Sometimes your favourite skater retires, and that’s ok

Hi everyone,

In the weeks following Worlds I had a number of comments on my Yuzuru Hanyu posts (here and here) from various fans stating that they started watching skating because of Yuzu and will likely stop following the sport when he retires. This really made me sad. Yuzu and his rockstar status have brought a new crowd of fans into the sport of figure skating, and that sport will still remain when Yuzu retires.

I became a Yuzuru Hanyu fan at Worlds in 2013. I’ve talked about that moment here. In the years since Yuzu has become my favourite skater. Some may even call me obsessed. I’m ok with that. I will be extremely sad when Yuzu retires (probably) in 2018. While I guess he will still skate in shows, I doubt I’d be able to see him skate again if I didn’t take a trip to Japan. This is a sad thought. It’s going to be hard, but I’ll get over it. I’ll move on. I’ll find another skater to occupy my time. This blog will still exist.

Why?? Because I’ve done it before.

My first figure skating obsession was Alexei Yagudin. I first saw him at 2001 Worlds in Vancouver and I fell in love. My 13 years old self thought he was just so pretty. I think a large part of that time I fell for Alexei Yagudin was his story at Worlds that year. He was injured and after a devastating Qualifying round he pulled himself back up to take the silver medal. The story had everything I love. Plus his style was masculine and powerful. And my goodness, Gladiator is still such a good program.

That summer I found discussion boards and fansites. And then I was fortunate to attend Skate Canada the following fall. I had my Russian flag ready to wave and I possibly even painted my nails like the Russian flag. I was very lucky and even got a photo with my favourite skater. I was obsessed with Alexei. 100%. I was just too young and the internet was too new for me to fully jump in and embrace it. Though my cousins and I did master the Winter snow spray and Gladiator slide in our own skating.

After that magical moment in Salt Lake City Alexei surprisingly didn’t retire. Despite being injured, he competed at Skate America, only to withdraw after the SP. This was devastating. He was supposed to be at Skate Canada the following week and I was also going to be at Skate Canada the following week. He never made it to Quebec City that year and never competed again. Sad. Alexei was gone.

Alexei Yagudin
Alexei Yagudin and I at Skate Canada 2001

BUT, that Skate Canada in 2002 was when I first saw Jeff Buttle skate live. In my Alexei Yagudin depression, Jeff Buttle was the light that pulled me out.

I remember the first time I saw Jeff Buttle on my tv. It was 2001 Nationals and I remember telling my cousin that I wasn’t going to do something for her, I was instead going to sit down and watch the next skater: who just happened to be Buttle. He was cute, he was Canadian. But that was it, until I saw him at Skate Canada. This blonde youngster with gorgeous edges and spread eagles to die for stole my heart. I was hooked. I wanted to know everything about him. We even managed to grab a photo with him while he was sitting in the stands that weekend.

My journey with Jeff Buttle was filled with many ups and downs. I’ll compare it more to my Yuzu obsession than Alexei. I remember being devastated when Buttle failed to make the World team at 2004 Nationals, where I watched the FS live. This is the only moment that even comes close to the emotional reaction I had in Boston during the Men’s FS.

Buttle won a silver medal at Worlds and a bronze at the Olympics and I was overjoyed! Buttle without a quad was everything the points system wanted! His basic skating and programs were just gorgeous. But then there was the disappointment of Worlds in 2006 where I saw him crumble live (I’ve seen my favourite skaters skate disastrously live on too many occasions!). There was also disappointment in 2007 where he also struggled at Worlds. After those disasters it was amazing to see him persevere and give us the performances he did when he finally won his World title. It was everything. I was so happy.

While Buttle and Sandhu were competing against each other I wrote a number of detailed analysis’s outlining why Buttle continued to come out on top. I like to think this was the beginning of my blog.

Jeff Buttle
Jeff Buttle and I at 2006 Worlds

Buttle retired after he won Worlds in 2008 and there were a good 5 years before I found Yuzu. In this time I definitely had my favourites and I definitely still followed figure skating closely but there was no one I was in love with. There was no one I was obsessed with. These 5 years is where I most closely followed Team Canada. I loved Patrick Chan and I loved Scott & Tessa. These were my favourites. These were who I was cheering for in Vancouver and the years leading up to Sochi. But while I was a huge fan and loved wearing my Canadian mittens, I was never obsessed.

Patrick Chan and I at the 2009 Skate Canada AGM
Scott Moir and I at the 2009 Skate Canada AGM

That all changed in London in 2013 when I first saw Yuzu.

I don’t know when Yuzu is going to retire. I’m hoping it’s years from now. I don’t know who my new favourite skater will be. I don’t know who I’m going to cry over next. I don’t know what flag I’m going to add to my ever growing collection. I don’t know who is going to become the new wallpaper on my phone. I don’t know who I’m going to stay up all night for to watch them live. I don’t know. Perhaps by the time Yuzu retires I’ll have a new favourite, perhaps not. What I do know right now is that no matter what happens I will not stop watching figure skating. I will not stop following the sport. Skating has been a part of my life since I was a child, and that’s not going to change anytime soon.

So, fellow Yuzu fans, it’s going to be hard when Yuzu retires. It’s going to suck. It’ll probably feel worse than watching that FS live at Worlds did. But we’ll get over it. Even when your favourite retires there’s someone, in my opinion, ready to take their place. I’m hoping another Japanese cutie will steal my heart. But before that, I’m ready for another few Yuzu years. Yuzu, I’ll see you in Helsinki! 😍

Thanks for reading. I really hope this helps some of you.

Till next time,

Justine Alyssa

10 Responses

  1. Thank you for sharing your story and cheering Yuzuru fans up.

    I am sure that Yuzu do two more Olympics before he ever think to retire.

    Many of Yuzuru-fans will stop watching the sports for sure, but they will never stop following Yuzuru because of his other talents, such as an actor, which confirmed a big success in the recent movie.

    Many people admire Yuzuru not only for he is a great skater but for other rare attractive greatness in his personalities that will continue to grow his fans even he ever retires.

    Yuzuru is that just too different, not only as a skater, and a rare to find human being beyond this world.

    Thank you Justine !

    • Justine Alyssa

      Thank you for the comment! I also hope we have many more years of Yuzu to enjoy. I like what you said about why so many people admire Yuzu, he is very special!

  2. Of course it’ll continue for you, because you obviously have interest in the sport as a whole and you also like other skaters.
    But it is also a fact tgat many, myself included, have no other interest than Yuzu. It doesn’t mean I can’t see that they are talented, it’s more that they don’t do anything for me. And yes, I saw some of them live at GPF this year, and it only confirmed that for me, this beautful story dill be done once Yuzu stops competing.
    I’m almost 40 and I know myself enough to realise that while this is a great gift, it also doesn’t come with strings attached. I don’t have to keep watching once I’m done. Skating and I can part ways without either of us suffering from it. In fact, a part of me will be glad, because as much as I enjoy watching Yuzu skate, the world of skating as a whole stinks of horribly gone wrong judging most of the time, and since I can’t stand unfairness, I’ll be very happy to not have to live through the horror times and times again.
    So, I’m glad for you, because you’ll keep having something to enjoy, but I will also support the people who won’t watch anymore because for them it was all about one skater. Both are valid points of view.

    • Justine Alyssa

      Thank you for your comment. I appreciate your opinion and support whatever decision you make when the time comes. I agree there a horrors with the judging, but I try not to dwell upon it. I try my best to focus on the skaters and my favourite skaters doing their best. Skating has been important to me for many years and I will continue. But there are others, like yourself in very different situations and that’s ok. But I hope someone as special as Yuzu does come around again for everyone to enjoy.

  3. I agree with other views that I will cease to watch Figureskate if Yuzuru, my only favorite, might retire.

    The entire ice shows in this year in Japan were now struggling to bring in people because the announcement that Yizuru resigned to attend in all event. The tickets for the planned ice shows were sold out, but now they are on the Internet, fan blogs, and everywhere for reselling at 1/20 price of the rack price, even for free.
    Many Yuzuyu bloggers mentioned, it is hard to rid of the tickets even if it is for free. Not all but most of Yuzuru’s fans refused to go the ice shows that will be held all over in Japan.

    Many people who could pick up tickets for free or least will be there instead of Yuzuru fans.

    • Justine Alyssa

      Thank you for the comment. I heard this was happening in Japan in Yuzu’s absence. It really makes me sad that people are so focused on him and hardly care about some of the other skaters. Yuzu is by far my favourite but I’d still go to a show if he cancelled. I understand that many only care about Yuzu and I respect your decision to stop watching skating when he retires. But I hope at least some of you give other skaters a chance.

  4. oh my god. you must have a lot of money because you’ve watched Yuzu LIVE so many times!
    and me? I haven’t even been outside of my country. I don’t even have a passport (for now)

    • Justine Alyssa

      Thanks for the comment! I’m lucky he’s come to Canada a few times, and Boston was close. However I am paying a lot of money to go to Helsinki for Worlds. But I’m sure it’ll be worth it! I hope you get to see Yuzu soon!!

  5. Until a year ago I was still secretly hoping that Yuzu would continue skating after the OG, thinking that it’s too young to retire at 23. But after what happened at 4cc and worlds, I changed my mind completely and I would be really happy if he decides to retire after the OG. Looking at his scores last season, I get a feeling that he’s not welcomed to stay in FS, that ISU can’t wait for him to go so that they can start “pushing” the new generation of skaters (same feeling I have for Patrick Chan, though not as strong as for Yuzu).

    And yes you’re right, it’s won’t be that bad when your favourite skater retires. For the Japanese fans (and the media) they can easily move on now that they’ve found their new prince. For the skating world they have the new gens who are capable of jumping 4lo4f4lz (although some of them prerotate the jump so much on the ice it’s not exactly a quad when they land, but who cares), Yuzu probably doesn’t excite them anymore, he can go. For minority fans like me who started watching FS because of Yuzu and are still watching only because of Yuzu, of course we’ll feel sad once he leaves, but we will also feel relieved because finally we don’t have to deal with the unfairness and all the B******* in the judging anymore. I’m tired of hearing Yuzu talking about how he needs to practice harder to improve his GOE and pcs scores, it just doesn’t work that way. In fact all he needs to do is to change nationality or to change his surname to one that starts with “U”. I have had enough of all the trash talk he’s getting from other skaters/coaches/fans/media, older or younger, retired or currently competing, outside Japan or inside Japan. He’s too good to deserve all these S****. My only wish now is that he gets what he wants, including the Olympic gold medal in Pyeongchang, that is what he truly deserves.

    While I agree that in the future there may be new skaters who are more talented, cuter, stronger … new champions whatsoever, nobody can take yuzu’s place in my heart, because i respect and admire him not only as an athlete, but also as a person. I once picked up some interest for FS and have actually started watching ladies and pairs competition, and started learning the technical aspects of the sports, unfortunately ISU (and some skaters) just kill all my interest last season. Once Yuzu leaves, I will leave.

    Sorry for the long post. I’ve been reading your blog since 2014 and I’ve always enjoyed reading it. I’m very grateful to read the moments you shared with Yuzu, especially pre-Sochi era, they are very precious and touch my heart a great deal. Thank you.

  6. Until a year ago I was still secretly hoping that Yuzu would continue skating after the OG, thinking that it’s too young to retire at 23. But after what happened at 4cc and worlds, I changed my mind completely and I would be really happy if he decides to retire after the OG. Looking at his scores last season, I get a feeling that he’s not welcomed to stay in FS, that ISU can’t wait for him to go so that they can start “pushing” the new generation of skaters (same feeling I have for Patrick Chan, though not as strong as for Yuzu).

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