Hanyu Yuzuru resurfaces, and the fans love it

Three months after Beijing 2022, the double Olympic champion captivates the opening night of 'Fantasy on Ice' tour - but remains mum on his future.

By Shintaro Kano
Picture by 2022 Getty Images

Hanyu Yuzuru made his first public appearance since the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games on Friday (27 May), the opening night of the 'Fantasy on Ice' tour.

But the Japanese star, who was the last skater to hit the ice on this evening, did not speak to the media after his performance as the guessing game about his future continues.

The sellout crowd at the Makuhari Event Hall in Chiba Prefecture was on its feet as the two-time Olympic gold medallist skated to a live rendition of "Real Face" by J-Pop star Suga Shikao, throwing in a triple Axel and quadruple toeloop for good measure.

After the curtains went down, Hanyu came back out on his own, pumping his fist and shouted, "Thank you!"

The 27-year-old had not skated since the exhibition gala in Beijing on 20 February. He returned to Japan a day later but had kept a very low profile since.

Hanyu on his ankle injury

As the skaters were introduced, Hanyu easily received the biggest ovation which reached a whole new decibel level when his name was announced.

And he was in some select company on this night.

From Torino 2006 gold medallist Arakawa Shizuka to new world champion Sakamoto Kaori, from Javier Fernandez to Johnny Weir and Beijing ice dance champions Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron, the world’s top figure skaters past and present were on hand.

In a brief interview with host broadcasters before the event, Hanyu said the sprained right ankle he suffered in Beijing before the free skate was more serious than he initially thought.

Hanyu ended up fourth In his third Olympic appearance, going home without a medal for the first time.

“The injury to my right ankle was a lot worse than I thought it was. There were days when I couldn’t practice but it’s gotten a lot better.

“It’s not completely healed but I’ve been working through it and I can perform without holding back now”.

Hanyu’s time in Beijing was dominated by his quest to become the first man to land the quadruple Axel in competition - but came up short.

At the Games, he appeared to be all but done chasing the quad Axel but on this occasion offered a puzzling response.

“(The 4A) is like the fuel that keeps me going for figure skating”, Hanyu said. “It’s something I want to keep challenging”.

Hanyu is set to perform at all four locations of the 'Fantasy on Ice' tour.

After skating in Makuhari until Sunday, he moves to Nagoya for next weekend. The full schedule, and list of skaters, can be found here.

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