He came, he skated and he conquered. It was a huge risk for Yuzuru Hanyu, who arrived at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang in February to defend his title after not having competed for three months. But Hanyu, never one to back down from a challenge, came prepared. Though few knew exactly what condition he was in after such a long absence, most knew he would be a strong competitor no matter what. With an entire nation expecting gold, Hanyu knew he needed to deliver.
It took just two and a half minutes for any doubts about his physical condition to be dispelled, as he delivered yet another brilliant display of quality and un-rivaled determination in the short program in PyeongChang.
Confident and poised, he came back the next day to lay down a dazzling display in the men’s free skate. The 23-year-old nailed a tough program to claim his second consecutive Olympic crown.
Addressing journalists in the mixed zone following his victory, Hanyu said he decided which jumps he would perform when he woke up that morning. “That was how I planned it. I can say that because of my injury I learned how important strategies are. I was able to prepare myself, faithfully following my plan, and I was able to control myself and do well.
“The toe loops, Axels and Salchows are jumps that have stayed with me for a long time, so I was thanking them as I going for those jumps. I was so grateful to my right ankle for holding up to the end.”
Yuzuru Hanyu joined an elite group with his second consecutive victory in PyeongChang. Only three men in history had previously won back-to-back Olympic titles in skating history: Gillis Graftstrom (Sweden 1920, 1924 and 1928); Karl Schafer (Austria 1932 and 1936) and Dick Button (U.S. 1948 and 1952).
Hanyu is only the second reigning World champion in 34 years to win an Olympic men’s title after America’s Evan Lysacek in Vancouver in 2010.
Japan is the first nation to win two medals in men’s figure skating at an Olympic Winter Games since Russia’s Alexei Yagudin and Evgeniy Plushenko who finished first and second, respectively, in Salt Lake City in 2002.
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