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!
So here is my annual year in review blog entry. Yuzu does so much in the course of twelve months; he is so busy!! I think Yuzu needs a personal assistant, and I am volunteering!! I am very organized!
The year 2016 was a bit unusual for Yuzu since he was stuck in Toronto doing rehab for four months due to his foot ligament injury. Usually during this time, he would have been doing ice shows, commercials, and attending other promotional events. This past year Yuzu had to learn how to rest. This was probably the biggest challenge of his career.
Putting himself and his health first instead of trying to please fans was a big challenge for Yuzu. Even Brian had to speak with him about cancelling all of the ice shows since he was really trying to get back in time. Brian kept him focused on the ultimate goal, the Olympics. Way to go Team Yuzu!!
Here is the link to my last years’ 2015 recap if you want to refresh your memory!!
So, here we go with 2016!! When I look back at this now, I do a lot of saying “oh yeah!!” because I have forgotten many of these items occurred within this last year.
Ice Shows: Yuzu participated in a special New Year’s ice show where he skated to Hana wa Saku and Requiem. It was called the NHK Trophy Figure Skating Special Exhibition.
Then Yuzu skated in a show that was to highlight the 5th year anniversary of the 2011 earthquake. It was the New Years skating gala in Osaka. Yuzu only did one program, his Time Traveller number as he was busy in Tokyo for the Sports Award so didn’t have time to rehearse the group number.
Sports Award: Yuzu was recognized at the 50th TV Asahi Big Sports Award event in January. Yuzu’s red carpet entrance was spectacular:
Video: Yuzu Sports Award Entrance
Amongst gymnasts and other figure skaters, Yuzu looks normal height and even sometimes taller, but beside baseball player, Shohei Otani, he seems so small.
Valentines Day: Ghana/Lotte presented Yuzu with another amazing cake for Valentines’ Day.
Movie Star: In February, we learned that Yuzu was going to have a small cameo in a movie called “Tono, Risoku de Gozaru”. See May 2016 for the movie release date and more details.
Special TV interview: Yuzu also had a special TV interview with Shizuka Arikawa in February.
Charity Auction: In March, there was an auction for a pair of Yuzu autographed boots. This winning bid for this auction for Yuzu signed skates was over 3 million yen!! This is about $32,000 USD!! Or, $42,500 CDN!!! The boots were not even what we call “game worn”, just new and signed!! Amazing!
2016 World Championships: (Boston) We all went into this event with the high hopes that Yuzu would recapture his World title. After a beautiful short program, it looked like Yuzu was poised to do just that. He looked like he was in top form and no one could predict what was going to happen.
I was shocked when we got silver. When I say “we”, I mean Yuzu and me. It’s funny that this is how I think, it’s how invested I am with his success. Yuzu’s success (or silver in this case) is a part of me too, as a fan. The long program was shaky and uncharacteristic of what we saw at NHK and GPF this season so I think we fell into the trap of “Yuzu will be perfect every time”.
We soon learned about the Lisfranc ligament injury that Yuzu had been dealing with for quite some time. The prognosis was not good. Yuzu was not allowed to put his skates on for 2 months, so he decided to stay in Toronto to get the medical treatment. This injury had the potential to be career ending but thank goodness Yuzu has recovered. He will always need to ice his foot after practices and events to reduce and prevent any inflammation and swelling, and monitor it but I am sure he has the best medical attention and care ongoing now.
Sendai Tourism: While Yuzu was recovering in Toronto, back home in Sendai, the city published a tourism magazine that had Yuzu promoting the sites and areas around Sendai. Too bad they don’t have a way to track the success of this campaign. I am sure many people come to Sendai now to see where Yuzu grew up. I am one of those people. Never in my life did I think I would go there, in fact, I never heard of Sendai before I knew of Yuzu.
Ice Shows: Yuzu cancelled his first ice shows in May. It was expected but still shocking news. Yuzu stayed in Toronto getting treatment.
Yuzu Movie: Although I mentioned Yuzu’s movie back in February when it was announced, the movie premiere of “Tono, Risoku de Gozaru” actually occurred in May. The reviews were excellent and people praised Yuzu in his small but important part. A movie star has been born!
Yuzu plays a lord from Sendai named Date Shigemura. He is sympathetic to the people he rules over. The producer of the film asked Yuzu to play the role since he is from Sendai. Yuzu was nervous, but looked at the role as a learning experience that would help him in his skating. The cast was surprised to learn that he would be in the movie.
On May 7, the movie premiere was held in Sendai. May 14 was the nation wide debut. This movie was created for celebrating 40th anniversary of Sendai local TV Station, KHB.
Ice Shows: By June, Yuzu had cancelled all his ice shows. Although I was disappointed having my first tickets ever to FaOI, it was probably a blessing in disguise for Yuzu. He needed to learn to concentrate on his health and his road to 2018 in Pyeongchang. Yuzu continued to stay in Toronto for treatment.
There was “radio silence” on the Yuzu front for the month of July.
So, we hadn’t seen or heard much about Yuzu all summer and then suddenly it became Yuzu-Palooza!! At some point, Yuzu went back to Japan and got caught up with all of his media, sponsor and skating obligations.
24 hour TV special: How cool would it be skating with Kumamon? Never mind that!! How cool would it be to skate with Yuzu!! It was super cool to go skating at Ice Rink Sendai during my first trip to Japan this year, I can only imagine how incredible it would have been if Yuzu appeared for that public skate.
Guinness World Records: Yuzu was formally recognized by the Guinness Book of Records for his 3 new records:
New Lotte Ghana: This year’s promotion by Ghana. Yuzu talked about his love for earphones. I love that they leave his hair more natural for their press events.
The accompanying skating commercial and the “making of” video was super cute!! The link is provided below.
Video: Ghana Making Of Video
After “Yuzu media day” at the Cricket Club, the internet was a buzz with speculation as to what Yuzu’s costume might be for “Let’s Go Crazy”! We didn’t have to wait long as Yuzu decided to attend the Autumn Classic again, this time in Montreal. Yay!!
Skate Canada Autumn Classic: (Montreal) Yuzu looked excited to debut his new programs and boy was it ever a mind blowing reveal!! Fans were treated to a “WOW, WHITE!” costume for Let’s Go Crazy and a stunning beautiful blue/green costume for Hope and Legacy.
Yuzu made history at Autumn Classic being the first man to ever land a ratified quad loop in ISU competition. Congrats Yuzu!! Looks like we will see another Guinness press conference with Yuzu next year as well!
Yuzu and Misha provided some fun entertainment after the victory ceremony where Yuzu was attempting triple axels with flowers and medal in hand.
Bedding Commercial: Also in the month of September, we were treated to another Yuzu commercial. The most fluffiest looking comforter ever and squishy pillows were endorsed by Yuzu. The videos showed the technology behind the measurement of your neck and matching you up to the correct pillow.
The promotion included additional free Yuzu treasures (gift with purchase). I love the look of the comforter although it looks a bit massive laying on top of Yuzu, I wonder if it’s as warm as it looks! Is it wrong to be jealous of a pillow?
Bathclin commercial: This must have been the most anticipated commercial of all time. Fans wondered how Yuzu would be appearing for this product. I think they did a very tasteful job given how conservative Yuzu is and how much his “brand” is protected.
Video: Bathclin Making Of
Video: Bathclin Commercial
Nishikawa Comforter Promotion: To continue the bedding promotion, limited edition Yuzu postcards started appearing in train stations. More advertisements/photos of Yuzu appeared. Fans could just peal them off the wall and it was first come first serve. If I lived in Japan, I would definitely buy one of these comforters!
Skate Canada International: Mississauga, Yuzu’s backyard!
Yuzu had his usual start to the season at Skate Canada. He was a bit slow out of the gate, but quickly picked up his game. You have to say this about Yuzu – he goes for it no matter what. He does not back down from his decisions to put new elements into his programs (4S a couple years ago, and now the 4Lo). Even though the 4Lo was causing him grief, Yuzu has the foresight to see that he needs to endure the pain now to gain the mileage he needs for the all important next season!
The “Let’s Go Crazy” white remained at Skate Canada. Personally, I did not have any issue with the white. Having seen it twice in person in 2 different rinks, under 2 different sets of lighting, I had to no trouble seeing Yuzu and the lines of he was showing us in his choreography. But, that’s history now.
Still beautiful as ever.
Xylitol Gum commercial: At the same time as Skate Canada was going on, Lotte decided to release their new gum commercial as well. Talk about information overload!! While we were trying to concentrate on Yuzu’s practices and performances at Skate Canada, social media was abuzz with Yuzu in a white waiters uniform with a gold bow tie!!! I suppose you could also call it a tuxedo, but it looks more like a waiter to me. I think it’s the bow tie, because last year when Yuzu had to wear the white suit with a gold tie, I never thought of it as a waiters outfit. Needless to say, Yuzu is one of the lucky ones that can pull off a bow tie. Not everyone can wear one successfully.
During October, ANA also released a magazine with a special interview with Yuzu. Normally in my year end reviews, I don’t included magazines otherwise this blog entry would be 100 pages long, but since ANA is his primary sponsor, I am making an exception.
The link to the English version of Yuzu’s interview is here:
English: ANA Interview English
NHK Trophy: The biggest news at NHK was the change in the Let’s Go Crazy costume colour. What a way to start of this Grand Prix event! My little purple easter bunny! Yuzu spoke about the reasons for changing the colour (discussed earlier in my NHK blog entry).
While his SP and LP were not yet perfect at NHK, it’s amazing what Yuzu can do with a solid month of practice!
With the win at NHK, Yuzu was headed for another title defence at Grand Prix Final! Yay!
Grand Prix Final: (Marseille) Yuzu won his 4th consecutive title at Grand Prix Final!! What an impressive feat that I do not think will ever be matched or beaten.
After the Short Program, the top three looked familiar to the 2014 Olympics SP results. This is the trio that was expected on the podium for sure.
I mentioned in my GPF blog entry that a changing of the guard had occurred, and by the time the event was over, here it was! It’s hard to imagine that for a long as we have enjoyed watching Yuzu, he is still only 22!! It was a really interesting transition. Let’s see what happens in Helsinki!!
At GPF, Pooh finally did his first interview!! He did very well!!
Blood Donor Commercial: For this year, the Red Cross made a new commercial that featured some new images of Yuzu and a different approach.
I found this article that may impact next year’s campaign.
Article: Blood Donation campaign to end
So, the shocker of all shockers. Yuzu had to withdraw due to the flu. Unfortunately, no 5th consecutive title streak, however, I’m sure Yuzu will be back for his 5th title overall next Nationals.
All throughout the year, Proctor & Gamble continued their Yuzu Days with new photos, and new interviews.
Video: P&G Yuzu Washing Dishes
Well, that about wraps up 2016!! Phew, I’m exhausted!!
Now onto 2017!!! May the New Year bring a World title back to Yuzu and more success next season!! HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone!!
Go Yuzu Go!!! Doki Doki!!