I have a series of « Yuzuru Hanyu is » articles in mind and I intended to post more before that one that sounds cheesy (rest easy : it’s hopefully more funny than waxing lyrical). But it took me too long to get started and I just cannot miss the occasion to write this in time for Valentine’s Day, for the joke.
He’s going to give a press conference today too. It’s like we’re all (his fans and the media and him) having an online date, and I’m not sure the date is a coincidence.
But before going into details, everything is said in that CBC Interview, partly in English :
He loves figure skating. Which sounds like a given for a professionnal figure skater, considering how much of your life you have to dedicate to reach this level. But… maybe not upon reading interviews from some coach. *cough* Anyway. Love means restless dedication :
Ice-chan (I don’t think he calls it that. I’m just a cliché fangirl of everything Japan)
He loves the ice and the ice rink. He’s usually seen thanking the ice whenever he exits the rink. There is a lot of animism in Japanese spirituality, so for anyone familiar with the culture, it’s not that surprising (which doesn’t mean that it’s a natural thing in Japan either, or you’d see Shoma Uno and Yuma Kagiyama do it too. It is very much a « Hanyu thing »). The first time I saw that kind of picture, there was a comment from the photograph that Hanyu looked like he was speaking to the ice. Yes, probably, so?
His hometown of Sendai
After the huge Tohoko Earthquake of 2011 devastated his hometown of Sendai and the whole area, Hanyu donated nearly $300,000 over the years to the skating rink where he skated during all his childhood. The copyrights of his 2 autobiographies, Aoi Honoo and Aoi Honoo II, are also going to the Sendai Ice Rink. He donated most of the money he got for his 2014 and 2018 Olympic gold medals to Sendai and Miyagi Prefecture to help the disaster areas reconstruction. He’s been involved in various programs of disaster preparation since then.
Winnie the Pooh
He is known to carry around a Winnie the Pooh tissue box during competitions (except for the Olympic Games where athletes are not allowed to bring in brands that are not the official sponsors of the Olympics). Which made fans throw dozens or hundreds of Winnie the Pooh teddie bears on the rink after each of his performances (he has them donated to local hospitals and charities).
« He’s not a lucky charm, more like a coach », he said in the above interview.
His team : coaches / physiotherapist / training partner
… and journalists who have followed him.
Fellow figure skaters
Mao Asada :
Evgenia Medvedeva (one of many cute interactions)
Boyang Jin (this was covered a lot in China because as you may know, China and Japan have a few… historical disagreements, to put it lightly, and wounds are not fully healed yet, to say the least. So Chinese media did notice that Yuzuru was always friendly to Boyang Jin, even once Covid 19 struck and ignited completely stupid xenophobic behaviors all over the world)
Actually, the figure skating field seems to be full of wholesome athletes being rather friendly even during competitions. Maybe because it’s an individual discipline where the main goal is to push your own limits at being the best, rather than crushing others.
Cute moments from the Pyeongchang gala warm-up.
The next generation of skaters
I don’t know if he already knows what he’s going to do when he retires from competition, but it looks like he would be an awesome coach for all the mini-Yuzuru of the future. Especially the little ones. Not that his experience couldn’t benefit competitive junior / senoir ones, but I’m not sure it would be very pleasant to stay in the competition field… unless he manages to get scoring by computer adopted.
And surprisingly, said cats let him rub their fur the wrong way, or rub their belly. If you are a cat lover, you know how special that is… *stamp of cat approval*
His fans all over the world
Tracy Wilson, one of his coaches, traced his higher motivation back to the Tohoku Earthquake :
“You’re doing it all of a sudden for your country, your neighbors,” she said. “You start to move to a higher purpose and that takes you to that next level.”
Indeed that may explain why his Arigatou Gozaimashita (Thank you) to his fans always sound more heartfelt than mere crowd pleasers. The older I get and the more I realize the comfort of entertainment. Some may think it’s futile, but life is full of tragic events, and it’s a blessing to have funny, light-hearted, beautiful things to look forward to. It’s what takes you through the pain.
He gets it, and that may be why he manages to touch so many people.
Entertaining people is one of the most useful jobs in the world, after the medical ones. Beauty and laugh heal the soul and the mind.
(and it also works if there was a tiny underrotation to your 4A or a mistake along the way. No apology needed)