At a press conference held on Tuesday, Feb. 13 in Gangneung, South Korea, Yuzuru Hanyu spoke about his injury, recovery and preparation for these Olympic Winter Games. The 23-year-old is confident that if he skates clean he can win.
On returning to competition after he injured his right ankle at NHK Trophy in November 2017:
“It has been three months since I got injured and there were times I was able to watch skating while not being able to skate myself. It was very difficult. So I am very grateful to be at the Olympic venue and to be able to practice at the main rink. The Games have not started yet, so I am not relaxing and want to show what I can do.
“While I was suffering, even after New Year, I got countless supporting messages and I want to thank all of the people. The game is not over, so it might be funny to say it now, but I want to let them know each message was appreciated and gave me the power to go on.”
On the pressure to defend his title:
“I understand not many skaters can be surrounded by as many press like I am now. I know with your coverage even more people will be listening to me and will be looking at me. I am grateful so many people will watch my skating.
“It can be described a pressure, but at the same time I am happy to be able to skate for the first time in a long time. I want to take this expectation and I want to accept it and turn it into energy. I want to show people the performance that makes them feel it was worth the wait.”
On when he started practicing triples and quadruple jumps:
“There was a long time before I was able to come back on the ice. I worked a lot on the floor doing the form of the jumps on the floor, building up images of jumps and when I came back on the ice I had this positive image. I think I started doing the triple Axel about three weeks ago and quads about two weeks ago.”
On whether he will include a quad loop:
“I need to have wise strategy. I know I can win if I give a clean performance, I really believe that. There are many choices. I have many options and what will be included in the actual program has to be decided as I am still conditioning myself.”
On coach Brian Orser coming to Rep. Korea before he did:
“There are many coaches in our club. I was mainly skating with Tracy (Wilson) and Ghislain (Briand) for jumps and getting the feeling for the jumps.”
On whether he feels the injury has made him stronger:
“I don’t feel the injury made me strong. When I was not able to skate I was able to do things I didn’t do when I would have been skating. I worked on the floor and I thought through many things that I probably would not have done if I was able to skate. So I feel those two months were not a waste.”
On overcoming his injury:
“I wasn’t exactly thinking about whether I can come back or not. After NHK Trophy, after the injury, I wanted to get painkillers and skate. But my ankle was not moving. After two months I still had some difficulty skating.
“There was a time when I was wondering if I can recover completely. But I can skate now and that is the most important thing. In the past many negative thoughts to my mind, but now I am sitting in front of this media and I’m giving you good news, not bad news and that is very important. I want to show that this is my dream stage and want to give my dream performance.”
On his focus when coming back:
“My biggest concern was the stamina, the physical strength and also getting back the feeling of the ice and skating. I had a little bit of uncertainty, but after a month of practice I am here and I feel I am ready for the Olympics, that is what matters.”
On practicing in the Olympic venue:
“I am happy to be here in Korea. I felt the same at Four Continents last year. It feels good to be here. I am still conditioning myself, there are still many elements and jumps I have not performed yet. I have a plan, so I can peak at the right time. I still have a few more days and I want to use this time wisely to peak at right time.”
On his mascot Winnie the Pooh:
“Since I was junior — even before that — I always carried a tissue box with a Winnie the Pooh cover and then the fans started throwing Winnie the Poohs on the ice. Now my room is filled with Winnie the Pooh.”