by AFP/ pic by AFP
TOKYO – Japan’s “ice prince” Yuzuru Hanyu (picture) will draw inspiration from his historic 2018 Olympic gold as he targets figure skating’s so-called “Super Slam” at this week’s Four Continents in South Korea.
The 25-year-old has dusted down the blueprints that helped sweep him to a second successive Olympic title two years ago and will revert to the same music that served him so successfully in Pyeongchang.
But Hanyu has admitted to struggling since becoming the first man to capture back-to-back Olympic figure skating gold medals in 66 years.
“After the Olympics I wanted to nail a four-and-a-half rotation jump,” he told Japan’s Nikkan Sports on Thursday.
“But I’ve had a few difficulties this season so now I’m focusing on my own figure skating,” added Hanyu, who arrived in Seoul earlier this week wearing a surgical mask and urging squealing fans not to approach him as a precaution against the fast-spreading coronavirus.
“It’s more about becoming stronger than winning.”
Hanyu has decided to skate to Japanese composer Shigeru Umebayashi’s “Seimei” for his free skate and Chopin’s Ballade No.1 for his short programme as he chases the only major title to have eluded him during his illustrious career.
Bidding to become the first male skater to complete the Super Slam of the junior world title, world title, Olympic gold, Grand Prix Final and continental championship, Hanyu insisted the change of music was not a purely nostalgic decision.
“Obviously there is that connotation and it’s good to back in Korea after winning gold at the Pyeongchang Olympics,” said the two-time world champion.
“But the main reason was to express that ‘this is what my figure skating is about’. That this is the way I want to skate. There are one or two areas I’m still working on, but I’m gradually feeling my way back into form.”
Hanyu will need to rediscover his sparkle quickly, having been pipped by world champion Nathan Chen at the Grand Prix Final and Olympic silver medallist Shoma Uno at the Japanese championships.
American Chen has established himself as Hanyu’s greatest rival since finishing outside the medals in Pyeongchang, winning last year’s world championships and leading his country to gold at the World Team Trophy.