The athletes of Team Japan participating in this year’s World Team Trophy (Osaka) released comments on April 5th. Sochi & Pyeongchang Olympics Gold Medalist Yuzuru Hanyu (ANA), who will be participating in WTT for the 3rd time, expressed his thoughts [through a written message in which he wrote], “May I become a light for someone,” and also provided the following comments:
Yuzuru: In travelling to various places recently, there are not many people out and about, and I felt strongly that there are a lot of people who are out of work and are in difficult circumstances.
However, even amidst that, the people I’ve met, those who reach out to me—of course, I can’t say that this past World Championships was at all a good performance— but even so, when I receive words from people like “you gave me courage,” or am called the “light of hope,” I feel that even if I don’t get good results, or even if it’s not convincingly a good performance (for me), maybe it can be for someone else. I want to carry that in my heart through my performances and so that’s why I chose this phrase.
A: (Introducing himself) I am Yuzuru Hanyu, who has been selected as a representative to the World Championships. This time, I am going to the World Championships as a representative who is also the Japanese National Champion, so ―while of course there is the current situation in the world―firstly as a Japanese person, I will take pride in that and work to be able to go to that competition. On top of that, I would like to properly deliver a good performance and of course heading towards the Beijing Olympics, to secure spots [for Japan’s Olympic team], so, I want to put in my best effort to fulfill my role.
Q: You will compete against foreign skaters at the World Championships for the first time in this season. Who are your potential rivals and what rank are you aiming for?
A: Yes, well, to be honest, we won’t really know until we compete together. Of course, there is a certain standard of figure skating rules, but the standard can change depending on the atmosphere, the ice rink, or the way the scores are calculated. If you don’t know what it is like to be there, you can’t simply compare. In that sense as well, the Japanese National Championship scores are probably not going into official (ISU) records.
In this season, the Grand Prix series, Skate America, Skate Canada and many other competitions have been cancelled and the ISU has said that the scores of these Grand Prix series won’t count as official scores this time. So, I don’t think we can simply compare scores. The score 318 ―or was it 315, or was it 318?― that I gained myself is not officially recognized either. I don’t feel that I’m winning or that I want to be in a certain position, simply by comparing scores, at least at the moment. Of course, I’m interested in Nathan’s progress. But what I’m going to do, what I want to improve, is not only that, but the quad Axel and also how to evolve and deepen this program itself, so, I think that’s the most important thing.
Q: What is your advice to Kagiyama, who is competing for the first time in the World Championships?
A: Yes, earlier, when he was asked things like if there were any skaters he had his eye on or what kind of rank he wants to achieve, I could tell that he was really trying to lie about his feelings. (Turning to look back at Kagiyama) I think there is no need for that. I think that his strength is in his competitive spirit, his ambition, and his vigor. Of course, he might not be able to win with just that alone, but it is his most important weapon right now. I want him to treasure that.
The first time that I competed in the World Championships that I was able to get a bronze medal was, of course, a very big turning point for me. Although, that year, and that season itself was a very big turning point for me. I have never forgotten my performance at that time, and I think it was the energy and the vigor that I could only have had at that time, that helped me to reach that position. (Kagiyama) has even said that he wants to win the Japanese National Championships, so I hope he won’t lie to himself about those feelings, and I want him to do his best with those feelings in mind.
A: Of course, well, this time, although all competitions* are over, all skaters were doing as much as possible to prevent the spread of infection, but of course among skaters there were those who contracted COVID19, um, and went to Russia’s Nationals, or Russian National Championships but I think there are still many who suffered and were unable to go, and in turn others who contracted COVID19 and recovered and are doing their best to compete. However, as athletes, as long as there are after-effects [of the virus], we must not contract it, and we as the younger generation should not be the ones to spread it either. I really believe that it is our responsibility. So, I think the first and foremost thing is for us athletes not to get infected.
*T/N: Unclear if he is referring to just JPN Nationals events alone or other countries’ nationals and GP series/overall competitions as well.
I don’t know if I am in a position to say this, but when I think about the Japanese National Championships overall, I saw that each and every skater was wearing a mask immediately at the Kiss & Cry to prevent infection, and seeing that made me want to do my best to take care of myself in the future. I think the best thing about the event was that we could see things like that and also noticeably see that many people, including those who came to the venue, were making efforts to prevent infection.
Well, of course, speaking of holding events, figure skating events, including competitions, are in a large part classified as entertainment. So, I think there is a risk of spreading the infection. However, there were many people who thought that we should take care of ourselves even more to prevent the spread of the disease, after watching this competition. I’m really glad that the Japanese National Figure Skating Championships was held for that reason, and at the same time, I don’t know what the World Championships will be like, but I think all the skaters here have to show the world and Japan what we can do.