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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Olympic Special: Japanese Gold In Figure Skating and The Canadian Connection

Yes... I'm sure all you Japanophiles are well aware that Yuzuru Hanyu (surname first), 19, did indeed win a Gold medal in Men's figure skating at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

He did it after a record breaking skate in his short program on Thursday when he set a world record for points... and followed it up with a good enough performance in the long program on Friday, February 14.

Congratulations to him. I watched his short and long programs, and after that short program... damn... that was the best skate I have ever seen in my life. I was breathless. Maybe I need to exercise more.

I don't even mind that Yuzuru defeated my countryman, Canada's Patrick Chan (Silver medal).

Chan, by the way, was the 2011, 2012, 2013 Men's World Figure Skating champion, and was the favorite to be the first ever Canadian to win a gold in this event at the Olympics. Chan after a so-so 2010 Olympics decided that to be the best he would take things up a notch and became the first skater to do two quadruple jumps in a program--essentially forcing every competitor to follow suit or automatically fight for second.

Until these 2014 Olympics, no one else did. That's why Hanyu's performance was brilliant.

What is interesting, is that after the flawless short program, Hanzu fell twice in his long program - and everyone is thinking "uh-oh". But Chan... he fell once and stumbled three more times and still ended up with the Silver, which tells you just how far behind everyone else is as far as flair and talent.

Now... for all of Hanyu's Japanese-ness and how that's a Gold medal for Japan, allow me to rain on your parade just a bit. He owes a great deal of his success to his coach, Brian Orser of Canada.

Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu and coach Brian Orser of Canada.
In fact, Hanzu actually trains here in my hometown of Toronto - probably because that's where Brian Orser lives. Orser won Silver in the Olympic games of 1984 and 1988.

Orser, by the way, also trains Spain's Javier Fernandez, who after a couple of mistakes ended up in fourth place. Javier and Hanyu do indeed train together and push each other and I think both are lucky to have Canadian Brian Orser as their coach.

At this Olympic figure skating competition, I would be remiss if I did not mention the last waltz of Japan's Takahashi Daisuke who was the 2010 World Champion, 2x silver medalist in the world championships (to Chan) and a Bronze medalist at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games.

Takahashi Daisuke in Feb. of 2013.
Takahashi retired after his skate, which was good enough to grab 6th place, but beyond that, he was the reason that men's figure skating became popular in Japan.

Takahashi skated his last long program to a Beatles medley. It was a long and winding road. Bravo.

I should also mention that Machida Tatsuki (surname first) came in 5th at these games... which means Japan was 1st, 5th and 6th in the Men's Figure Skating competition at the Sochi Games.

That... is one hell of an accomplishment!

Lastly... I have a nit to pick regarding the newly crowned Olympic champ Yuzuru Hanyu.

The only thing I did not like about his performance in the long program skate was his choice of costume. Even my wife commented at just how feminine it was. That image at the VERY TOP... that's what he wore. Yuck.

Since the days of Canada's Elvis Stojko (World Champion in 1994, 1995, 1997, Olympic Silver medal in 1994 and 1998) who has a martial arts background, the men's figure skaters began to dress like men again.

This year's Olympics was no exception - except for Hanyu.

Buddy... I have no idea what your sexual orientation is - and I don't care what it is, but at least try to dress like a man. This was the MEN's figure skating competition and I dare say that Hanyu's shirt was more feminine than what the women wore.

My snide remarks about Hanyu aside re: costume, Hanyu is indeed a force! If he can stay healthy, there is no reason he won't be skating away with the Gold at the 2018 winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Andrew Joseph


  1. Yuzuru can wear the clothes he wants to wear and clothes don't have a gender. Maybe you should try to be a bit more open minded.

    1. I agree with you - I should be MORE open-minded. He can wear whatever clothes he likes. It's my complaint against the male figure skating industry as a whole. I did call my remark "snide" in the story... and I did say I don't care if he's straight gay or other... I truly don't. But, I did feel that his clothing was overly feminine... and while I stand by my own opinion, I agree that Hanyu CAN wear whatever clothing/fashion he wants. Thanks for writing. I will try not to be as flippant in my remarks in the future... and I think since I wrote this, I have been.