Hey sports fans!! Thanks for stopping by my blog! I am a self admitted “rink rat” so a lot of this blog will be about figure skating and hockey, however as an ex-figure skater, ex-varsity athlete and a sports fan in general, I usually have thoughts and opinions about alot of different sports I follow, so visit often!
Since this is my first blog entry about Yuzuru Hanyu, it will be a 2014 year summary. Boy, it’s been an amazing 2014 year for Yuzuru Hanyu, and what a crazy Grand Prix season!!! The legend of Yuzuru Hanyu is continuing to grow and take shape!! Being a Yuzuru Hanyu fan is an emotional roller coaster and is full of drama, thats for sure but it’s worth it!! If you didn’t know, Yuzuru is a survivor of the 2011 earthquake that hit Sendai, Japan when he was just 16 years old. Yuzuru ran out of his practice rink, still wearing his skates to escape the collapse of the ice rink and he lost his training base. He remains very dedicated to trying to help this area rebuild and provide hope for the people of Sendai and Japan.
Some of his career highlights so far leading up to and including this season:
2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Yuzuru is the first asian man ever to win the Olympic gold medal in figure skating. He did it by setting a World Record score of 101.45 in the short program, first man to ever score over 100 points under the new scoring system at an International event. Who can ever forget his Parisienne Walkways short program? It’s my favourite all time skating program! Yuzuru’s young fans call this move the “Pistol Pose”, which actually made Yuzuru laugh when they asked him to demonstrate this at a school visit he made after winning. Yuzuru beat Patrick Chan for the gold medal by just under 5 points!
Yuzuru didn’t have much time to rest after becoming the Olympic Champion, as the World Championships held in Saitama, Japan were right afterwards in March. Yuzuru claimed his first World title!! Yuzuru won the world title with only a 0.33 point margin over from Tatsuki Machida.
I think Disney should sign Yuzuru as a Disney/Winnie the Pooh ambassador!! His Pooh tissue box goes everywhere with him (except the Olympics where sponsorship/branding was an issue), and his never changing smile on his face keeps Yuzuru calm. The amount of Pooh stuffies that are thrown on the ice after his programs is enough to keep Disney profitable year round! Yuzuru has made carrying a stuffed animal around as a tissue box cool and relevant again!
This Grand Prix season has been a tough one for Yuzuru, also known as Yuzu to his coach and training mates (Javier Fernandez and Nam Nguyen) at the Toronto Cricket and Skating Club. At the Cup of China, he had a horrific crash into Han Yan from China during the 6 minute warm up which left him with 7 stitches on his chin, some staples in his head, and ankle, thigh and abdominal injuries!! He surprised everyone and still came out to skate his long program afterwards, wearing a full head bandage, and while he fell five times, he got a technical score high enough to keep him on the podium for 2nd place. Yes, figure skating has always been a controversial sport when it comes to judging. The new scoring system is complex, but hopefully you will learn more about it through my blog.
While a lot of people thought he would withdraw from the NHK Trophy a few weeks later, Yuzu was determined not to waste his placement at Cup of China and to make the Grand Prix final. While his short and long programs were not perfect, he did his best, and ended up in fourth place at NHK. However, his point total to edge out Jeremy Abbott for fourth place was just enough. Yuzu beat Jeremy by 0.15 points overall at NHK. How close was it? If he didn’t beat Jeremy by that slim margin to place fourth, then Yuzu would have accumulated 20 points instead of 22 in the Grand Prix standings and then would have been tied with Jason Brown for the 6th and final spot to go to the Grand Prix Final. If it came down to a tie breaker, Jason would have beat Yuzu by 2.4 points, and been the 6th skater to the Grand Prix Final instead of Yuzu. Some people are just blessed!!
Note: Yuzu had to change his POTO (Phantom of the Opera) costume because they could not get some of the blood stains out of the original one (shown above).
Onto the Grand Prix Final in Barcelona, Yuzu had a seasons best short program score and aside from the missed triple lutz in the long program, skated brilliantly and defended his Grand Prix final title, despite his lack of training time. He beat his next closest competitor which was his training mate Javier Fernandez of Spain by almost 35 points! Bronze went to Sergei Voronov of Russia.
The last competition for 2014 was the Japanese National Championships, which were probably the most stressful event of all for Yuzu and his fans!! With strong performances of both his short and long program, Yuzu successfully defended his title and three-peats as Japanese National Champion!! Again, Yuzu beats his next closest competitor, Shoma Uno by over 35 points. He is truly in a class by himself! Congratulations to Takahiko Kozuka who came back to win the bronze medal with his long program skate of the season. Takahiko has been struggling all Grand Prix series, so it was nice to see his hard work rewarded with a strong long program and a place on the podium.
You would think that the drama would end there, but of course there was more drama only a day after Yuzu was crowned as the Champion! Yuzu withdrew and did not skate in the closing Gala since he was getting checked out for intermittant abdominal pain he had been experiencing since the Grand Prix final. Turns out he was diagnosed with urachal remnant disease and had to undergo emergency surgery to fix the issue. This, only a couple days after he skated almost flawlessly to retain his national title. Just incredible determination and willpower to keep going while in pain! This kid is amazing!!
The figure skating world had another surprise in store, the sudden retirement of Tatsuki Machida. He was named to the Japanese World Team, along with Yuzu and Takahiko Kozuka, however in a surprise move, Tatsuki announced his retirement during the World Team announcement ceremony, indicating his desire to concentrate on his studies!! Having seen Machida skate live when he won at Skate America this year, this is a big loss to the Japanese team, and skating in general.
So now Yuzu is recovering from surgery and is out for six weeks, and getting some much needed rest after a crazy 2014!! Both he and his coach, legendary Canadian figure skater, Brian Orser are hopeful for his recovery in time to defend his World title in March. Hopefully Yuzu gets back to Toronto soon and has some solid training time with Brian. Until then, the skating world can take much a needed breather!!