Yuzuru Hanyu Opens Up About Olympic Win During Solo Tour, Addresses Rare Question | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Yuzuru Hanyu Opens Up About Olympic Win During Solo Tour, Addresses Rare Question

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“With the momentum of ‘I’ve won the Olympics,’ I practiced insanely hard, and I achieved what I set out to do. It’s because I achieved it that I’m happy, but along with the joy, there’s also a sense of loneliness that has piled up together.”

He approached the final day with the aim of no mistakes. Photo: Exhibition at Beijing Olympics

In July 2022, Yuzuru Hanyu (29), who achieved back-to-back Winter Olympics victories in men’s figure skating and turned professional, held the finale of his first solo tour, “Yuzuru Hanyu ICE STORY 2nd ‘RE_PRAY’ TOUR,” on February 19th at the PIA Arena MM in Yokohama. The tour kicked off on November 4th last year at Saitama Super Arena, followed by performances in Saga Arena in January, and culminated in Yokohama, totaling six performances across three cities. The unparalleled performer, who raced through these shows filled with enthusiasm, spoke at the beginning while immersed in the lingering excitement of the energetic show.

Since his transition to professional status in 2023, Hanyu has been adamant about maintaining his identity as an athlete even after retiring from competitive events, as he declared to his fans during his first ice show after turning pro, “I’ve been working on improving my physical strength since my competitive days so that I can express myself in various ways. I would be happy if you continue to call me a ‘player’ in the future.” This solo performance lasted for about two and a half hours, and the dance he showcased on the final day was truly overwhelming.

“The theme of this ice story is for everyone to consider what they would choose and how they would feel if they had the option in life where, despite facing all obstacles, they could overcome them and achieve their dreams and goals, even if there was a route of destruction beyond the choices they made. It’s about contemplating what each person would choose and feel in such a scenario, and that’s the theme I want everyone to think about in this ice story.”

The vague images in Hanyu’s mind were brought to life through the collaboration of choreographer MIKIKO and teams responsible for visuals, direction, and lighting.

And it was unmistakably Yuzuru Hanyu’s 12 supreme performances that brilliantly colored the world view. The performances were as follows.

(1) Someday the Dream Will End
(2) Chicken, Snake, and Pig
(3) Asura-chan
(5) Messenger of Doom
(6) Someday the Dream Will End
(7) Requiem of Heaven and Earth
(8) Ano Natsu he
(9) Come, Spring
(10) Let me Entertain you
(12) Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso

The most strongly focused of all was the last program in the first half, “Messenger to Ruin,” which featured music from “Final Fantasy IX.”

An audience of 7,000 people packed the hall.

The hourglass on the monitor starts moving when there are 6 minutes remaining. Just like in actual competitions, the flow from the 6-minute warm-up to the performance signifies Hanyu’s desire to continue being an athlete. It’s easy to imagine that this performance carries the strongest message of Hanyu’s determination to remain an athlete. Interestingly, Hanyu didn’t manage to finish any of the five performances leading up to the finale without making a mistake. It’s as if he poured his last ounce of determination into this final chance, as he describes:

“I woke up in the morning, did an hour of stretching and training, went to practice for three hours, trained on the ice for another three hours, came back home, trained for another hour and a half, and did an hour of mental rehearsal before going to bed… I’ve been repeating days like this constantly. I’ve been training and visualizing even more than when I was competing.”

And the results were evident.


Starting with a smooth quad Salchow, executed with a beautiful rotation axis and a graceful landing, Yuzuru continued his flawless performance with a triple Axel, followed by a double loop, triple loop, quad toe loop, quad toe loop, Euler, triple Salchow, Euler, and triple Salchow—a sequence of five consecutive jumps, including six triple Axels, all executed successfully. The 7,000-strong audience erupted in cheers. Clearly elated, before launching into the encore performance with “Let me Entertain you,” Hanyu took the microphone with a smile and expressed:

“I finally managed to nail the ‘destruction’ without any mistakes. Ah~ Thank you very much.”

Hanyu was notably expressive throughout the day. Before the encore, he delivered nearly 10 minutes of heartfelt thoughts to the audience.

“I have so many feelings I want to convey, so many things I want to say. But, in the end, every time I finish skating this story, I’m always completely exhausted. My brain feels like it’s running out of oxygen, and I end up forgetting what I wanted to say. It just feels lonely, you know? Every time, I pour my soul into my performance. I hope that this day, even just a little, will remain in everyone’s memory or heart. I don’t need it to be significant, just like a single grain of sand, but I hope that some emotions from today will linger.” 

Hanyu spoke as if speaking directly to the audience.

FS at Beijing Olympics, his last performance as an active skater.

“And since we got a bit sentimental, let’s lift the mood and move on to the encore,” he said as he transitioned into the encore.

He spared no effort in showcasing his iconic performances from his competitive days, including “Let me Entertain you,” “SEIMEI,” and “Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso.” He gave his all until the very end, visibly taking deep breaths with his shoulders heaving. And yet, the finale, featuring Ado’s “Watashi wa Saikou,” came with an added bonus of Ina Bauer.

“I don’t have confidence anywhere, I don’t even like myself anywhere, to this tiny, insignificant self, you’ve given me so much strength, supported me, felt various things, and I’m truly grateful for that,” he expressed before leaving the ice.

After the performance, Hanyu summarized his feelings before the press.

“Throughout the tour, with each performance, I encountered various challenges, discovered what I could achieve, and found areas where I needed to evolve. Just like when I was competing as an athlete, I constantly thought about how to overcome my past self and become stronger. I practiced relentlessly, pushing myself to the limit.”

He was filled with a sense of fulfillment from portraying the grand story overseen by himself. There’s more to add to the words introduced at the beginning.

“I think I can still improve my composition, and I think I can become stronger, so I’m going to practice more.”

A skater of rare talent, she was looking firmly to the future.

  • Interview and text by Daichi Hadano PHOTO Kyodo News

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