Yuzuru Hanyu: Golden Start to Season

Elina Paasonen
Yuzuru Hanyu

Japan’s young star, Yuzuru Hanyu, got the new season off to a good start, winning the Finlandia Trophy in October in Espoo, Finland.

The 18-year-old led after the short after popping the Axel, but landing a quad.

He hit two quads (Salchow and toe loop), in his new “Romeo and Juliet” free program and earned 265.59 points overall. “I was not in very good condition today, so I was happy about the quad toe and Salchow. At the end I was so tired that I was very satisfied I didn’t fall down,” the bubbly teenager said. “My training at home has been going well, but when I arrived here my condition wasn’t really good so I tried to remember the good condition I had.”

It was the second consecutive victory for Hanyu at this competition. He decided to come back again this year as he said he really liked it.

Hanyu’s preparation for this season, under the tutelage of coach Brian Orser and choreographer David Wilson in Toronto, was productive. “I wanted to be stronger and to have more stamina. I had to do more run-throughs and skate more programs and I did that,” Hanyu explained.

He has kept his very successful Blues short program to “Parisian Walkways” and said he focused more on the long over the summer. “I brushed up my short program. It is the same as last year so I spent more time on the long program,” he said.

The long program, however, is also familiar. Hanyu’s “Romeo and Juliet” routine is set to the soundtrack of Nino Rota. He had previously skated to “Romeo and Juliet” in the 2011-12 season, but to a different soundtrack by Craig Armstrong.

Hanyu is following the trend of many prominent skaters this season by returning to a former successful program. He said he has his own reasons for this. “When the earthquake hit Japan (in March 2011) I was using this music and in that season I finished third at the World Championships,” he said.

“This music gives me a lot of memories and feelings, that’s why I wanted to use it. Also, the Olympic Games is not something that happens every year, it comes around only once in four years. I think you should show the result of four years, so also the music and the experience is the result of four years.”

Hanyu said Finlandia Trophy was a good preparation for the Grand Prix. “I was not successful with the combination jumps, so I will work on that for my first Grand Prix, Skate Canada,” the reigning Japanese champion said. He said he also wants to continue doing more complete run-throughs of his programs in practice in order to develop more consistency and stamina.

Another important goal for the 2012 World bronze medalist is to continue to improve his artistic impression. “I think I can only jump,” he said with a laugh. “I think that I am focusing too much on the jumps. I want to express more emotions while I am skating. My former coach Nanami Abe always emphasized showing emotion during skating and my choreographer David Wilson also emphasizes that and is teaching me.”

Obviously, the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi next February are the main goal of the season. Hanyu has already been to Sochi – he competed at the Grand Prix Final last December, finishing second to his teammate Daisuke Takahashi. “I had a very good impression about the place and I had a very good experience there, so I would be happy to visit again,” he recalled.

“Actually my skating was very good there, that’s why I have a good memory of the place. I remember that I went jogging with my coach Brian Orser alongside the Black Sea.”

If everything goes according to plan, he might find himself once again jogging on the beach of the Black Sea resort in a few short months from now.