2-time gold medalist aspires to master quad axel
TOKYO — After winning two Olympic gold medals, Yuzuru Hanyu wants to master a quadruple axel.
Hanyu, who at the Pyeongchang Games became the first man to repeat as Olympic champion in 66 years, told a news conference on Tuesday he hoped to be the first, or at least one of the first figure skaters to accomplish the 4 1/2 revolutions in competition.
“No one in competition has achieved successful quadruple axel jumps and there are very few people actually practicing even during training,” Hanyu said. “I want to continue my challenge towards achieving my dream of successfully performing the quad axel, even if I may not be the first person to do so.”
The usually articulate Hanyu struggled with questions at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Japan, where he was asked to describe how difficult the jump is and to show something of it.
He dropped his head to the podium, and said a quadruple axel is like jumping rope four times while revolving twice with one’s eyes closed.
Even though top skaters have achieved success in five of the six quadruple jump varieties, only a few are practicing the more difficult quadruple axel, which requires an additional half-turn, he said.
Asked if he would go beyond that, Hanyu said he was interested.
Scientists say humans can go as far as quintuple, Hanyu said, and his childhood coach is encouraging him to go for it.
“I would like to give it a try in the future, if possible,” he said. “A quintuple and half could be beyond my reach though.”
He says those difficult jumps add to the artistry of a performance only when performed with excellent basic technique.
Hanyu, who was off ice until January while recovering from a right ankle injury, said his gold medal in Pyeongchang was not easily won. The pain in the ankle was still only “20 to 30 percent” down from the worst.
“I bet my life for this gold medal,” the 23-year-old Hanyu, who returned home on Monday, told the packed news conference. “I am alive and here,” he joked, “I am not dying.”
Hanyu said he was proud to have repeated as champion in a sport traditionally dominated by Europeans.
“I believe it was a historic step forward that I was able to win the gold medal using Japanese music for my program,” he said.
Conscious of his Japanese fans, Hanyu said he always eats rice to get energy for competition, instead of bread or pasta. But when he is not competing, he eats like most other youths and says he still stays in shape: “I go to McDonalds, I like carbonated soft drinks, and I even eat potato chips sometimes.”