Japan's ice prince Yuzuru Hanyu announces his retirement from competitive figure skating after a string of injuries
By Cheryl Teh,
Japanese figure-skating great Yuzuru Hanyu is retiring from competing professionally.
Hanyu's retirement comes after a string of close-to-career-ending leg injuries.
Hanyu said he would continue to pursue his dream of completing a quadruple axel.
Japan's "ice prince," Yuzuru Hanyu, has announced that he's retiring from competitive figure skating.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday at 5 p.m. local time, the two-time Olympic gold medalist said he was planning to continue to skate professionally — meaning he might perform in ice shows and showcases — but would not compete in further competitions.
"I will keep doing my best, including for the people who haven't been able see me perform live," Hanyu said. "I will continue to challenge myself to complete the quadruple Axel as a professional skater instead."
"Please continue to cheer me on," he said, adding that he felt he was "no longer confined to the realm of competitions" and could now "take figure skating to different places in different ways."
Rumors swirled that Hanyu would retire after he called a live press conference on Tuesday, where his managers said he would be announcing a major decision. Nikkan Sports reported early on Tuesday that Hanyu was considering either coaching other skaters, or going on tour to do an ice show of his own.
Hanyu said on Tuesday that he made the decision to retire while recovering from a serious injury sustained during the Beijing Games.
Hanyu, Japan's ice prince, clinched back-to-back gold medals at Sochi in 2014 and in Pyeongchang in 2018. He broke record after record with his sky-high scores, setting a world record at the 2017 World Championships with his free skate program, "Hope and Legacy."
Hanyu first started skating at the age of 4 before moving to Toronto to train under coach Brian Orser.
When he was 16, Hanyu's hometown and local ice rink in Miyagi, Sendai, were hit by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake. In 2021, Hanyu donated more than 31 million Japanese yen, or $225,000, to the rink, and auctioned his skates as a fundraiser to rebuild the region.
"After the earthquake and tsunami I wasn't able to skate and I really seriously thought about quitting because I just had my hands full making a living, to stay alive," he said after winning his first Olympic medal in Sochi.
Skating through career-ending injuries
Hanyu's illustrious career has been marred by close-to career-ending injuries. He won his Pyeongchang gold medal despite competing with a severe ankle ligament injury. Another leg injury prevented him from competing from April to November 2021.
Hanyu also revealed at this year's Beijing Olympics that he was recovering from a serious injury sustained during the competition, and had been told to stay off the ice.
Speaking at a press conference in Beijing, he said he sprained his ankle badly during practice on February 9, the day before his free skate on February 10. But he continued to compete and attempted to land the gravity-defying quadruple Axel, a risky jump that has never been cleanly completed by any skater.
He ended up slipping on both the attempt at the Axel and a quadruple Salchow and did not make the podium for the first time in his Olympic career.
After his final skate in Beijing, Hanyu was seen touching the ice before leaving the rink smiling, sparking speculation that he was bidding the ice goodbye for good.
—buss (@wwxwashere) February 10, 2022
"I thanked the ice because it was the last time I was performing on the rink," Hanyu said at the press conference in February.
"That said, I have two back-to-back gold medals, and I'm very proud of it. I will live my life being proud of this achievement," Hanyu said.
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