На български виж ТУК.
material from 25.07.2022
included in the book ‘The Children of the Day: born to make history’
Prepared by: Ralie Blag – Alita
Translation by: Neil Scarth
‘Brave and bold! The two-time champion of the Winter Olympics may not be in a position to make a formal defense of his title, but he did it in his own way.’
With these words one of the many television commentators on the Winter Olympics in Beijing in 2022 sums up the thoughts of many people from all over the world who have fixed their gaze on Yuzuru Hanyu’s attempt to show one more time that the spirit within is what captivates and fills with admiration, rather than a single evaluation according to some scale or rules.
Yuzuru remained 4th in the final ranking for male figure skaters in Beijing, but the challenge of trying to successfully jump the quadruple Axel and to very nearly make it is more exhilarating than all medals in the world. And the absolutely most exciting thing is when you simultaneously turn the sport into a fine art…
After his strong performances winning everyone over with spirit, technical flair and beauty on the ‘Fantasy on Ice’ tour in the middle of 2022, resembling a concert with live music and with the involvement of figure skaters from all over the world, at the beginning of the new sporting season, or on the 19th of July 2022 to be precise, Yuzuru gave a press conference at which he announced his decision to withdraw from participation in sporting events in future and to continue as a professional athlete in the way which brings him the most joy and satisfaction. Choosing his words very carefully, Yuzuru stresses that for him this is not the end of his career as a figure skatier, but a new phase with the opportunity to be on a bigger stage as a professional sportsman. He plans to continue working intensively and to show us his skills, including mastering and executing the quadruple Axel, though not in competitions any more, but rather as an athlete who primarily challenges himself.
During his enforced break after the Olympics in February in Beijing, where yet again he injured his ankle seriously (just before the free skate programme), his thoughts were focused on simply becoming better and stronger. He thought a great deal about the era in which he grew up as a figure skater, when the athletes of the ice had demonstrated performances not necessarily sprinkled with lots of jumps, but touching the hearts of the public, and he took the decision to begin a new stage in his career concentrating first and foremost on that direction. For Yuzuru, as we know, what has always been of the utmost significance is the balance between technique and artistry, i.e. between the two extremes in the sphere of his occupation, and he actually plans to continue his professional path in the pursuit of precisely this ideal of his for figure skating by investing effort in perfecting himself and becoming better and better in just this regard. What finer statement than this could we imagine?!
Because if the delight of the soul is lacking in the path taken, what is the satisfaction of the mind in having accomplished something in terms of results, actually worth? The reverse is completely valid too, of course: what is the joy of the soul worth when there is nothing constructive in the result? The mind is important in its applied and disciplining will, but it has to listen to the incorruptibility of the heart too. The leaders of the new era for me do just this: they follow their spirit from within in the inspiring union of mind and soul.
It was especially interesting for me to watch the influx of media headlines reporting on the event following his press conference. While most just announced that he was ‘retiring’ from his competitive career, as usually happens, others had really heard that the news was not just that alone, drawing our attention to the fact that there is something much more with headlines like:
- ‘This is the end of an era for the competitor Yuzuru, but also the beginning of a new one for the legend.’;
- ‘The prince of the ice Yuzuru puts an end to a legendary career and sets off on a new journey’;
- ‘The champion of figure skating will continue to give his everything as a pro too’;
- ‘The world awaits a sequel: Chapter 2 is coming for Yuzuru’;
and so on.
(The result of this statement is Yuzuru’s first solo spectacle: the 90-minute show entitled ‘Prologue’ was staged in several cities, starting with Yokohama on 04.11.2022. The next one, in February 2023, ‘Gift’, took place at the iconic venue for world concerts and sports events Tokyo Dome with 55,000 seats. Yuzuru was the first figure skater ever to perform there. – Author’s Note.)
As an especially nice conclusion to the topic I’ve selected and present below lines from an interview by Asah TV with Yuzuru from 19.07.2022.
Question: This time you’re coming down from the stage of ‘Victory and Defeat’, can I understand it like this?
Yuzuru: I think it is not so much a step down, as a step up from the phase of ‘Victory and Defeat’ to the next phase. This is also in a certain sense a sort of ‘retirement’, but I am happy that I’m crossing the boundary between amateur and professional figure skater in a completely different frame of mind. Perhaps I can’t compare and compete with other figure skaters in terms of scores any more, but I have always competed with myself, I fight with my past self, I fight and imagine myself saying ‘Look, now I’m better’. Apart from that I’ll continue to fight with everyone’s expectations and to surpass them. I’ll continue skating with a strong will.
Question: Aren’t you going to have a rest from tomorrow?
Yuzuru: I’ve not had a rest, I was training until late in the evening, including visualisation when I wasn’t on the ice. Withdrawing creates a negative mood and makes people feel abandoned, but I will be better next time, so you better look forward to it!
Question: Is this the feeling of graduating? A new beginning?
Yuzuru: This is the ‘new beginning’ I was talking about with Shuzo-san when I was 16 years old, and now I’m standing on the starting line.