Dear Yuzuru Hanyu, thank you for this season.

Dear Yuzuru Hanyu,

It’s been awhile now since I saw you at Worlds and I’ve fallen into a skating withdrawal. Looking back at the 2015/2016 season I want to say thank you. Thank you for everything you gave us fans this season.

I will always remember this season in particular. I threw myself into the sport 100% and I was fortunate enough to see you skate live twice. First came Skate Canada, I remember watching that first practice and seeing those jumps live. Gorgeous ❤️ ❤️ . This competition did not go entirely as planned but I applaud you for using it to your advantage and turning it into the greatness we saw a few weeks later.

I remember hearing the 2-quad SP plan and I thought it was hilarious, “if I can’t land the easy combo, let’s ditch it and make the program harder”. I remember watching that NHK SP alone in my bed at 2am. That nervousness and excitement. The chills of finally seeing the program clean. Thank you. I love that the reason for increasing your technical content here was never to stay technically ahead of skaters like Boyang. While this was definitely on your mind, I think you genuinely added that second quad because you wanted to push yourself and knew you could do it. And this wasn’t just for this season, you’re already planning for Korea 2018.

I was not ready for the FS that followed the next day. I still get chills thinking about that first time. That first time Seimei was clean. Those massive scores. That smile at the end. This moment might have been the highlight of my entire season ❤️ ❤️. I was not in the arena that night but I still experienced it live online. Twitter, discussion boards and a live feed were everything. Those 4.5 minutes and the hour that followed were one of my 2015 highlights.

GPF followed shortly after and everything that happened at NHK was repeated, except I got to watch it in the middle of the afternoon! I wasn’t even surprised when you did it again. Of course you did. My confidence in you was at an all time high. And your tears after the FS were precious.

I remember watching your SP at Nationals at 4am on Christmas morning in my bed. There was too much wine and I couldn’t do the FS the next night. These performances were ok. You were allowed to take a step back after the high of the past few weeks. And then you disappeared into obscurity again. It amazes me how you’re able to do that so well, especially when you’re in Japan and as popular as you are.

Next came Worlds and I still can’t find words to describe that first practice I saw or the words to describe that SP. It was everything I imagined it would be. Everything I wanted. I don’t want to discuss the FS, I’ve done that. I lived it, I never have to watch it again. But really, what does another World title really mean??

Yes Javi was amazing and you settled for silver but more than that, this brings the World title count to: Patrick: 3, Javier: 2, Yuzuru: 1. Olympic titles aside, what do these World titles mean? Is Patrick the greatest because he has 3 titles and you at the bottom because you only have 1? Is Javier going to be remember more than you because he has more World titles? No. Even with competitive years still before you, each of you are going to be remembered for things far beyond these World titles.

Patrick was the first skater to combine the technical and artistic sides of figure skating since the judging system changed. For the first time in awhile skaters needed both quads and amazing skating to be on top. The quads were gorgeous and the edges to die for. This is why he’ll be remembered. Javier is the epitome is hard work and perseverance. In recent years no skater has worked their way up from being 35th at their first Worlds to becoming World Champion only a few years later. This all culminated in his charismatic programs his season and that technically astounding skate that oozed personality at Worlds this year. This is why he’ll be remembered. As for you, Yuzuru Hanyu is the skater who wanted it most and both technically and artistically was able to catch and in a number of ways surpass Patrick when it counted most. But then, you wanted more and continued to push. And as a result we were blessed with those NHK and GPF performances this season, which in my opinion and the judges were the best figure skating performances we’ve ever seen. That is why you’ll be remembered.

I’ve talked about how Olympic titles don’t make or break a skater on a number of occasions (here and here), and really the same is true about World titles. Yes they are important and being able to skate amazing at an event of that caliber defines a strong athlete but there’s so much more. A comparison was made by I’m searching and can’t find the original post, I want to credit you for making me smile as I was leaving Boston, shortly after Worlds and I’ll share some of that here.

Yuna Kim is remembered as being one of the greatest ladies figure skaters of all time. And I agree, there is something simply magical about her. When she broke onto the World scene she was predicted to dominate but she faltered. There were moments of brilliance but also some less than stellar performances, especially at Worlds. Along with her Olympic title, Yuna only has two World titles. And they were 4 years apart! There’s also two bronze and two silver alongside those. When it mattered most Yuna often faltered. But no one remembers that. We remember the Olympics and I remember those two World titles she did win (largely because I was fortunate to see both of them live).

There are many people online calling you the greatest skater of all time. Now, I don’t want to get into a debate on that, but I do think you are the greatest skater competing today. I fully believe you are the best skater in the world right now and I am so happy you were able to prove that to us not once, but twice this season.

Thank you for continuously pushing yourself to be better. Thank you for continuing to push the limits of what you can do. Thank you for continuing to push the sport where it hasn’t gone before. As the Olympic Champion you could have sat back and probably done quite well with that technical content for the next few years. But you would never be satisfied. So you add a new jump or change your layout, and others are forced to follow. This is how we get the extremely well rounded skaters we have today. Thank you.

I am so happy I jumped on the Yuzuru Hanyu train when I did. The past 3 years have been an emotional rollercoaster ride, with both giant peaks and valleys – and that’s just this season! Thank you for being emotional and unpredictable. This has the ability to both break my heart and make me jump for joy – and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m an emotional person and I love how my emotions come out when I watch you skate. Thank you for keeping things exciting. As a fan, we never know what we’re going to get, and I love it.

I know you are currently in Toronto and I know you’re healing a foot injury. Please take the time you need to recover. Please rest. I know you’re ambitious and I know you want to better yourself in every way but this is what’s needed and this is what will get you to where you want to be. You don’t need some youngster to come and take away your second Olympic title. With some rest and allowing yourself to heal I think you’ll come back stronger than before. Both physically and mentally. I want you to push yourself. Unlike Patrick Chan 4 years ago you are still trying to find way to technically improve, which is why, as long as you’re healthy I think you just might be able to get that second Olympic title.

Thanks again for everything you gave us fans this season, now please continue to rest!


Justine Alyssa

3 Responses

  1. Hi Justine,

    Thank you for writing the heart-warming thank you letters to Yuzu, which might be read by him through Brian.

    Every words you wrote is representing the feeling in us, his fans! Thank you so much!!!

    China awarded Yuzu as ”the Best Foreign Winter Sports Athlete of 2015-2016″ and here is the news from CCTV, China Central Television, with English Subtitles: Hope you spread it through Twitter!

  2. Oh your letter very emotion, you wrote exactly what i’m thinking about Yuzu, but not like you i can’t write (including write by my native language) I appreciate him as a human a lot, not just as a athlete, he has a beautiful heart.
    I’m a big fan of football not FS, i think FS too complex and easy injured:-), except twinkle costumes a skater haven’t any thing to protect them if they fall, i’m very nervous when i watch a pair skating and ice dance, i think when Yuzu retire, maybe i’ll not watch FS, but i still read your writing about FS world, that’s beautiful and danger land. i love your feeling with FS, it’s the same my feeling with football.

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