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!
Boy, 2018 went by fast!! The Olympics finally arrived and after 4 years of waiting, it was over just like that!!! The absolute highlight of 2018 was Yuzu’s 2nd Olympic GOLD medal!! Yuzu could have called it quits right there but he not surprisingly announced he was not done yet. Oh boy.
Here are the links to my previous Yuzu: Year in Review posts if you want to take a trip down memory lane:
2018 started out with Yuzu fans anxiously waiting for any tidbit of news on Yuzu’s ankle condition. Yuzu’s rehab and recuperation/training in Canada was a blessing in disguise since he did not have to face the glare of the media day in and day out as he would have in Japan. With such a serious injury, no one knew if Yuzu’s Olympics were in jeopardy or not. Jan 2018 was not a good time for Yuzu fans.
TV Asahi Sports Award. Jan 11, 2018
For the 3rd year in a row, Yuzu won a sports award at the Annual TV Asahi Sports Award show. Yuzu was not present to accept the honour at the awards show but they showed a message from Yuzu:
“I’m spending every day with strong determination towards the Pyeongchang Olympics. I will continue to go beyond myself through extensive efforts.” (translation by @echotpe on twitter)
OLYMPICS!!!! Yuzu Hanyu, 2 time Olympic Gold Medalist!!!!
The event everyone was waiting for, for the last 4 years!! What a thrilling ride this was!! All of the pain, the tears, the emotions, the hard work came together in the best scenario we could have dreamed of!! Personally, the icing on the cake for me was that the win happened with Seimei. This is my all time favorite program and it was simply one for the ages.
I won’t recap history here again, as fantastic as it was, other than to put a link to all of my Olympic posts here, otherwise this blog entry will be 20 pages long! Suffice to say, Legendary and GOAT status was achieved!!
Olympic posts: https://sportymags.wordpress.com/2018/02/
This is one of my all time favorite photos of Yuzu. The pressure was off, and he could just enjoy himself. He is just so adorable here. After his butt spin he just flopped on the ice like a kid and laughed at himself, pure unadulterated fun!! He just loves the ice like no one I have ever seen.
I’m sure February ran right into March for Yuzu. With all of the media interview requests and sponsor commitments following the Olympics, Yuzu had to figure out how to juggle rest/rehab with all of his other responsibilities.
Worlds: After winning the Olympics, the next question on everyone’s minds was Worlds. Yuzu ended up withdrawing from Worlds in Milan to focus on his recovery. His priority after the Olympics was to take 3 weeks of off-ice rest, which meant he could spend the month of March refining the details of his own ice show!!
In April there was a huge boom of Yuzu activity!!
Yuzu Photo and Memorabilia Collection:
A special travelling Yuzu photo and memorabilia collection show was organized which saw lineups of fans over 8 hours long to get in. Yuzu-mania was in full force. Photos of the exhibit were not allowed, but there was Yuzu merchandise flying off the shelves!
According to the link above, a total of 561,048 fans visited the exhibition in 7 cities (Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Niigata, Sendai, Nagoya, and Yokohama). That’s pretty impressive!
Continues with Wings Ice Show
Yuzu had an opportunity to create and produce his own ice show. Here was my writeup:
Victory parade – April 22
It was reported that 108,000 fans showed up for Yuzu’s victory parade in Sendai.
Emperor’s Garden Party:
Yuzu was once again invited to the Emperor’s Garden party in April.
Meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
April continued with an official meeting with Prime Minister Abe.
And finally, to cap off the crazy month of April, the JSF had their annual awards ceremony.
The Fantasy on Ice ice shows started in May and continued on through June. Yuzu was able to participate this year.
JOC Sports Award: The JOC awards ceremony was held in Tokyo on June 8.
Yuzuru received a Special Honor Award in JOC Sports Awards that was held in Tokyo, June 8th for his two consecutive wins at Olympics.
Previously, he has won Newcomer Award (2009), Best Award (2013), and Special Achievement Award (2015)
Fantasy on Ice: Ice Shows
The FaOI ice shows continued in June.
People’s Honour Award
Yuzu was awarded the People’s Honour Award in the summer. It is a very prestigious award in Japan and Yuzu is the youngest ever recipient of the award. More information about the awards are in the links below.
The annual 24 hour TV special event for charity was held again in August. Yuzu performed at a special ice show in Sendai as part of this event. The program aired Aug 24-25. The ice show also featured local child skaters with Disney on Ice characters, but not Pooh (unfortunately).
August was a quieter month in Yuzu’s calendar. He went back to Toronto and informed Brian that he wanted to skate another year and re-affirmed his goal to be the first man to land the quad axel in competition.
Normally Yuzu’s official media day is sometime in late August but this year it ended up being held in early September. Along with the announcement of Yuzu’s new programs, the Champions wall at the cricket club was shown. It was nice to see both of Yuzu’s Olympic wins up on the wall. I kind of wish Yuzu’s medals were directly underneath each other, but I understand that they put up the plaques in the order they were achieved.
This is not a normal practice session!
The senior competition year also started in September. Yuzu announced that he would compete at the Autumn Classic International again and I was thrilled. It was our first chance to see the unveiling of Yuzu’s new programs; Otonal and Origin. The costume reveals themselves were an event.
October was month of near radio silence. Yuzu was quietly training, and fans were rewarded with new P&G photos/interviews, Lotte released another set of clear file folders, and plenty of new magazines were released with Yuzu on the cover. Just a normal month in Yuzu’s world.
Helsinki: The first of Yuzu’s grand prix assignments this season. It was fantastic to see Yuzu on the top of the podium in his first grand prix event of the season!! Tons of cute, adorable moments during the medal ceremony and the gala. Who can forget Yuzu basically jumping up and down, begging one of the guys in the back to lift him up for the group photo!! Just a kid a heart!!
My recaps and photos of Helsinki:
Rostelecom: Yuzu was excited to compete in Moscow as he would be able to show his Origin program in Russia and hopefully Plushy would like it. Turns out that Plushy didn’t even know it was a tribute to him! In fact, Plushenko initially missed the whole point of the program when he started giving advice to Yuzu about the content but once someone filled him in, he got it. (sigh).
I chose this picture because it really touched me. Thank you to @LANXINKAKASHI for letting me post it here. When I first saw it, it spoke to me, the long path, the injuries and everything it takes to get to the top, the loneliness of this sport, and yet the spotlight, just everything.
As unbelievable as it sounds, for the first time in his career, Yuzu won both of his Grand Prix assignments. How ironic is it that with this achievement he wasn’t able to attend Grand Prix Final. I was very sad about that.
Quick stat: Yuzu has won 10 Grand Prix events now, including the 4 Grand Prix Finals. In the men’s event, only Plushenko (22), Yagudin (14) and Chan (14) have won more GP events.
New Ghana commercial
A new Ghana commercial was released and these are super cool (video links below). I wish that the stir sticks were not so limited. But, Ghana continues to come up with fun new ideas to promote their chocolate products!
The best parts about these commercials:
Just as an aside, I went to the Grand Prix Final and the arena was so cold, I ended up drinking 12 hot chocolates over the 4 days. Ugh, it was a bit of hot chocolate overkill but it was the only way to stay warm. Of course, I didn’t have a Yuzu stir stick but I do think of Yuzu’s Ghana commercial when I drink it.
With the latest ankle injury, Yuzu was forced to withdraw from both the Grand Prix Final and the Japan Nationals. 2018 ends the same way it started, with Yuzu fans wondering how ankle rehab is going. Unfortunately, with both sides of the ankle ligaments stretched/torn, we can only expect grief from this ankle going forward. But, thinking positively, Yuzu is listening to his medical team and taking the time to rest and rehab it properly.
Throughout 2018, there were numerous Yuzu promotions with Proctor and Gamble (Yuzu Days), Ghana, Xylitol, and his other normal endorsement deals (too many to mention). Perhaps I will sum those up in a separate post, but the moments in this post were the highlights for 2018, and there were plenty!!
My Christmas Wish for Yuzu:
I hope Santa brings Yuzu plenty of quads and axels for the new year, and well, a new ankle would be nice too if it’s not too much to ask. But, I would settle for a lot of sports tape to hold Yuzu’s ankle together when he is skating. Thanks Santa.
Hopefully 2019 will bring us all many more Yuzu memories and great moments!!
Go Yuzu Go!!! Doki Doki!!