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Who is Yuzuru Hanyu?

Yuzuru Hanyu
PyeongChang2018_kr/ Flickr

Who is Yuzuru Hanyu?

Get to know Japanese figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu and his major accomplishments before he competes at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics

Yuzuru Hanyu became the first male Japanese figure skater to win Olympic gold in 2014. He won world championship titles in 2014 and 2017. He trains in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Music this season:

  • Short program: “Ballade No. 1 op. 23 in G minor” by Frederic Chopin
  • Free skate: "Onmyoji" soundtrack by Shigeru Umebayashi

Figure skating beginnings

Hanyu was born on December 7, 1994 in Sendai, Japan. He followed his older sister into the sport when he was 4 years old.

Major competitions/ medals

Hanyu became the first male Japanese figure skater to win Olympic gold in 2014. He followed up that win with a gold at the world championships a few weeks later.

He won two silver medals behind training partner Javier Fernandez of Spain at the world championships in 2015 and 2016. At the 2017 World Championships, he triumphed, winning another world title.

He has also won four Japanese national titles, from 2013-2016. He withdrew in 2017 because he had the flu.

Breakout moment

Every summer, Hanyu attended a high-altitude camp hosted by the Japanese Skating Federation to be seeded for their national championships. One year during middle school, Hanyu was happy to learn he was selected to train with the country’s top skaters at the subsequent camp.

He won the junior world championship in 2010.

Records held

Hanyu owns all three scoring records. He set the short program and total score records at the 2016 Grand Prix Final. He recorded the highest ever free-skate score at the 2017 World Championships.

Hanyu is the first skater to win four consecutive Grand Prix Final gold medals (2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016).


Hanyu’s record-breaking performances have nearly become standard. He was the first skater to surpass the 300-point total score mark, doing so in November 2015. Since then, a handful of skaters have crossed the 300-point barrier, but it’s Hanyu that still owns the records.

Olympic experience

Hanyu will try to defend his Olympic gold medal from 2014 at the 2018 PyeongChang Games.

Outside the rink

In 2011, an earthquake and tsunami hit Hanyu’s hometown of Sendai, Japan. He was practicing on the ice at the time, and he ran out of the building with his skates on. He spent three days in an evacuation center and said he was terrified. The rink did not open for four months, during which time he trained in another city. He joined Brian Orser, the 1984 and 1988 Olympic silver medalist, to train in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in the spring of 2012.

At first, Orser and Hanyu communicated using gestures to overcome their language barrier.

Hanyu describes his life outside the rink as lonely, but uses that as a way to block out surroundings to deliver perfect performances. He didn’t explore Toronto until he learned English. He says he is more of a homebody and enjoys playing video games.

Brian Orser’s week at Worlds with skaters Yuzuru Hanyu and Javier Fernandez

Brian Orser coaches world champions Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan and Javier Fernandez from Spain

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