toys as a gesture of appreciation after a skater’s performance in figure skating and…well, lots of people appreciate yuzuru ; )
  • (But also consider throwing things like pokeballs, tokyo ghoul plushies, GOAT plushies and earphone plushies at him people, let’s get some creativity in this house!)
  • Disney-senpai finally noticed him in 2018
  • He donates all the toys he gets to local orphanages and charities
  • Here’s an account from a doctor who witnessed the donations coming in!
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little flower collections smiling at all the Poohs is one of my favourite things

You thought your favourite TV show was dramatic? Welcome to Yuzuru Hanyu’s entire life

  • Yuzuru was a victim of the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami and lived in an emergency shelter with his family for about four days after. he spent the summer afterwards skating 60 different ice shows to raise money for the victims. he lost his home rink because of the earthquake and so would go to the show rinks early to use the ice to practice as much as he could ): 
    • It’s heartbreaking that he’s still very affected by the memories. he’s said he doesn’t take anything for granted and is always grateful to have a rink to skate on, and the impact he had on the survivors had a profound effect on his skating
    • Consider Yuzuru being a 16yr old teenager suddenly thrust into the position of being this symbol of hope for the entire disaster and feeling the weight to carry that on his shoulders – it was not an easy journey, let alone for someone so young but he handled it with so much grace
  • It is REALLY IMPORTANT to know that the main reason for fan heart attacks and most of the non-3/11 skating-related drama in Yuzuru’s life is because he’s dealt with a distressing number of injuries, illnesses and misfortunes in his skating life but has somehow managed to come back and succeed in spite of them. In his own words, his skating life is “like a roller coaster” and… yeah, your shounen manga has nothing on him. I’m serious.
    • His home rink in Sendai (Ice Rink Sendai) actually shut twice, first during primary school because of financial difficulties – he commuted several hours to Wakayama every week to continue skating – and then, only a few years after the home rink reopened, 3/11 struck and closed the rink again due to repairs. It’s because of this that Yuzuru never takes for granted the fact he has a rink to skate in and always touches the ice when entering and exiting the rink partly to thank it.
    • After the 3/11 disaster, he relocated with his mother to Toronto to start training at the Toronto Cricket and Curling Club with new coaches, thereby being separated from his hometown and family long term. He suffered several untimely injuries in his junior days and also for example right before the 2013 World Championships, meaning he skated with a sprained ankle because he felt responsibility as the newly crowned Japanese National Champion to help Japan qualify for 3 spots at the Sochi Olympics. He did end up preserving 3 spots with Japan’s other representatives.
    • Right after his golden slam year of winning the Olympic Gold, World Championships and Grand Prix Final in 2013-14, in his first competition and season as the newly minted Olympic champion, a really scary accident happened at Cup of China in 2014 where Yuzuru collided with fellow competitor Han Yan in the 6min warmup before his Free Skate. He decided to skate anyway because he wanted to qualify for the Grand Prix Final and felt responsibility to do so as the Olympic champion. The debate rages on even now about whether he should have done so, that it was unacceptable that the ISU didn’t have any protocol in place about qualifying for GPF in the event of accidents (which is a figure skating-wide problem as many skaters have been pushed or elected to continue to skate after horrible accidents). But Yuzuru did indeed go out and do that, falling on almost all of his jumps but showing the sort of fighting spirit you will see in Yuzuru again and again.
      • Many Yuzuru fans consider the accident and his subsequent free skate a legitimately traumatic incident, especially those who witnessed it live, so we really don’t encourage footage of the Cup of China to be shared, at least without a warning or glorifying it as ‘something out of an anime’. Just please be sensitive ;;
    • He then came back a month later to win the Grand Prix Final 2014 for the 2nd year in a row, in a true feat of triumph and grit
    • It was annus horribilis for Yuzu that year because he then had abdominal pain and surgery right after winning Japanese Nationals in 2014 – he was literally rushed to hospital right after the Free Skate and didn’t even get to attend the ceremony where the Worlds representatives were announced
    • The chapter from his autobiography Aoi Honoo II reads literally like a body horror story
    • And after spending a month recuperating, he still managed to win a silver medal at Worlds 2014
  • This is why we don’t talk about Boston Worlds 2016. Yuzuru skated the World Championships while hiding a lisfranc injury that he thought – at the time – could end his career. That entire summer afterwards, no one knew whether he would ever return to competition…but he did. Debuting a new quad.
    • The chapter from his autobiography Aoi Honoo II talks about that experience. Uhh…yeah sorry about your heart clenching, you’ll get used to that
    • It’s important to note he skated his iconic Chopin/Seimei 2015 Grand Prix Final programs WITH THAT INJURY (more on those programs later)
  • He came back at the start of the 2016-2017 season after almost an entire summer of complete radio silence and became the first in the world to land the quadruple loop in his first competition back. He went on to win his 4th Grand Prix Final title in a row and the World Championships in Helsinki in 2017 after being 5th after a mistake in the Short Program (an unthinkable result), skating a perfect program with four quads and breaking the Free Skate world record along the way. It was sublime. Yeah. being his fan is always a roller coaster
  • At the start of the 2017-18 Olympic season, Yuzuru returned to debut the quadruple lutz at his first Grand Prix competition and then missed almost the entire 2017-2018 Olympic season after he severely injured his ankle while practising the 4Lz in practice at the NHK Trophy, while running a fever.
    • He then proceeded to disappear completely and utterly from the public eye for almost three months to recover from the injury, with the clock ticking down to the Pyeongchang Olympics in February 2018. He skipped the team Olympic event and made his COMEBACK SKATE FROM INJURY after 3 months of no competitions, 1 month of prep and while on legal painkillers at the individual mens event of the Pyeongchang Olympics…. AND FRIKKIN WON HIS SECOND OLYMPIC GOLD (more down the page)
    • His fans made him a banner after his Olympic season injury during those 3mths and delivered it to TCC. It’s a beautiful thing ;; _ ;;
  • He then…injured himself again for the 2018-19 season in the second Grand Prix of the season, made the conscious decision to go out and skate anyway, won the event and showed up to the victory ceremony on crutches. He made a comeback at the World Championships 2019 on painkillers yet again and still managed to get a silver medal, after months off the ice.
  • Just as he had a rare injury-free season for 2019-20 (though he also competed in a gruelling 3 competitions in 3 continents in 5 weeks and by the end wasn’t even sure what timezone he was in and also his coach had his passport stolen on his way through Germany for GPF so he was unexpectedly alone for the SP) and secured his Super Grand Slam, COVID-19 struck which meant the World Championships 2020 in Montreal and subsequent summer of ice shows was cancelled. Yuzuru withdrew from the Grand Prix series citing health risks and concern for the safety of his team and his fans and emphasised the need to do his role to reduce the risk of spreading the infection. 10 months later in December 2020, having trained in Japan alone without his coaches who were still in Canada, he made a comeback to secure his 5th National title and break all domestic records with two new programs.

So what is Yuzuru Hanyu’s brand, you ask?

This. This is his brand.
Also this.
  • But also for being the sweetest kid ever. And also galaxy-brained.
  • He is truly SUPER polite wherever he goes
  • Mr Worldwide (he thanked reporters at the Olympics in five languages)
  • JPN TV basically had entire TV segments where they were like ‘OBSERVE HIS GOD-LIKE BEHAVIOUR’. It continues to this day
  • He has a particular knack for remembering many people he’s met over his life and thanking them for their support or referencing stuff they’ve done; several JP TV hosts and media personalities have been visibly surprised (and delighted) by how much he knows about them. There was one time he randomly congratulated a reporter on her engagement or thanked journalists for writing articles about him completely unprompted. He sees all.
    • *elbows everyone out of the way* SPEAKING OF JAPANESE MEDIA WHO LOVE HIM, please see below on Nobunari Oda and Matsuoka Shuzo
  • Holding open doors for people
  • Helping people repair the rink after competitions (he regularly does this, even now)
  • My favourite in-depth and extended interviews with Yuzu are his press conferences with the foreign correspondents club in japan after his Olympic victories, he really lets his intelligence and thoughtfulness shine here in particular. They talk about a LOT of topics but it’s worth the full watch:
  • Yuzuru is known for a seemingly endless appetite for improvement, evolution and continually challenging himself
    • His favourite word: kuyashii (ie. frustrated). To the point where – when he said he was not feeling kuyashii at all after his Olympic victory and wants to just skate for his own pleasure, everyone was like did he get replaced by an imposter (one somewhat struggle-street Autumn Classic International competition later…he was like ‘there’s no point if I don’t win’ LOL)
    • One of my favourite interviews of him ever was right after his broke all 3 world records and went over 200 and 300 for the FS and total competition score for the first time at NHK 2015. 

      “[On losing to Patrick Chan at Skate Canada & the fact he was practising during gala rehearsal where everyone else was chilling] I thought I want to improve, even here right now.  Patrick was nearby and it was a really good motivation.   It’s like, ‘Watch me.’  I will definitely practise all kinds of jumps and I will grow for sure.  I will win the next time for sure, I have been practising with that in mind.”  

      Then 3 weeks later, at NHK Trophy, he had a different layout.

      Yuzu:  This is not related to Patrick anymore.  I was really fired up this time. Boyang Jin got 95 points in SP, right?  When I saw that score, I thought, wow NO MISTAKES!!  He gave the best of his abilities!  OH YES!!!!

      Shuzo: You didn’t think OH NO!!!  You thought OH YES????

      Yuzu:  I thought “It’s here!!!“  Since I was a child, I have never liked winning a competition when others made mistakes.  Everyone skates to their best, but I still come first, above all.  That is what I like. I like pushing myself to the edge—.”

      (translation cr: yuzusorbet)

      It says volumes about his competitive mentality.
    • This is also iconic AF. ‘In your mind, what do you mean by wanting to win with a commanding lead?’

      (Matsuoka Shuzo’s face is a MOOD)
  • He actually has a published quote book of cool things he’s said in interviews since he was a newly minted senior. Here’s a partial translation series I started doing in Olympic season and here’s the newest version.
    • There’s a chance some of these are inspired by anime protagonists. This season he’s been talking about overcoming a ‘tall wall’ and there being ‘walls and doors’. ((Yuzuru, do you watch Haikyuu?!))
How does the skating world regard him?

Did I mention he happens to be pretty good at figure skating? 

  • He’s broken the world record 18 times and counting, most of them his own records (the video is his reaction to the first 11)
  • He’s the first man in 66yrs since Dick Button to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals in mens figure skating (Sochi 2014 and Pyeongchang 2018)
  • Completed his Super Slam in February 2020. Hilariously, while most skaters complete their slam with an Olympic gold medal, he already had TWO before he won Four Continents, which was the competition missing from the Slam list (he missed out on several due to injury and had silvers for the other two). Just Yuzu things.
  • Holds all 3 historical figure skating world records for Short Program, Free Program and Total Score under the +/-3GOE system (the rule system was changed in 2018 and records reset). He was the first to break 100, 200, 300 points barrier in the new +/-5GOE system as well
  • Remained at number one in the world standings for the entire Olympic cycle since 2013 despite aforementioned heart-attack-inducing injuries and illnesses
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I cannot emphasise HOW FRIKKIN #YOLO HIS 2018 OLYMPIC SEASON WAS. LIKE STOP. WALK WITH ME HERE. 

So Yuzuru has been wanting this medal literally for ENTIRE LIFE, which he has planned since he was a novice skater and had seriously begun planning since right after he won the gold in Sochi. this plan had to be adjusted along the way due to the truly distressing number of injuries, illnesses and misfortunes he sustained during the last quad from 2014 – 2017 (his Olympic athlete profile has PARAGRAPHS dedicated to all his injuries – and note these are only the post-2014 ones).

But Yuzuru started the 2017-18 Olympic season with a plan to basically break all 3 of his WRs at the Olympics by recycling his iconic Chopin and Seimei programs but upgrading the layout and introducing a new quad – the 4Lz – which he had been preparing for years. he trained so hard during summer that his coach Brian Orser remarked he would have been ready to go to the Olympics right then and there. he landed his 4Lz for the first time in competition at Rostelecom Cup and seemed poised to fight for momentum during the 2017-18 Grand Prix season.

And then this plan was, once again, thrown out the window when he sustained an ankle injury in practice right before the NHK Trophy in early November, which was much more severe than he first thought. he sat out of competition for 3mths, literally disappearing from all news and the public eye, despite hoping to return first at Japanese Nationals and then to the Pyeongchang team event, but pulled out of both as well. (honestly, Olympic season was a Pretty Big Disaster For So Many Bizarre Reasons…)

Yuzuru made his comeback from injury debut at the individual men’s event, aka. the BIG DEAL, after marching into the airport like a BOSS. we were told he had only recovered his triple axel 3 weeks ago and his quads 2 weeks ago, but post-Olympics, he slowly revealed that it was even more dire than that. he skated the entire Olympics on painkillers that were not working 100% which meant every jump landing hurt, accepting the risk he may permanently damage his ankle or worsen his injury because they didn’t actually know the extent of his injury at that point. 

And he. frikkin. WON. by doing thisand this

(It was also the 1000th medal in Winter Olympics history because destiny rewards those who are Most Extra)

But WAIT, you say, what is it about his skating that you love so much?

  • Some of his iconic moves ; _ ; His flexibility has been a key asset since he was young as very few male figure skaters could do the biellmann position in spins and a one handed hydroblade. He said I respect the no core strength community but that’s not me
  • He’s never taken formal ballet classes but here’s a ballet teacher and fan analysing some of his positions and a professional ballerino analysing his Chopin program
  • Edges. Have you seen anything more ridiculous??
  • He has the ability to engage in multidirectional and varied skating with huge amounts of speed, his Step Sequences are monsters, as are his choreo sequences and his transitions going in and out of jumps are the most complex in the field – eg. doing a triple axel in and out of twizzles or from a back counter entry
  • His spins are also amazing. He’s the full package. You wanna watch my personal favourite example of his completely ridiculous skating skills, speed and performance ability? I gotchu
  • Iconic program alert: romeo and juliet 1.0 at worlds, less than 1yr after the tsunami disaster, after he spent all summer training sporadically at ice shows. after flying under the radar for his senior debut, this really launched him onto the international stage
  • Iconic program alert: Sochi olympic short program (the thing that won him the gold lbr)
  • VERY iconic program alert: Chopin and Seimei at Grand Prix Finals 2015/16 
    • His skates for the two programs at NHK Trophy only a fortnight prior smashed the World Record.
    • Under enormous pressure and expectation going into the Grand Prix Final, he skated last, skated perfectly and achieved the WR for highest short program and total program score, beating the silver medallist Javier Fernandez by almost 40 points
    • he’s brought them both back and try to surpass them for the Olympic season because he wasn’t already under enough pressure
  • Seimei is arguably one of the greatest masterpieces of skating programs and Yuzuru was involved in every step of putting it together
  • More iconic program alert: hope and legacy FS at Worlds 2016/17 where he came back from 5th place in the Short Program to win the free and break his own world record yet again (annotated version so you can appreciate just how difficult and insane the layout was)
  • Broke his 12th WR in the first event of the 2017-2018 Olympic season at the ACI Challenger event with a sore knee and downgraded jump layout
    • Hilariously, his coach brian orser was – uncharacteristically – warning everyone that his first skates of the season are like â€˜first pancakes’ and to not expect too much from him before the SP
    • His fans, needless to say, were amused
    • He did go ahead and die in the free skate the following day though, and finished with his obligatory Canadian silver
  • Jumped and landed his first 4Lz in competition at the Rostelecom Cup 2017 (watch it clean – it’s a THING OF BEAUTY) and now has landed 4 types of quads in competition (4T, 4S, 4Lo and 4Lz). Has now said that being the first person ever to land the 4A – his childhood dream – is one of his key motivations.
    • Note from 2019: he uh….tried it. on the last day of being 24 (please remember MOST SKATERS HIS AGE HAVE RETIRED BY NOW AND THE QUAD AXEL HAS NEVER EVEN BEEN ATTEMPTED COMPETITIVELY EVER)
  • Just go watch all his programs lol
  • Wanna see an on-ice POV of his Parisienne Walkways? You’re welcome for the food
  • Has a majestic jump face. It’s art. literally. 

But also what else?

  • Oh you wanna know more, huh? I GOT U BB, WE’VE ALL BEEN THERE
  • He may be a god? idk? He has multiple shrines in Japan that his fans make pilgrimmages to, because of their unintentional connections with him. Some include yuzuruha shrine in kobe because it shares 2 characters with his name (almost 3), the seimei jinja in kyoto, and abe no seimei shrine in osaka.
  • Oda visited one and basically all the ema wishes were for him (Yuzuru himself also visited the shrine to pray as well)
  • A kind fan even put together a list of places to visit for Yuzuru fans wanting to make a pilgrimmage
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gif cr: balladestorm

In conclusion, thank you for reading and I hope you know more about this special, brilliant boy ( :