Hanyu thanks fans, looks to future

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Yuzuru Hanyu speaks at a press conference in Beijing on Monday.

BEIJING — Figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu looked to the future at a press conference in Beijing on Monday, expressing his desire to perfect his “beloved sport.”

“If you ask me whether this is my last Olympic Games, I don’t quite know the answer. I think the Olympics are special, and, of course, part of me wants to skate [in the Games] again,” said Hanyu, 27.

Regarding his performance in Beijing, he said: “It wasn’t my best in terms of competition. But I’m grateful that many people cheered for me.” Hanyu finished fourth overall.

He chased two big accomplishments at the 2022 Games: wining a gold medal at three consecutive Olympics and successfully landing a quadruple axel.

“The three consecutive wins are no more, and maybe I’ve been freed from pressure. I’m satisfied with the 4½-rotation jump and happy about it,” Hanyu said with a smile.

With the quadruple axel, “I think I reached the pinnacle of jumps,” Hanyu said.

He attempted the quad axel during his free skate on Feb. 10 but fell, and the jump was judged to be under-rotated. Yet the judges acknowledged it to be the first 4½-rotation jump in history.

Hanyu also revealed that he sprained his right ankle during practice on the day before the free skate, and that he received a painkiller injection on the day of the competition.

Asked what challenges he will take on in the future, Hanyu expressed some indecision: “I have a great desire to land the quadruple axel, but there’s also a part of me that thinks it’s been completed.”

Hanyu has already qualified for the World Figure Skating Championship in France in March.

“I think about various things related to the kind of performance I want to aim for the future. I hope I can keep cherishing my beloved sport of figure skating in a bid to perfect it,” he said.

The press conference was attended by numerous media from Japan and elsewhere, an indication of the strong interest in Hanyu.

After the competition last week, Hanyu spent three days receiving treatment for his ankle, but he showed up at the practice rink Monday before the press conference, trying out the ice for the first time in four days. He skated in a relaxed manner and successfully landed a triple axel.