Sankei Keizai Shimbun's interview with Yuzuru Hanyu, published on January 1, 2014
- You moved your training base to Canada last season
To tell you the truth, I'm just not cut out for it when it comes to making a venture out to a foreign country, not to mention the stress imposed by language barriers. The resolve to go to Canada despite all that came from a single determination that I simply want to become stronger.
- On training under the tutelage of Brian Orser, a coach renowned for having fostered Yuna Kim of Korea to become the Vancouver Olympic Gold Medalist.
At first, I felt nothing but at a loss about the cultural differences. I didn't understand the intent of what was said to me during practices, and since words couldn't express, we couldn't get our opinions across to each other. I even thought of going back to Japan on numerous ocassions. Then I taught myself how to converse in English. One way or another, that's how I've come to be able to communicate [in English] and finally establish a trusting relationship [with my team]. Now, I can verbalize what I want to say, and I get the sense that I'm running on the same track as Brian.
- Under his (Brian's) guidance, what do you think has changed?
First and foremost is the way I carry myself as I go into a competition. In the past, I couldn't sit still unless I attempted several jumping passes during the 6-min warm-up. Even during the regular (daily) practice sessions, I would attempt a significant number of jumps, with little amount of practices dedicated to steps and the likes. Under Brian's guidance, I've changed my mindset [and started to think] that in continuing to polish my technical skills, I should lower my jumping ratio and take good care of my body. Last season, as I went about each and every competition, I gained a deeper understanding [on this issue] and this season, I don't feel any sense of discomfort. We've finally shortened the distance between us.
- You've also made an improvement on what had been your main challenge, your stamina for the free.
Since Junior High School, I had had a bad habit of not doing full run-throughs of my free skating programs. Fact is [doing full run-throughs] is a factor in building stamina for skating. To make my body [instinctively] remember the timing and rhythm of my breathing, and the proper way to make use of my legs, the most important thing is to practise. This season, I started doing full run-throughs almost on a daily basis, something that used to be a once-in-a-week routine on average every year, and that's an improvement.
- On pursuing university education
With regards to say, the athletic sports and baseball, there are considerably a lot of things that have been scientifically proven. In contrast, even though figure skating has become this popular, I feel that there are still a lot of aspects of the sports that remain unravelled, which is all the more reason for me to figure out the puzzles myself. On top of that, I also get enjoyment out of it. The desire to expand my horizon as a skater was what triggered my decision to continue on to university.
- On figure skating's appeal
To get to skate alone on spacious rinks and generate cheers made for me and myself alone. Moments like that are one of the appealing points of figure skating. Even in the instances where I fall on quads, the audience in the arena will let out audible sighs of "oohs" and "aahs", won't they? That's how earnestly the fans are watching us. If they don't pay serious attention to our performance, they won't let out those nervous gasps. At the end of our performance, they will also toss a great quantity of flowers onto the ice rink for our sake. [Such support from fans] always gives me a boost of motivation and makes me think that I need to strive harder next time.
- The big stage that comes every four years is drawing near
Indeed, the Olympic Games are special sporting events. Be that as it may, it doesn't change the fact that it's just a competition. For instance, we won't qualify for the Grand Prix Final unless we leave good results in the GP series. The Olympic Games are like the culmination of four years of GP series; we've come a long way before we get to participate in it. So, I'd like to give it my all and do my very best.