Figure Skating Legend Yuzuru Hanyu’s Rivals Are Scared of Skating on Ice After Him- Here’s Why

Published 05/28/2022, 8:30 AM EDT

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Yuzuru Hanyu has amassed an incredible fan following in his over-a-decade-long career. Whenever he is scheduled to take part in a competition, fans line the stands with banners of his name, a majority of the audience carrying varied sizes of Winnie-The-Pooh bears.

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The two-time Olympic champion leaves an impression every time he skates, as is evident by the number of gifts thrown on the ice after his performance. Understandably, it’s daunting to take the ice after such a display.

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Skating after Yuzuru Hanyu

In an online panel discussion with Skate Ontario, Canadian skater Roman Sadovsky shed light on the pre-comp rituals. In international competitions, skaters draw lots that decide the sequence in which they’ll perform the short program. It depends entirely on luck what your number is in your skate group. So naturally, there are traditions to comfort those who draw the first slot.

“If you draw number one, you get an applause. But now, the trend is, whoever draws after Yuzu, they start applauding,” Sadovsky shared. And the reason for it is simple. Skating after Hanyu is no child’s play.

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“It’s so scary,” fellow Canadian skater Nam Nguyen chimed in. “You have to go after the two-time Olympic champion.” He added his experience of such a situation at the 2019 Skate Canada International. “For a brief thirty seconds backstage, I almost cried.”

Former Spanish skater, and Hanyu’s rival before Nathan Chen, shared a similar notion. At the 2019 European Championships press conference, Fernandez said, “After you skate in a competition in Japan after Yuzuru Hanyu, that teach you a lot”

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What is so intimidating about Hanyu?

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Not only is Yuzuru Hanyu the first Olympic title defender in 66 years, but he is also the only skater to complete the Super Slam. He has won gold at every major international competition, both junior and senior, throughout his career. Moreover, he has broken nineteen world records, one after the other. At one point, he was practically competing against himself because no one could touch him on the ice. But that’s not all. His fans are even more daunting.

USA Today via Reuters

In competition, the audience shows appreciation for skaters by throwing gifts like flowers or stuffed toys on the ice after a performance. The next skater takes the ice immediately for warm-up while they announce the scores. This initial warm-up happens simultaneously as the flower girls clear the ice of the gifts. But when you go after Hanyu, there’s barely any space for the warm-up as the entire rink is covered in Winnie-the-Pooh bears.

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This massive reaction from the audience to a competitor is enough to psyche any skater out. It takes them a long time to clear the ice after one of Hanyu’s mesmerizing performances.

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Written by:

Mansi Jain

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One take at a time

Mansi Jain is a US Sports author for EssentiallySports. She has a Bachelor's degree in Multimedia and Mass Communication from the University of Delhi and has also previously interned for HT Media. She is always one mention of Yuzuru Hanyu away from delivering an hour-long speech about the athlete's legacy.
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Edited by:

Simar Singh Wadhwa

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