Yuzuru Hanyu: an exhaustive introduction (2017 ~ 2019)

Originally posted on Tumblr by Lae (@axelsandwich)


  • 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.
  • PSA: YUZURU HANYU IS NOT THE MODEL FOR YUURI KATSUKI FROM YURI ON ICE (yuuri katsuki is canonically based on tatsuki machida thank u)
  • 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 $22M yen profit to support the local skating federation
      • their cheer video for sochi and pyeongchang for him
      • 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.
‘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
  • but Pooh rain is really amazing to witness live, an experience like no other
  • 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 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!
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

Literally says ‘Hanyu has NO CHILL WHATSOEVER’
  • but also for being the sweetest kid ever 
    • oda nobunari visited one and basically all the ema wishes were for him (yuzuru himself also visited the shrine to pray as well)
  • gives his fans regular heart attacks
  • It is REALLY IMPORTANT to know that the main reason for fan heart attacks 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
    • 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 and he decided to skate anyway because he wanted to qualify for the Grand Prix Final and felt responsibility to do so as the newly minted Olympic champion and while the debate rages on even now about whether he should have done so, he did indeed go out and do…that > <;;;
    • he then came back a month later to win the Grand Prix Final for the 2nd year in a row
  • he then had abdominal pain and surgery right after winning Japanese Nationals in 2014
    • and after spending a month recuperating, still managed to win a silver medal at worlds 2014
  • this is why we don’t talk about boston worlds 2016 – he skated while hiding a lisfranc injury that he thought – at the time – could end his career and that entire summer afterwards, no one knew whether he would ever return to competition…but he did
    • important to note he skated his iconic chopin/seimei 2015 grand prix final programs WITH THAT INJURY
  • 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, 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 and 1 month of prep at the individual mens event of the pyeongchang olympics…. AND FRIKKIN WON HIS SECOND OLYMPIC GOLD (more down the page)
  • he then…injured himself again for the 2018-19 season, went out and skated 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.
  • is proficient at disappearing completely like a ninja and subjecting his fans to radio silence for months on end, usually bc he injured himself and also because he has no known social media channels ))):

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

  • he’s broken the world record 16 times and counting (the video is his reaction to the first 11 (most of them are his own records)
  • 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)
  • 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
  • do you want to aww? here’s a short compilation of other figure skater and other sportspeople his programs have inspired


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.

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 ; _ ; 
  • edges. have you seen anything more ridiculous
  • 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 ‘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
  • has a majestic jump face. it’s art. literally. 

But also what else?

  • Yuzuru is known for a seemingly endless appetite for improvement, evolution and continually challenging himself
    • his favourite word: kuyashii (ie. frustrated)
    • 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?’

      yuzuru (no hesitation and immediately): after everyone goes clean, I go clean and win.

      (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
      • there’s a chance some of these are inspired by anime protagonists

  • oh, also he’s had asthma since he was two 
  • he’s also b e a u t i f u l 
  • want to research more? 
    • here’s a recommended watchpost
    • here’s a feature article on his skating journey called ‘Spin the Dream‘ translated (ad hoc, sorry) by me
    • the new york times did a long feature on him and it’s a pretty comprehensive article if you want an overview and intro to Yuzuru, but English/American media as a whole don’t tend to cover him in depth or tend to do it poorly, or are straight up offensive about it (if I hear one more poorly researched journalist question making it all about his Winnie the Poohs, I will scream), so I recommend Japanese interviews where you can really get a feel for his way of thinking
    • a compilation of interesting interviews by tsukihoshi14

gif cr: balladestorm

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