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: Team Hanyu

While I enjoy all disciplines of skating, Yuzu is definitely the main event. The programs that we see Yuzu perform in competitions are the result of many months of hard work. However, to become a champion it takes athletic talent, perseverance, dedication, discipline, as well as an army of people to help and support you!

So, who is Team Hanyu? Of course, it all starts at home with the support of family.

The Hanyu’s:  

  • Yuzu’s older sister Saya.  Saya’s willingness to give up the sport so Yuzu could continue to skate shows her selflessness and love for her little brother.
  • While we don’t see or hear much about Yuzu’s dad, never underestimate the strength and guidance he is providing Yuzu from behind the scenes.
  • And then there is Mama Hanyu.  Making sure Yuzu is well taken care of, I’m sure she oversees every detail of the whole Hanyu brand.  The family decision to have his mom travel to Canada with Yuzu to take care of him, while leaving his dad and sister behind, must have been hard on the family but such dedication to his goals and dreams demonstrates the strength and conviction of their family.  In the end, this decision has made his transition to training in Canada much easier for Yuzu and it turned out to be the correct one.

Imagine how proud Yuzu’s parents are of the son they have raised, not only as a World class athlete, but Yuzu, the person who cares deeply for his hometown, and his country. He has demonstrated to the world, the Japanese spirit of courtesy, respect, and the love of his roots. Talk about knowing you raised your child well!


Brian Orser: Coach


Photo credit: Getty Images

Primary coach, mentor, and friend.  A master technician, Brian has been working with Yuzu since 2012.  Yuzu came to Brian with an abundance of raw natural talent and charisma.  Under Brian’s guidance, Yuzu has learned to harness and control his unbelievable talent.  Brian’s team training approach has also given Yuzu a better all around training plan which also includes off ice training such as yoga and strength training that Yuzu previously shied away from.

Brians’ experience not only as an Olympian but him knowing what it is like to bear the weight of an entire nation on your shoulders, has undoubtedly been very valuable to Yuzu. There is a strong bond between them.  We only see their interactions during competition practices and in the Kiss and Cry, yet despite the initial language barriers they have forged a great working relationship.

Does Yuzu tell Brian everything, like when he is injured?  Probably not.  Does Brian take the blame for this sometimes, yes.  No athlete trains without some aches and pains on a daily basis and the usual remedy is to ice it after a training session.  With 2018 Olympics being the ultimate goal, I think the latest injury (foot ligament injury) was a wake up call for Team Hanyu; that Yuzu needs to communicate these issues to his team sooner and Team Hanyu is now planning his schedule appropriately so he will not be burned out by Pyeongchang.

Most importantly, Brian carries Pooh for Yuzu!!  


Photo credit: Getty Images


Tracy Wilson: Coach


Photo credit: screen shot I took from an old Olympic video

As Yuzu’s skating skills coach, Tracy has really helped Yuzu understand how to utilize his deep edges and how to control his power and speed.  I love the stories from Brian and Tracy about taking Yuzu back to skating skills basics.  Yuzu showed that he is so open minded, even as a budding world class athlete, he did not even mind them forcing him to go back to skating basics.  She and Brian has really reinforced the need for strong basic skating foundations and having control of your edges at all speeds.  The results of Tracy’s work with Yuzu is the beautiful transitions and control that he exhibits in his choreography.

Yuzu now understands the impact of his speed on the timing of his jumping passes and the rhythm of the jumps where as before he would just go full speed into the jumps, and be a little bit out of control.  It’s nice to sit back and review old videos of his 2011/2012 performances with the skater that he is today.  You can see the progression in his skating, and it’s just thrilling to watch.



Shae-Lynn Bourne: Choreographer


Photo credit: Shae-Lynn’s instagram

Canadian choreographer.  Yuzu has worked on 2 free programs with Shae-Lynn, namely Phantom and Seimei.  We never saw the fully developed version of POTO since Yuzu and Shaw-Lynn never had enough time together to refine the program over the course of the full season.  But, what we did see was the development of a relationship between choreographer and skater that really clicks.  While Shae-Lynn had to get used to Yuzu and his style of skating, it is very obvious that by the time they got together again, this time for Seimei, she understood his style and is an excellent fit for Yuzu.  The fact that Shae-Lynn took the time to research the background and meaning behind Seimei and the Japanese culture, shows that she is the type of choreographer that wants to work with the skaters, and not just make them skate her choreography.

I am super excited that Yuzu has gone back to Shae-Lynn for this seasons free program.  I am struggling with the notion of how I could possibly enjoy anything more than Seimei, but I will hold out my judgement until we see the finished product!

For any of Yuzu’s fans that don’t follow anyone outside of Yuzu, if you didn’t know Shae-Lynn as a skater, you should take a look at her and her partner Victor Kraatz on youtube. They had many great performances that were so creative in the world of ice dance and they were the first North America dance team to win a World Championship.  Plus, they were Canadian!


Jeff Buttle: Choreographer


Photo credit: screen shot from news video

Canadian choreographer.  Yuzu and Jeff have collaborated on Parisian Walkways and Chopin so far.  Wow, what an amazing team!!  The previous 2 short programs were so different that it shows the range that both Jeff and Yuzu have together creatively.

Again, I am super happy that Yuzu has decided to stay with Jeff for his new short program for this season!  Based on reports that it the new short program will be more rock and roll, I am super excited!!!  As for the costume, please keep the black bottoms Yuzu, I beg of you!!

I love that Jeff Buttle was actually the first person to do the famous Yuzu pistol pose himself.  Unfortunately I am unable to find the old video of Jeff doing the lunge move, but it exists out there somewhere.  Now, Yuzu has made it his own.


Akira Kikuchi:  Trainer


Photo credit: unknown

Trainer, therapist.  Trust in your trainer and therapist is very key to success.  Whether it is someone treating you for an injury or helping you prepare for an event, you have to have the utmost trust in them, and Yuzu has this in Kikuchi-san.  He kind of resembles a father figure on the road for Yuzu.  You can tell that he cares about Yuzu, and is very proud of Yuzu when he does well.

I watched Kikuchi-san carefully at Autumn Classic (in person), and he takes care of all the little things that people don’t realize.  Not only does he take care of Yuzu, he makes sure that Yuzu’s bags are in the proper place when Yuzu is on the ice, that Pooh is carefully taped to the boards so he doesn’t fall off, that the towel is folded and ready for Yuzu, that the garbage bag for the kleenex is also taped behind the boards so that it is taken care of and no one sees it etc.

Number one

Photo credit: unknown


Yuzu’s bodyguards: Protectors

AC Bodyguards

Photo credit: Newscom

Due to Yuzu’s overwhelming popularity, he has had the need to employ personal bodyguards.  The sheer volume of fans that Yuzu has prevents him from being able to greet any of them, since he knows that if he stops for one fan, he will get stuck for a long time trying to be fair to everyone.  Here is a part of an interview from a magazine where Yuzu talks about the overwhelming support he receives but cannot respond in person.

Interview after Skate Canada
There was nothing that could make me happier than applause from the audience. Although Patrick and Nam were here in Canada, I could receive a big round of applause as well. When I could see a standing ovation, I was really happy. I could see many Japanese flags as well. So many Japanese people came here far from home. I’m deeply thankful. But please let me take this occasion to say a few words to them. If they talk to me “Good morning!” or “Do your best!”, I cannot greet them because I think I have to focus on competitions. I feel really sorry for that, but on the other hand, I’d like to say I’m always grateful to them for their support.
Source:  ワールド・フィギュアスケート 71 大型本 – 2015/12/2   新書館

“World Figure Skate 71”
 December 2, 2015 published by Shinsho-kan.
*Thank you to poissonbleu for her translation of this section of the interview for me.

Now that I have been to multiple events to see Yuzu skate live, I have witnessed the sheer wonder of his skating, but I have also witnessed his need for this type of personal bodyguard protection.  My hope for all events is that fans will respect his personal space and give him some room to breathe during competitions.  These events are very important to him, and we know he appreciates everyone’s support, but when it gets to the point where he can get injured by the hoards of fans crowding him or blocking his transport vehicles or throwing/shoving things at him and hitting him, I cannot do anything but shake my head.  Please everyone, let’s give him some space and let him be amazing.


Yoshiko Kobayashi (JSF):  The Federation

JSF lady

Photo credit: Unknown

Yoshiko represents the Japanese Skating Federation and this is the photo that made her famous.  She seems to be the primary spokesperson for the JSF, and you will find her at all of the ISU events, very often accompanying Yuzu.  I rarely see her alongside any of the other Japanese skaters even though she is a representative of the Japanese Federation.

She is responsible for communications as well as, I am sure after Cup of China last season, coordinating the efforts of the medical personnel that will accompany the higher ranked skaters to major international events.


Major Sponsors:  ANA


Sponsors play a huge part in helping a skater achieve their dreams.  Figure skating is a very expensive sport and financial support is such an important part of a skaters journey. ANA is Yuzu’s primary corporate sponsor.  Yuzu has other partnerships (Phiten, Lotte, Nintendo etc) but I would put them under the category of endorsements.

When I was coming home from Japan, I had the privilege of having access to the ANA lounge at Narita airport.  Once I got settled there, a familiar sound filled the lounge.  They were playing Hana Ni Nare on the sound system.  While I have no idea if this was Yuzu related, it was a nice “hey, that’s so cool” moment.


Most important member of Team Hanyu:  Pooh!!  


Photo credit: screen shot from video

Like Yuzu has said, Pooh is always there, his facial expression never changes, and Pooh provides him with emotional support.  Pooh also provides much needed kleenex during ice time.  He is an irreplaceable member of Team Hanyu and Pooh has as many fans as Yuzu himself.


Go Yuzu Go!! Doki Doki!!




18 comments on “Yuzuru Hanyu: Team Hanyu

  1. burdens
    July 23, 2016

    Pooooohh yes save the best for the last! Thank you for the supportive blog. I love the team so much. Pooh is still number 1 though.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kwok Kwan Yow
    July 23, 2016

    Thank you for a detailed insight into Yuzu’s entourage! I really enjoy your blog and I learned so much more about Yuzu’s here. I was especially amazed by your blog on Yuzu’so water bottles which I would not known since YouTube was my only source of information about him!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Lynne
    July 23, 2016

    Thank you, love to read your blog. Yuzu really a special and awesome person. Keep it up 💪💪😊

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pee Jay
    July 28, 2016

    Your blogs are always a joy to read, but this one was especially great. Not enough Yuzu fans pay attention to the entire team. Thank you for this.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yumiko Yoshida
    July 31, 2016

    Great article! I think it’s very very hard to dig up the news or videos including reports on Yuzu’s family,especially Kikuchi-san’s are so rare, and what is more, these are Japanese language. I’m so very impressed with your effort!!!
    Meanwhile,I was shocked that guys we have often seen recently beside Yuzu is his bodyguards. Many Japanese Yuzu-fans are women who loves figure skate as a sport and they want to see breathtaking performances of their beloved skaters rather than to touch them.(me too.)
    So,I had never thought Yuzu needed these guys. And….thoughtlessly,I just thought they were like JFS’s staff members to support his competitions. But it’s wrong….
    So sad that some evil people of us have done such cruel and terrible things to Yuzu. I really hope,on ice links,he will make everything do just the way he expected. So I absolutely agree with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. anyenyen
    January 8, 2017

    Thank u very much for your useful information ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hoang
    February 25, 2017

    Thank you for sharing all these information about Hanyu! Being a new fan of his two weeks ago and new to male figure skating, I can only rely on wikipedia and youtube videos. I wish I can learn more from his interviews and other videos but they are in Japanese. Currently searching all information about him and his coaches and his fellow competitor Javi Fernandez. Hanyu is so inspiring–really an ambitious, wonderful ice skater 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • sportymags
      February 25, 2017

      There is a lot of information in my archives, links to Yuzu’s older commercials, my yearly Yuzu recaps, some information about Pooh etc. Please enjoy! 😊 Happy to meet another Yuzu fan! 👍


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  9. Lucy Von Beust
    February 19, 2018

    I loved this post, I was looking for something about kukuchi-san and I found this beautiful article about Yuzuru’s team.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Luna
    February 21, 2018

    I’m working on a project for school and this really helped me out, thanks for being a source of knowledge!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Pingback: Bài dịch: Đội hỗ trợ Yuzuru – Yuzuru Hanyu Vietnamese fanpage

  12. Irina Niculiu
    June 27, 2018

    Thank you for this detailed article about YUZURU’s entourage. He is a precious gem an deserves all the love and care and support. Respect to all who give him that!

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on July 23, 2016 by in Figure Skating and tagged , .
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