Yuzuru Hanyu Is Figure Skating's Next Star After Winning Gold in Sochi

Ryan DavenportContributor IFebruary 15, 2014

Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan competes in the men's free skate figure skating final at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 14, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Bernat Armangue/Associated Press

Generally speaking, when it comes to the Olympics, the sports world tends to focus heavily on athletes that have already become household names because there are only so many events that people can follow closely enough during the four years in between the games.

That being said, one of the most unique features of the Olympics is the way in which the games introduce us to new heroes since there's not much more an athlete can do to attain legendary status at home after capturing a gold medal.

Well, on Day 7, we were introduced to figure skating's next big thing.

In a very closely contested final of the men's singles event, Yuzuru Hanyu edged Patrick Chan by less than five points to clinch the gold, and did so in record-breaking fashion.

During the short program, Hanyu put forth a dazzling performance, and after earning a stunningly impressive score of 101.45, the Japanese skater looked primed to cruise to gold.

But things didn't go smoothly for the 19-year-old from there, and as Liz Clarke of The Washington Post described, he needed help to stay ahead of the competition:

The result of this tactical arms race was on display Friday at the Sochi Games, where front-runner Yuzuru Hanyu fell twice in his free skate to all but hand the gold medal to Patrick Chan, only to see Chan hand it back with a shaky performance of his own.

Free skate performance aside, what Hanyu did during his short program is simply astounding. Not only did he break his own world record on the sport's grandest stage, but he became the first skater to ever receive a score above 100. 

Morry Gash/Associated Press

Furthermore, despite Chan's own struggles, the fact that Hanyu was able to hang on to the top spot despite falling twice in the free skate speaks volumes about how special his short program truly was. 

Making the victory all the more special was the fact that Hanyu became the first Japanese skater to take the men's singles title at the Olympics. Though he'd earned a bronze at the World Championships in 2012, he's set himself up to take over the title as figure skating's leading man now that Evgeni Plushenko's health is suddenly in doubt.

It wasn't the perfect way to win a gold medal, but all that matters is that he did enough to etch his name in history as one of the greatest skaters of his era.

Oh, and he ended up orchestrating one of the more memorable victory celebrations in Sochi thus far.


He was already a prominent sports figure in Japan. However, as was the case with Plushenko when he claimed silver at the age of 19 in 2002, or, going even further back, Tara Lipinski's gold at 15 in 1998, Hanyu will undoubtedly be forever remembered as one of the stars of the Sochi Olympics.