Yuzuru Hanyu: Living the Life of a Figure Skating Olympic Champion

The Life of Yuzuru Hanyu

Yuzuru Hanyu’s Parents and Sister

Yuzuru Hanyu was born on December 7, 1994, in Miyagi Prefecture of Japan. His family is very supportive of his career and had been on the sidelines from the start. His parents are loving and humble, considering their son still as a child despite his international fame. Many experts attribute Hanyu Yuzuru’s strong mind and gentle heart to his family, particularly his grandmother and aunt who had taken care of him since he was a child.

Luu [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

His father is a vice principal of a Junior High School in the Izumi Ward of the Sendai city in Miyagi prefecture. His mother is a housewife who had taken a passion of taking care of her two children. His older sister used to work as a part-time staff of the Ice Rink Sendai, where Hanyu used to train as a young boy. Just like many family members of famous athletes in Japan, Hanyu’s parents never agreed to an interview. They also do not wish to appear in public to keep the peace of the family intact. They wish to support their son and brother quietly and modestly like any Japanese parent would do.

What is interesting is that his father had a noble job that meant the family lived neither poorly nor luxuriously. A sport such as a figure skating requires blades, shoes, training, and costumes. To save money, his mother made all his costumes until sponsorships for her son’s career came about.

Their son has come a long way yet still they live in such humility. After their son won the gold medal in the Olympics, media had been hounding their home. They soon moved to an undisclosed location for their peace of mind. Hanyu currently resides in Ontario, Canada as he is currently training under the wings of Brian Orser and Tracy Wilson.

Early Education and Career

In the beginning, Hanyu enjoyed figure skating more like a hobby than a career. It all started when he was watching his sister during her figure skating lessons. His teachers knew that he had talent and had the potential for competitive figure skating. But, he was not entirely up for it when he was a young boy. He used to love playing baseball and his father used to encourage him to play that as well. However, his health was not the best as he suffered from childhood asthma. This meant that playing baseball was out of the question.

His mother decided that maybe she could take her son with her daughter to figure skating class to help him deal with his asthma. It was more of a therapy than a career option at the time. There was a time as well when his parents had given him an option that he could easily quit figure skating if he grew tired of it, and instead play baseball which he also loved. However, he decided to continue on and work harder realizing his own talents and capabilities.

The Beginnings of his Figure Skating Career

His teacher knew that he had the potential for competitive figure skating, explaining that he had the body solid enough to withstand the impacts of falling. He also explained that Hanyu was always interested and eager – to try jumps, and spins, and other moves that he can see other children do. With the right amount of training, it was the perfect recipe for a future champion.

David W. Carmichael [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

He was in his fourth grade when he won a bronze medal for the National Novice Competition. This was a good sign of his future. Training more and working harder, he tried to join the National Junior Championships when he was in seventh grade. He placed 7th on his first try.

His father was firm that he studies just as hard as he trains for his competitions and Hanyu followed suit. He prioritized his education before later on deciding to become a professional figure skater. He completed for the 2007 Japan Novice Championships and won a gold medal earning him a spot for the 2007-08 Japan Junior Grand Prix he won a bronze on his first try.

Junior Grand Prix and other Junior World Championships

It was in 2008 when Hanyu debuted internationally in the ISU Junior Grand Prix. Although he did not win any gold medals, he was able to place 4th in the free skating and 6th in the short programs. Overall, he placed 5th on his first international appearance as a junior figure skater. In the same season, Hanyu joined the Japan Junior Championships and won a gold medal for the first time. At the young age of 13, he was the youngest to ever win a gold medal in this competition. Because of this gold medal, he was invited to perform for the 2009 World Junior Championships. He placed 12th overall for this event.

Competing as a Senior Figure Skater

It was only in 2011 when Hanyu started to compete as a senior figure skater. He started joining more challenging competitions and events. He made his senior international debut in the 2010-11 Grand Prix series just at the young age of 15. He joined the 2010 NHK Trophy where he ranked 5th overall and the 2010 Cup of Russia where he placed 7th overall. He also joined the 2010-11 Japan Championships but only finishing fourth overall. However, things started to pick up when he joined the 2011 Four Continents Championships where he won a silver medal.

During this season of his career, he was able to land his first quadruple toe loop jump while in competition. This is one of the hardest moves any competitor can perform and it was amazing considering that he was just around 15 or 16 at the time. Also during this time, the Tohoku Earthquake damaged a large part of his hometown in Sendai and he skated for 60 shows to raise money for victims and their families. He also used this experience as a training ground for rigorous competition in the future.

Yuzuru Hanyu’s Olympic Journey

2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

He was selected to represent the team of Japan for the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014. He performed for the men’s short program gaining a score of 97.98 points. Although the team finished overall 5th in the 2014 winter Olympics, Hanyu won his first Olympic gold during this season. He was able to break his own world record of surpassing the 100-point score in this program. He is only the second Japanese national to win a gold for the figure skating event, and the first to win in the men’s division. Hanyu was also the only Japanese national to win a gold medal for the entire winter Olympic games of 2014.

David W. Carmichael [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics

Hanyu was not a part of the Japan team but performed in the Olympics as an individual. Everyone was excited about his performance to the point that there were a hundred reporters and security detail during his practice session. He performed an amazing short program gaining him a total of 111.68 points and gained 206.17 points for free skating. This allowed him to win his second Olympic gold medal in his career.

This is an impressive feat as he revealed that he suffered from an ankle injury back in November and had been off the ice until January. For his February performance, he only had less than a month to practice his loops and jumps but still nailed every bit of his performance.

General Statistics and Profile

Physical Profile

  • Yuzuru Hanyu’s Age – Currently, Hanyu is 23 years old. He started competing as a novice at the age of 10 and for the juniors at the age of 13. He started competing for the senior division at the young age of 15. He had been skating for more than 15 years.
  • Yuzuru Hanyu’s Height – This young man is tall and slender, the perfect body for a male figure skater. He stands at a height of 1.72 meters, which is pretty tall for his age. This is what his first coach saw in him when he started training as a figure skater in 1998.

Titles and Awards

In his short career, he has won a total of 11 gold medals, 6 silvers, and 2 bronze medals. He won two Olympic championships, two world championships, four Grand Prix finals, and the other three gold medals he won for his junior performances. His latest win is the 2018 Pyeongchang gold medal for the singles division. He also won silver medals three times for the four continents championships.

What is impressive about this young man is the fact that he was able to break more than 12 world records for his performances and talents on the rink. He holds the highest short program score for all time, highest free skating score, and a highest combined total score of all time. He is the first to ever break the 100-point barrier in the men’s short. He is also the first to gain a score greater than 200 for free skating and greater than 300 for the combined total score. He also broke his own world records multiple times as he gained higher and higher scores for each competition.

Yuzuru Hanyu’s Coaches and Choreographers

Yuzuru Hanyu was coached originally by Nanami Abe and Shoichiro Tsuzuki, both were award-winning figure skaters in Japan. His former choreographers included Kenji Miyamoto and Naname Abe. At the start of his career, most of his team are made up of Japanese people. It was only much later when he gained more exposure that foreign coaches and artists wanted to collaborate with the young skater.

Currently, Hanyu is being coached by Brian Orser and Tracy Wilson in Toronto. His current choreographers are Jeffrey Buttle, David Wilson, and Shae-Lynne Bourne. All these people are former figure skaters themselves and have won multiple awards during their time. They now help the young Hanyu continue his career and success in figure skating. He is also currently a member of the Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club. He is also a famous member of the ANA Minato Tokyo skating Club but was a former member of the Miyagi FSC during his younger days.

Yuzuru Hanyu Trivia

  • Yuzuru Hanyu’s Cute fondness for Winnie the Pooh – It is quite well-known that the young Yuzuru Hanyu is quite fond of the character Winnie the Pooh that many of his fans give him toys and stuffed bears after his performances. This is a quirky but lovable trivia about the famous figure skater. The rink is rained with Winnie the Pooh plushies after his every performance.
  • Yuzuru Hanyu’s Twitter and social media – It is unclear whether or not Yuzuru Hanyu has a social media account of his own. This is in consideration of the fact that his family like to keep to themselves. It might be the case that he chooses to do the same for himself, and keep most of his life private and away from the spotlight.
  • Yuzuru Hanyu on YouTube – Many of his performances can be watched on YouTube and it is sure that anyone who will watch will get goosebumps after every performance.

Latest Updates and Yuzuru Hanyu News

Yuzuru Hanyu 2017 Competitions

In the 2016-17 season, Hanyu won his second World Title for the Grand Prix Finals. He is the first skater to land a quadruple loop while in competition. He also broke his own world record score for this performance. He then performed for the Skate Canada International and NHK Trophy for that year. He also won a gold medal for the Autumn Classic International.

Yuzuru Hanyu for 2018

After the 2018 Winter Olympics, Hanyu has been recommended for rest after suffering from torn ligaments on his right ankles. He still wishes to join the 2018-19 Grand Prix series but it is unclear if he would be medically cleared to perform. It was also announced that he is to receive the People’s Honour Award from the Prime Minister of Japan for his historic achievements in his field.