Two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu walks away from competitive figure skating
Two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan is stepping away from competitive figure skating, he said on Tuesday.
Hanyu seemed to leave the door open to some possible return. However, he seemed to focus primarily on professional skating in exhibitions.
“It never ends,” Hanyu said. « I’m not retiring or anything. I’m going to be better and I’ll work hard in my performances in a way that will make you think I’m worth watching.
« I don’t like the word ‘retirement’ so I don’t really want to use it. »
Hanyu won back-to-back gold medals at the 2014 Sochi Games and the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. But he finished fourth in Beijing five months ago and hadn’t made a commitment until the conference. Tuesday’s press conference at the Tokyo hotel.
« I’m not going to participate in competitions from now on, » he said. « Of all the things I’ve done so far, I think I’ve gotten what I should have in terms of competitive results. I also feel like I won’t be looking for those kinds of ratings anymore. »
Might keep trying the quad axel
The 27-year-old Japanese skater is also a two-time world champion and four-time Grand Prix Final champion. But it failed in an attempt in Beijing to become the first to land a quad axle in competition.
He indicated that he could continue trying to land the quad axle.
« I don’t feel particularly sad, » Hanyu said. « I would like to do my best from now on and I think there will be more opportunities to see my skating in different ways – not just in the limited competition space. »
Hanyu doesn’t have much left to prove. He’s been the most-watched skater in the world for a decade and the sport’s standard of excellence. He was the first Asian man to win gold in Olympic figure skating.
His road to Beijing was strewn with pitfalls. Hanyu admitted he struggled to find the same motivation for Beijing that led him to his two Olympic gold medals.
Covered in Winnie the Pooh bears
Since 2010, when he was seen carrying a box of tissues with Winnie the Pooh on it, his legion of supporters have showered the ice with hundreds of teddy bears rather than traditional flowers every time he competed.
They almost covered the ice with a yellow blanket when Hanyu triumphed at the Pyeongchang Games.
There were only a few thousand fans allowed inside the tightly controlled Olympic venue in Beijing to watch Hanyu, and they were prohibited from throwing anything on the ice, a protective measure imposed by organizers to minimize the potential spread of COVID-19.
Instead, they massed outside the gate of the arena, hundreds of them standing in the cold February sun, waiting with their cubs for Hanyu’s bus to pass and say goodbye.