Figure Skating

Hanyu Yuzuru: How his Olympic glory began at Sochi 2014

On the anniversary of Hanyu's first Olympic gold medal at Sochi 2014, we revisit the circumstances around the Japanese's triumph.

By ZK Goh ·

It's hard to believe, but it is exactly seven years since Hanyu Yuzuru won his first Olympic gold medal.

On 14 February 2014 in Sochi, the Japanese figure skater became the youngest Olympic men's singles champion for 66 years since Dick Button in 1948.

Hanyu's triumph was just one of a breakthrough international year for the then-19-year-old, who dominated the 2014 season.

Here is how Olympic glory began for Hanyu.

Showing promise

The previous season, in 2012/13, Hanyu had shown his potential by winning his first Japanese national title as well as winning silver at both the Grand Prix Final and Four Continents Championships.

He would also go on to finish fourth at the 2013 World Championships, making his mark as one to watch in Sochi for the Olympic title.

The Olympic season started brightly for Hanyu, as he won at the Finlandia Trophy in his first competition of the year.

His two Grand Prix assignments, in Canada and France, both ended with silver medals behind Patrick Chan, who would be one of his biggest rivals in Sochi.

On the day before his 19th birthday, Hanyu won the first of four consecutive Grand Prix Final titles, finishing ahead of Chan; his short program score of 99.84 was then an ISU world record.

The Sendai skater would go on to defend his national championship, earning selection for the Olympics and Worlds.

First Olympic appearance

Hanyu's first appearance at the Olympics came in the team event, which preceded the singles competitions in Sochi.

Competing only in the men's short program, he outscored both Chan and 2006 Olympic champion Evgeni Plushenko to win the segment, scoring 10 points for Japan in the process.

However, with an eye on the men's singles event, he opted not to take part in the free skate portion of the team event; Japan would go on to finish fifth.

A week later, Hanyu took to the ice again for his individual debut at the Olympics. Skating to Parisienne Walkways by Gary Moore, he opened with a near-perfect quadruple toe loop before a well-landed triple Axel.

He closed with a triple Lutz, triple toe combination and scored 101.45 points – breaking his own ISU world record.

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Free skate

Hanyu's free program, skated to the Romeo and Juliet soundtrack, was not the cleanest.

The Japanese received deductions for falls on his opening quadruple Salchow and a later triple flip.

He was also marked down on his triple Lutz, half loop, triple Salchow attempt.

However, he was still the top scorer in the segment, with his 178.64 points – despite his two-point penalties for the falls – outscoring Chan by 0.54 points.

With Plushenko withdrawing from the competition before it began, Chan was Hanyu's biggest challenge, and the Japanese had clearly outdone his Canadian counterpart.

At just 19 years old, Hanyu had become Olympic champion – the first Asian to win men's singles gold.

It was also Japan's only gold of Sochi 2014, and their second-ever figure skating Olympic title.

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After the Games

After a big celebration in Sendai, Hanyu went on to the World Championships, which were also held on home ice in Japan.

He only finished third in the short program there, but staged an impressive comeback in the free to win his first world title.

In 2014, Hanyu became the first man since Alexei Yagudin in 2002 to win the Grand Prix Final, Olympic Games, and World Championships title in the same year.

He would go on to defend his Olympic crown in 2018 and remains one of the favourites for Beijing 2022.

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