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.
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.
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.
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,