12 May 2012

Yuzuru Hanyu Interview


Here you can find an interesting interview to Yuzuro Hanyu, the promising young skater who charmed us all at this year Worlds in Nice.

The translation of the Hanyu interview is not made by me, but by yoko71. A link to the original interview and to yoko71 translation can be found at the bottom of this post.

Enjoy your reading!

He gave everything he got to that performance - it still glows in my mind even though several weeks have passed.

Yuzuru Hanyu won the Bronze Medal at his very first Worlds back in March in Nice, France. At 17, he was the youngest Japanese man to do so. After having been regarded as the next figure skating star after his accomplishemts in the Junior circuit including the gold medal at Junior Worlds, he made quite a stride in two senior seasons. At Worlds, he showed us everything - his reliable quad, great flexibility, and the charisma.

It has been almost a month since Worlds. Yuzuru showed up at our interview in Sendai, and opened his mouth with a bit of a shy smile: “I may be overpraising myself, but I really do think I did pretty well in my first Worlds.”

It isn’t an overpraise, however, considering he even thought about withdrawing on the night before SP.

On march 29, Hanyu was practicing for next day’s SP. Throughout the season, he struggled with the 4TLo in SP. So he chose to keep trying it 5-6 times instead of quitting after 2-3 tries. That is when he landed an under-rotated 4tlo and felt a pain in his right ankle. He sprained it.

He could not walk at all that night. It was swollen the next morning.

“I thought about withdrawing when I could not walk that night.”

In the end, he decided against withdrawing.

I thought about all the people who support me, the team doctor, trainer, my mother who came with me, and felt that I owed them to do it.

He ended at the 7th place after SP in which he singled the triple lutz.

“I didn’t expect to double the second part of my quad combo, and then I didn’t land a very clean 3A. After that, I think my injured ankle affected my performance. I did try to protect my ankle while performing. WIth all that, and my lutz taking off on the right foot, I must have hesitated.”

He was disappointed that he could not end SP within the top 6. But more than anything, he was mad at himself for getting injured.

“I was most mad at me for getting injured. The sprained ankle resulted in the poor performance. I was mad at me for the practice.”

How did Yuzuru regroup for the FS that was coming up the next day?

“I thought about all the people around me. My mom told me I did well considering the situation. She and I talked about that I did okay because of the immediate support from the team doctor and trainer as well as the moral support from the audience and fans back home. When I realized that I am supported by so many people, I decided that I will give everything I have the next day.

He began his FS. He nailed the quad at the beginning, followed by a flawless performance. The audience’s cheer started to become louder and louder. Then he fell.

“I fell while I was on my left leg. I think my left leg was exhausted because I was trying to protect my right foot. Yeah, I was mad. Excuse me for my word choice, but I yelled ‘$#@%^&’ during the following jump.”

How did he regrouped so quickly from the fall?

“I heard the audience’s encouraging cheers when I fell. That made me want to do the best I could. Sure, I felt the pressure - Worlds is a huge competition. But the audience cheered louder because it was Worlds, and I think I was able to use all that, the pressure, the significance of the competition, the audience’s cheer, to my advantage.

After the fall, he finished the rest of the program flawlessly. The audience applauded even more emphatically. Hanyu did a small fist pump, then he bent over as if to bow.

“I rubbed my right foot and thanked it for holding up. I was just so thankful for my right foot!”

His FS earned 173.99, and the total was 251.06. Both the FS and total scores were well above his season’s best. In the end, his FS TES topped that of Chan’s. Depite the little fall, it was a great performance.

“It must have been hurting when taking off and landing jumps. But I didn’t feel any pain because I was so focused.”

The pain returned when he was being interviewed in the mixed zone. I started to feel the pain while I was standing and getting interviewed. But I didn’t want to maken an excuse because talking to the media is how I can thank all the people who have been supporting me. After the mixed zone, though, I rushed to take of the boots and had my ankle iced. (laughs)”

In the end, he never even talked about the sprained ankle during Nice 2012.

“I didn’t want to let people know about it. Some workers and media people saw me with the ice, but the team doctor and trainer covered up for me by telling them that the ice was for a preventive purpose.”

This episode - that he didn’t let anyone know about his injury - reflects his personality. He didn’t want to reveal his weakness.

Hanyu watched his own performances on video afterwards.

“I saw me protecting my ankle every now and then. But maybe I skated with more care because of the injury. Also, it was important that my mind remained cool. The audience totally helped me with my last step sequence, the one that begins with my yell, with the loud cheers and vigorous clapping. During the step sequence, I was thinking - I’m gonna let the audience help me with this so I can conserve the last bit of my strength for the jump that’s coming up. I am so thankful that the audience gave me the strength. The owe the bronze medal to so many people.”

Before the season began, Hanyu said his goal for the season was to finish the season strong. His truly kept his words by skating an extremely strong FS at Worlds.

While discussing Nice 2012, he repeatedly mentioned that the fans and supporters gave him strengths. He said he changed a lot during the past year.

“The earthquake and tsunami changed me. The experience defined who I am.”

He was at his home rink in Sendai practicing when the earthquake struck on March 11. The ground swayed so greatly that it was not possible to stand or walk. He crawled out of the rink.

He and family spent several days at an evacuation shelter.

“It was hard, and I was sad. It was very hard to think about my and my family’s life and future. I was very sad about my hometown Sendai.

There was no electricity and no TV. There was little information about what was happening in the entire region. Finally, newspaper was delivered that showed the awful disaster.

“I saw pictures of the tsunami and all the damages. I was overwhelmed by sadness. I couldn’t think about skating. Even if I did think about it, I wouldn’t have talked about it.”

Despite the circumstances, he was able to start skating again within 10 days of the disaster.

“Several skating coaches invited me to their home rinks. It was starting to look like my family was able to settle down to a semi-permanent living arrangement, so I decided to go stay with a coach in Yokohama who used to look after me.”

Going back on ice would have been a welcome step forward at this point. However, he could not get his mindfocused on skating. He kept feeling guilty: (Why am I even skating? Why am I jumping, spinning and skating while so many people are suffering?)

“I should have been ecstatic about going back to skating, but in reality, I felt burdened. I didn’t know what to do. It was the most difficult time.”

The difficult times ended in early April, when he participated in the charity ice show in Kobe hosted by Daisuke Takahashi and Kenji Miyamoto. He skated in fromt of an audience for the first time after the quake. The audience cheered him on as he spoke in front of them as well as skaed an encore.

This show got him to start looking forward to skating again. He then skated in many subsequent ice shows.

One of those shows was an invitation-only show in late July in which those who were still living in evacuation shelters were invited.

After its finale, all the skaters left the rink and the show was over. Hanyu returned to the rink alone, and jumped a quad. He then waved at the audience and left the rink.

“I wanted to land a good quad during the program but couldn’t. I was unhappy with myself that I couldn’t do a perfect performance for those who are still living in shelters. To me, quads are the most difficult thing I can do, so I wanted to convey to them that their difficult situations will change as they remain positive and move forward.”

In the end, he skated in 60 ice shows.

“I wanted as many people as possible to see me skate. Also, by participating in shows, I was able to use the rinks for training, since my home rink wasn’t going to be repaired until summer.”

Before each show, He would come to the rink early so he could train. Traveling wasn’t easy, but this way he was at least able to prepare for the new season.

At every show, he was made to feel like he was representing Tohoku. He didn’t particularly like it.

“Toward the end of the summer when the season was approaching, I was definitely getting tired of being looked upon as a skater repping Tohoku. I wanted to be a skater, not “a skater from Tohoku.” I hated every time the media talked about me and mentioned that I was from Tohoku.”

In the end, though, he was able to come to terms with it.

“I think my attitude changed around the end of 2011. Now I feel honored to be repping Tohoku. If people associate my name with the disaster, and I remain as a top skater, then the disaster will not fade in people’s memories. This gives some meaning to me being here.”

He used to say he was skating for Tohoku. But at some point, he started saying that Tohoku was giving him strengths.

“After Japanese Nationals, I had some free time so was able to read the fan mails. Then I realized that there are people who are helping me help people. Because of those who are supporting me, I am able to help. I realized that it is me who is being helped instead of the other way around.”

He wrote a reply to every single one of ~500 fanmails.

“Lots of things happened and I had to deal with so many feelings and thoughts during the past year. Up until 3.11, I was like an innocent child, just chasing after my own dreams. But now I know that I am here because of all the people who support me. Now I know that I want to do well for those who support me.”

He continues that his performance has become more expressive because of all the things that happened since 3.11.

“There were incredibly difficult times, and there were great joys. I think I became able to handle a wider range of emotion because of these experiences. The joy I felt back in April when I skated for the first time in front of an audience was greater than any joy I felt before. Because of the disaster, I experienced stronger emotions than I ever felt before. I feel like I need to express these emotions, and also I feel like I am more capable of expressing them now.

The disaster that struck Hanyu also made him experience strong emotions. It made him more mature as a skater and as a human being.

By the end of the season, he had become one of the top international skaters. He talks about what is next for him:

“I want to become a great all-around skater. I want to be known as a skater who is good at everything. That would be the way to become an unbeatable skater. For now, my weakness is the skating, so I want to focus on skating. I hadn’t done much formal training on dance and expressions, so I think I want to take dance or ballet lsessons.”

In order to further grow into the skater that he want to be, he made one important decision.

He decided to part with Nananmi Abe who was his coach for many years. He chose Brian Orser as his new coach.

He first thought about Orser when he read an article on a skating magazine. The article talked about Orser’s Cricket Club in Toronto, and discussed how it boasts a number of coaches who take charge of different aspects of skating techniques.

“I’d never been in an environment where I would train alongside other top class skaters. That’s what made me want to move to Cricket Club. I want to be ready for Sochi. I will miss Nanami-sensei. I discussed this with her, and she gave me her whole-hearted blessing. So, I really want to work hard, for all the people who support me, and especially for Nanami-sensei.”

Yuzuru Hanyu is determined to keep reaching for the top. He has big plans for Sochi.

Sources: Starting Small (for the English translation) and Number 803号 2012年5月10日発売 独占インタビュー 松原孝臣 文 羽生結弦「恩返しの旅は続く」(for the original interview)


  1. Cara Laura - non riesco a leggerla tutta - torno altro giorno. Comunque grandissimo Yuzuru .....
    a questo punto c'è solo da domandarsi dove sarebbe potuto arrivare se non avesse avuto la distorsione.
    Ma soprattutto c'è da aspettarsi una bellissima carriera - folgorante e luminosa - in particolar modo ora che collaborerà con il mitico Orser

  2. Sì in effetti è un po' lunga. :p Non vedo l'ora di vederlo la prossima stagione, chissà cosa ci farà vedere... :)

  3. Cara Laura la penso proprio come tè riguardo a Yuzuru mi ha davvero affascinata e non vedo davvero l'ora di vedere che programmi porterà la prossima stagione ........ e che cosa uscirà dalla sua collaborazione con Orser ;-)