Brian Orser exclusive: Quad Axel "more of a physical thing" for Hanyu

Speaking to the Olympic Channel from Toronto, the famed figure skating coach said his star pupil is working on his physicality.

By ZK Goh

Hanyu Yuzuru is working on his physique to be able to pull off a quadruple Axel, coach Brian Orser has told the Olympic Channel.

Speaking to presenter Ash Tulloch on Olympic Channel's Instagram feature Incoming Call, Orser said the Japanese double Olympic champion has the technique to perform the jump but needs to deal with the added physicality required for it.

"Yuzu and I have talked about dealing with his quad Axel," he said. "He has fantastic technique and always has. He and I both agree it's going to be more of a physical thing, to get your body physically ready to manage that torque.

"Of course there has to be an additional bit of height, there's more power all round. And you can't just turn that on, you have to acquire it."

Referring to the current global restrictions in light of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, Orser added: "A silver lining is this might be a time for the athletes to work on those parts of their body they need to strengthen."

Disappointment at Worlds cancellation

At the Four Continents Championships in February, one of Hanyu's other coaches, Ghislain Briand, suggested the skater might attempt the quad Axel at the World Championships scheduled for March.

However, those Championships never took place, being cancelled in the week leading up to its original start date.

Orser paid tribute to his skaters who were due to compete in the event, including Hanyu, Cha Jun-hwan, Evgenia Medvedeva, Jason Brown, and others.

"That was hard, it was... disappointing, but I was really proud of all the athletes we had that they 'got it'. They totally understood what was going on in the world, and how important it is to be in isolation.

"Disappointing? Yes. Were they all in great shape and ready for Worlds? Yes. It's just a matter of doing it again, going through all the steps again next year.

"Will there be a next year? Will there be a Grand Prix series or the national championships? Who knows. Let's hope we can get the championships – the Europeans, Four Continents, the Worlds."

Medvedeva "appreciates break"

Orser said his athletes, who are now self-isolating around the world, have managed to keep in touch despite difficulties such as time differences.

"It was interesting yesterday. Jason Brown organised a group fitness session with all of the Cricket (Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club) team – Evgenia, and Jun-hwan, and Katia (Ekaterina Kurakova), and some of the other junior and novice kids from Canada. They're all in different parts of the world, and Jason was dealing with timezones," he said.

"Some skaters have stayed here in Toronto, but some skaters had to go back to their countries. Evgenia is in Japan, she's self-isolating there. She's been following the protocol very, very strict. I'm proud of all the kids for taking this really seriously. Perhaps this is just a time for all of us to reboot.

"My biggest fear is that we all get back on the ice and everybody get injured. I want to make sure that they show up and are fit and trim, that they've been doing their stuff, they've been doing rotational exercises, and are ready to go."

Speaking about Medvedeva, who ended her season early following the Russian Championships in December, Orser said the Olympic silver medallist was doing well.

"Evgenia this year when we did the Cup of Russia (Rostelecom Cup Grand Prix), I thought she probably had her best skate ever. It all came together, and it was incredible, it was athletic, it was beautiful. There were all kinds of great things we got to build on from all of her great stuff from before.

"I think she's had a realisation that she needed to give her body a rest, I think she appreciates this break right now. A lot of athletes will be missing the training, will be missing the process, and I know she's at that stage right now, that she misses it, and you need to step away from [the sport] to understand that."

Russia's Evgenia Medvedeva and her coach Brian Orser react after her performance at the 2019 Rostelecom Cup. (REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina)


During the interview, Orser also reminisced about Hanyu's and Javier Fernandez's medal-winning performances at PyeongChang 2018, before being asked to talk about his memories of his own silver medal on home ice at Calgary 1988.

"That was so much fun, the Olympics played out almost the way I had written it," he said.

"As far as the skate goes, I skated two really good programs. I kind of wrote a different ending, however.

"The Battle of the Brians, it was a big part of skating history, that's for sure. The cool thing is Brian (Boitano) and I gave these skating fans everything that they wanted.

"We didn't let them down. We were close in the (compulsory) figures, I won the short, he won the long, he won the overall.

"Nobody messed up."