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!

Yuzuru Hanyu: Plushy and Patrick are back!

The figure skating season has only officially been over for one week, and already we have had two BIG announcements.  Both Patrick Chan and Evgeny Plushenko are returning to competitive skating next season!  Neither announcements were totaly unexpected, however it is always nice to have early offical confirmations from the skaters.  How does this impact Yuzu?  What effect does it have on Yuzu’s training?

The return of Patrick Chan is not unexpected.  After the Olympics, Patrick said that he was taking a year off and would decide later if he would return to competitive skating or retire.  During this season off, Patrick has enjoyed a break from vigorous training and experienced a little bit of “normal” life.  It has brought him some perspective about life, however, he has realized that he is still hungry to compete.  Since he missed his chance at Olympic gold, I think he feels like he still has something to prove.  I can only imagine what it feels like to be so close to achieving your lifelong dream, and then to have it all slip away at the flip of a blade.

In only a year since Patrick has been away, the mens field has changed.  Skaters no longer feel the need for a quad jump in their programs to win, now there is a feeling that you need multiple quads to win.

In the interview link below, Patrick addresses his age.  At 24, he is hardly “old”, yet in the figure skating terms, that is when a lot of skaters have started to reach their peaks.  One advantage that Patrick has had is a minimal amount of serious injuries over his career thus far.  No major surgeries have been reported by his team and Patrick is currently very healthy and rested (both mentally and physically).  Also in the link below, Patrick comments briefly about the 2018 Olympics and does not rule them out.  Patrick feels like he has the maturity to train properly and keep his body healthy enough for three more years.  In 2018, Patrick will be 27 years years old at his third Olympics, he still could be an dark horse in the men’s event.

With Patrick back, the Canadian men’s field changes dramatically.  While Nam (16) has been anointed the heir apparent to Patrick, he is still very young and still developing his strength and skills.  Nam has shown this season that he has the ability to keep up with “the big boys”, however, with Patrick back, it is a bit of a game changer.  Now Canada has a legitimate contender for the top of the podium.  While my allegiance is with Yuzu, I’m excited to see Patrick return to competitive skating.

Now, onto Evgeny Plushenko!!  I have been a fan of Plushy since he first entered the senior ranks. While his announcement to return to competitive skating wasn’t a total surprise, I didn’t think he would actually do it.  Plushenko has hinted at a possible comeback many times since he retired after his withdrawal from the mens event in Sochi, however his desire to compete has never been questioned.  Will he become the first man to compete in a record 5 Olympics?  While his short term goal is to compete in the Grand Prix series, and qualify for the Grand Prix Final, and ultimately qualify for the World Championships next season, 2018 Olympics appears to be Plushy’s ultimate goal.

At 32 years old, Plushenko’s health is the biggest concern, he has had so many serious injuries and surgeries that I have lost count.  He says in his interviews that he has things to prove to people, and himself.  I’m not sure what he means by this.  He is already called the King of skating, he has already won the individual mens event at the 2006 Olympics in Torino.  I’m curious to know what he thinks he still has to prove?  He was one of the most decorated and consistent skaters during his time.

After all of the wear and tear Plushenko’s body has endured, I’m a bit skeptical about his ability to rise to the top again.  I don’t doubt that he will be competitive and potentially somewhere near the top of the leader board, however top of the podium??  Has he not been watching all these young skaters coming up?  While Plushy definitely has experience to rely on, and the heart and desire to compete, I don’t think this is enough.  It will be interesting to watch his comeback bid, however I sure hope it doesn’t end up being a sad one.  Perhaps Plushenko just wants to erase the final images that people have of him, the image of him clutching his back and withdrawing from the Olympics.  Such an image is something that a champion doesn’t want to be his lasting memory.  Good luck to Plushy, but it’s time to pass the torch to the Prince (Yuzu) who has shown that he is very capable of take skating into the future.

Of course, what does this all mean to Yuzu?  While we have the extremes in terms of health, that being healthy Patrick on one end, and Plushenko at the extreme opposite end, I think Yuzu fits somewhere in the middle.  Injuries in figure skating are impossible to avoid, however, how a skater deals with them, allowing the proper recovery time and adjusting their training is so very important.  Hopefully Yuzu will spend more time in Toronto this upcoming season with Brian (i.e.: supervised) rather than training alone in Japan, where he is allowed to push himself too hard.  Yuzu seems to have recurring lower back challenges, and chronic ankle injuries, so like Patrick, hopefully Yuzu will  learn to listen to his body.  Training properly is something that Yuzu is still learning, albeit the hard way.  I think this maturity is starting to develop in Yuzu, because he has already reduced the number of ice shows he is participating in this summer, and has opted to go back to Toronto already.  Yay!!

In the link below, it is an interview with Yuzuru and he comments very briefly about Plushenko’s return and a bit about Patrick, however, at the time of this interview, Patrick had not yet announced his return.  What is interesting for me is that when asked about Plushenko, Yuzu doesn’t talk about having to beat him.  Yuzu is just excited to see his idol skate again.  However, Yuzu is very motivated to beat Patrick, so I think that Patrick’s return is going to be very good for Yuzu!!

English translation of the questions below from Sophie Moroi (YH FB group)

Q: What would you think of Plushenko coming back?
A: Yuzuru: I have a mixed feeling: I am pleased but I feel nothing different at the same time. Of course, I –as a fan- feel excited to be able to see his new performance.  But there is no change whatsoever to what I have to do as a skater, so I just have to keep concentrating on myself.  

Q: To make anything into a [learning] experience, did you already have this way of thinking right from the very beginning?

A: Yuzuru: It might or might not be so.  But one thing for sure is this– last season, when I wasn’t able to beat Mr Patrick Chan at all, when I wasn’t able to do my own performances at all at the Grand Prix Series and I was absorbed with the thought that “I have to beat Mr Patrick Chan, I have to beat him”,  I tried to re-set myself and consider “how can I concentrate on myself”.  This experience served as a trigger to reflect upon my own mental condition and my jumps.  

All three men (Yuzu, Patrick, Evgeny) are former World Champions.  Each one of the has their own special qualities and unique styles as skaters.  So, with the recent news from Plushy and Patrick, it sure sets up an amazing upcoming figure skating season in 2015/2016!!!  I haven’t even mentioned Javier Fernandez or Denis Ten here, so the race to the top of the podium suddenly has become very crowded!!  I’m still drained from this season, but excited to see what is in store for us fans in 2015/2016!!

Stay tuned, and GO YUZU GO!!


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This entry was posted on April 25, 2015 by in Figure Skating and tagged .
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