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!
As far as kids go, there is cute, and then there is Yuzu-cute!!!
There have been a lot of photos of little Yuzu being posted everywhere on the internet**. These photos of baby and young Yuzu are too adorable not to blog about. Here are a couple of the earliest photos I have found. Such an adorable baby Yuzu!! In the first picture, baby Yuzu is with his sister, Saya.
Do you remember what your big goals were when you were young?? I knew I wanted to be a professional athlete. Figure skating was my first sport and when I started skating, also at age 4 like little Yuzu, the rink became my second home. Of course, the first rink I ever trained in was not nice and heated like they are today. If it was -20C outside, it was -22C inside the rink!!! We learned to skate wearing layers and layers of clothing! To know that you want to win the Olympic gold medal and to say it in a tv interview when you are just a kid, and then to actually achieve that dream in front of a few billion people is pretty special!!
Here is a link to a young Yuzu interview video a few years later, but at around the 6:50 mark of the video, they show footage of little Yuzu saying he wants to win an Olympic Gold. It is a different interview than the picture shown above, but he says basically the same thing, and it’s so adorable!!
As little Yuzu was growing up, he idolized Evgeny Plushenko. He even modelled his mushroom haircut after Plushenko, and his early autograph looked like a mushroom too!! Ok, so let’s be honest, as kids, we all at one point had a mushroom haircut. I had a mushroom haircut exactly as shown below when I was 7 years old. Thankfully that only lasted for one year.
Yuzu quickly became a skating protege, who seemed destined for greatness. What is special about Yuzu is that once he declared his goals, he became groomed to become the Olympic Champion. With strong family support, and picture perfect manners, and a humbleness that is very endearing to all who meet him and watch his every move, he has become the the epitome of what you want an athlete to be. Oh, and having pure natural talent doesn’t hurt either.
It is amazing to see how much of his early skating career has been recorded and wonderful to see so much footage of his early competitions. It was like everyone just “knew” he would one day be a champion. I have a couple of my own competitive skating programs recorded on VHS, however since they are so old, the quality is now very horrible. With today’s digital camera phones that can take high definition video, I can see how every moment is captured for this new generation of skaters. I’m thankful to Yuzu’s family or other friends/fans that could see his potential and have preserved the footage of Yuzu growing up and his early competitions, and have since posted these videos in places like youtube or dailymotion.
Yuzu followed his sister, Saya to the rink at age 4. His mom thought figure skating would help him with his asthma. It is well documented that later on, Yuzu’s sister quit skating so that Yuzu could continue on, since skating is a very expensive sport to be in. She continues to be a solid source of support for Yuzu, and was recently spotted at the World Team Trophy competition.
Such a happy kid, you can see the pure joy in his skating. We are so lucky that Yuzu chose to follow his dreams in figure skating rather than quit and play baseball. With his slender build, and flexibility he is a natural athlete and I’m sure that he would have risen to the top in any sport he chose.
Yuzu is simply too cute for words in these next pictures!! There are so many photos of adorable little Yuzu, that I had to put combination photos together here to save space, otherwise this blog post would have become only a photo post.
As I find more and more information about Yuzu’s younger years, what I find interesting is how much the Japanese media covers their up and coming young athletes. They really do know how to promote kids with special talents. I guess a person can ask whether or not it gets to be “too much” coverage. I will cover this topic in a future blog post. There are so many interviews with Yuzu when he was very young. You definitely do not see any type of coverage like this in Canada. Well, ok, maybe just not in figure skating. Our sports stations do cover young hockey players and we see a lot of footage and interviews with young hockey players if they are destined to be in the NHL. But for figure skating, unless you are a close follower of the sport, you really wouldn’t know it existed except for every 4 years during the Olympics. That’s a hint to Skate Canada that they need to start promoting our young stars!! I find the limited coverage kind of sad, but at least Canada does have a few world class skaters that are prominent on the world stage. Thank you to the CBC for at least live streaming the Grand Prix competitions!!
Off the ice, Yuzu is just a regular fun kid.
The path to Olympic glory was not all smiles and happiness. Figure skating is a tough sport, and even the best skaters have off days. Even when Yuzu is fighting back tears, he is simply adorable. It’s hard enough to hide your feelings of disappointment when there are people around, but when every move you make, and every facial expression you have is captured on tv, I do feel sorry for Yuzu sometimes. Every emotion he shows is plastered all over tv and the internet, and he can’t do anything to prevent it.
Yuzu never hesitates to tell the interviewer what he thinks, and what he wants. While many athletes today receive training on how to act and talk in front of the media, Yuzu has been interviewed since he was a young child. I doubt that he was given much training on how to be in front of the camera so early. He has done such a remarkable job as a young kid. Such composure in front of the media is rare.
Here are a few random pictures of young Yuzu. The blue cover thing he is wearing on top of his tshirt always grabs my attention. The way the shoulders fall, it makes me think he is playing North American football wearing shoulder pads. Yuzu is definitely not large enough to be a North American football player. But, from the second picture, I guess this was for a team event, or team building since his buddies are carrying him on their shoulders.
EDIT: A kind reader let me know that the game Yuzu and his friends are playing here is “Kibasen” (calvary battle). In the game teams split up into groups where one person wearing a cap or headband is carried around almost piggy back style. That person is supposed to try and stead the cap/headband of those on the opposing team. *Thanks to Kiches on the Golden Skate forum for this info!!
Here are some really unique photos that I have never seen before of young Yuzu that have recently surfaced on twitter. Photo credits are on the pictures. These images are priceless.
Yuzu cuteness is well documented. Yuzu has now grown into a gorgeous young man!! I’m excited to follow Yuzu throughout the rest of his career, I’m sure it will be a very exciting time for all of us fans!! This is going to be a long off-season, but I’m glad to hear that Yuzu is back in Toronto working on his two new programs. I’m glad to know that he is back safely training with Brian and that he is limiting the number of ice shows so that he can get some much needed rest. Yuzu’s definition of REST = only training each quad jump 20 times per session instead of 40. I have learnt a thing or two myself from his determination but I think I could teach him a thing or two about how to rest!
Go Yuzu Go!!
** credits for photos used here are on the pictures where possible, but it’s hard to identify the original sources since the pictures have been re-posted so many times. I’m thankful to the many fans who post these pictures. : )