by Kitty Hu
(11 February 2013) After winning the 2010 World Junior Championship, everyone predicted that Yazuku Hanyu from Japan would become the World or Olympic Champion someday in the future, but never said that might be as soon as London or Sochi. But coming to the last World Championship before Sochi, this 18 year old Japanese young man has became so competitive, he is spoken of as a contender for the 2013 Worlds and even the Olympics in 2014.
At the 2013 Four Continent Figure Skating Championship, Hanyu scored 87.65 to place first after the short, but was surpassed by Kevin Reynolds from Canada who landed three quad, one combination jump included, moving up from 6th place in short.
Skating in front of his home crowd but losing the title, Hanyu seemed so disappointed after the free skating. "This season I have not skated a clean long program. I have known that there are definitely some problems with my long program, some weak points. And I showed all of them in this four continent championships. But I also learned and got experience from the event. I think it will connect to the next," Hanyu said to the media before the Gala on Monday.
Hanyu won the ISU Grand Prix NHK Trophy and Japan National Championship, placed 2nd at Skate America and GP Final this season, and additionaly he renewed the world record with a score of 95.32 in the short program at NHK trophy.
But he hasn't yet skated a clean long program. At Four Continents he landed a very beautiful quad toe loop at the beginning of the long, but doubled the Salchow after that, and singled the Lutz for the second half as what he did at the short. "For the Salchow, my timing was probably a bit too fast and I know that I have not been able to successfully land the quad during the competition. I learned from this event that I should training the quad toe and quad Salchow together. It is very important for me. Given this is an ISU championship event, I was something nervous as well. But for the Lutz, I don't know what happened with that. I have had a good training during the official practice. For the result I am quite satisfied to get my second medal at Four Continents, but for my performance, I am just disappointed. Maybe I should feel lucky that this is not the World Championship."
Brain Orser, who Hanyu turned to train with after the 2012 World Championships, said this event is not Hanyu's goal, so he has not adjust their training schedule for this event. "I know that Yazuku is not feeling good after the competition, but the competition is going like that, you should performed your best at the right time. I need to peak his condition for worlds, and I am sure that Yazuku has got something from this event."
It was Hanyu made the decision to change coach and training place after worlds. "I watched Javier"s program in the past season, saw he land two kinds of quads in his free, I just want to do like him," said Hanyu .
When he went to Toronto in April, Orser didn"t show him how to land the second quad in the program but let him do lots of foundation training, like skating, dance and the gym at the beginning. "Foundation skills are very important. Brian said that everyday to me. When I was at Sendai, I trained my jumps for the most time every day, because jumps can win me scores. I think that was the most different thing after I came to Toronto." As time has passed, Hanyu has found that his jump quality and success rate going up with his skating foundation. "Now I felt more stable and confident when I am taking the ice."
Going to his first ISU Grand Prix this season at Skate America, he scored 95.07 for the short which broke the word record held by Patrick Chan at 2011 Worlds. "Maybe changing the training spot gave him much more influence, even though, his progress in the past year still surprised me, it was beyond my imagination," the former world championship medalist Minoru Sano said when he was commentating for the competition during the live broadcast.
Hanyu went to Orser for the higher goal than a medal in worlds for sure, and Orser reached an agreement with Hanyu. With that, they showed their ambition is for Sochi.
As Yuna Kim's former coach, and two-time Olympic medalist, Orser has lots of experience on preparing the big events. He even mentioned Yuna as a example. "I don"t think winning all the events going to the Worlds is good for a skater. Like Yuna - she was second place at the Grand Prix Final before Vancouver. [Actually, Yuna was the winner of that event, but she finished 2nd after Miki Ando for the short program.] I"m sure that the loss here will make Yuzuka stronger. He knows what he should improve. Winning here will give him more pressure, because he will think he has just got enough for the Worlds, but the loss will give him more motivation. So I don't feel worried about him now. After the free skating, I talked to him and felt his fighting spirit and determination from his eyes," Orser said in the mixed zone after the Medal ceremony following the men's free skating.
"I think because this event is held in Japan, the fans and media put too much attention on the rivalry relationship between Daisuke and Yuzuka," Orser said. "For sure they are the favorite skaters to win here, but it also was an unfavorable fact for them, benefiting the underdog. There were other skaters who also had a chance to win, like Kevin. He really did a good job in the free. I congratulated him just now, it is an important win for him. And I also know that Daisuke will be hurt today, but this is sports."
Orser added, "Going to Worlds, there are not only Yazuku and Daisuke, Patrick Chan, Javier and more competitive skaters will show up there. I think the most important thing for Yazuku is to focus on his own program and skating. There are still weeks to go, Yazuku has the chance, I think London will be a big story."
Hanyu was back to Toronto right after the Four Continents, where he trains with Javier Fernandez from Spain, who just won the first European Championship gold medal for his country. "I have not met Javier since he left for European championship. Training with him gives me a lot of motivation and encouragement," said Hanyu. But he joked that he felt regret he couldn't have Valentine's day in Japan, because it is a very good atmosphere and he could get chocolate from fans and friends. "Chocolates from fans make me very happy," he said, "but I still long for chocolate from my girl friend, Unfortunately I don't have a girl friend now."
Talking about training before the worlds, Hanyu said, "I trust Brian, and Brian always trusts me as well. We have a schedule for the Worlds. I have confidence to improve my program, and peak my condition at Worlds. I want to show my best skating in both the short and free. Of course my goal is to win the title, that is an inflexible goal of mine."
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