Hanyu Yuzuru and Javier Fernandez: Figure skating legends reunited at Fantasy on Ice Tour

The pair will share the ice for the first time in three years as Spain's Fernández returns to Japan, where Hanyu has been based since the pandemic, for ice shows.

By ZK Goh

It's been a long three years, but figure skating fans will finally get to see Hanyu Yuzuru and Javier Fernández on the ice together again.

The friends, former training partners under Brian Orser and Tracy Wilson at the Toronto Cricket Club in Canada, last shared the ice during the 2019 off-season, when both took part in ice shows in the summer following Fernández's retirement from competition.

Then came the coronavirus pandemic, which forced Hanyu back to Japan to train – and he has since only been abroad twice, to compete at the 2021 World Championships in Stockholm, where he won bronze, and at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics where the two-time defending champion came a creditable fourth after attempting the historic quadruple Axel jump.

Meanwhile, since retiring, Fernández has focused on his ice skating academy in Spain as well as on organising ice shows in his native country, only briefly returning after 2019 to make an appearance at a show in Moscow in November 2020 which Hanyu did not attend.

Now, finally, the duo, who are known to hold respect for each other, will get to regroup as Fernández and Hanyu take on the Fantasy on Ice tour together in Japan.

Speaking to Europa Press in early 2022, Fernández said: "I miss seeing the skaters and the team I had in Canada," referring to the Cricket Club group of Orser, Hanyu, and others.

"They formed part of me for a long time and have helped me achieve much happiness."

Javier Fernández's apology over Hanyu

Fernández, who spent the Beijing 2022 Winter Games commentating for Spanish Eurosport, had riled up Hanyu fans over his commentary of Hanyu's short program, when the Japanese skater caught his skate on the ice and singled his opening planned quadruple Salchow.

Hanyu later attributed it to a hole in the ice, which Fernández explained on commentary was a regular occurrence and could happen to anyone and could be a possible reason.

However, the Spaniard's usage of the word "excuse" did not go down well, with Hanyu's fans accusing him of "betraying" his old friend.

Fernández had to issue a clarification and apology on Instagram with a photo of him and Hanyu exchanging a high-five, insisting: "For all of those who still think that I betrayed, [disappointed] someone […] You are so wrong."

While not all of Hanyu's fans appear to have accepted the explanation, no one really knows what the Japanese legend made of it all – or if he even heard about the comments.

Fernández had visited his old stomping grounds in Canada at the end of March, catching up with coaches Orser and Wilson.

But Hanyu has remained in Japan since the Beijing Olympics, recuperating from an injury he picked up in the Chinese capital.

That means the two still haven't caught up with each other in person since 2019, when they are last known to have seen each other at the Skate Canada International Grand Prix.

Fernández and Hanyu: friendship and respect

That year, in a video for Olympics.com celebrating Fernández's retirement, Hanyu told his close friend: "I realised how special it was to practise with you. Of course I wanted to win in competitions, but practising with you was motivation for my practice and skating.

"Thank you for allowing me to come to Toronto, I'll respect you forever."

And in 2018, Fernández had told the Olympic Channel Podcast about his awe of Hanyu.

"I think, Yuzuru, he's a winner. He doesn't take second, or he doesn't take third. He wants to be the first and he is really good at that. He sells everything that he does on the ice, he sells it really well. He is an amazing athlete, a great figure skater."

Now, at long last, the two will get to see each other again at Fantasy on Ice, and reminisce about their time together in Toronto.

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