Ice Prince Yuzuru Hanyu retires from competitive skating

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With his youthful aura and slender build, it’s not hard to mistakenly think of Japanese figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu as still being in the prime of his youth, and at just 27 years of age, by a lot of metrics he is. However, during a press conference in Tokyo on Tuesday, Hanyu announced that he’s retiring from professional skating.

The news didn’t come as a complete shock to fans. After becoming Japan’s first men’s figure skating gold medalist at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Hanyu repeated the feat four years later in Pyeongchang. Following recurring ankle injuries and a fourth-place finish at the Beijing Olympics in February of this year, though, there was speculation that Hanyu would be retiring from competition, making it a matter of not if, but when, in many people’s minds.

“In terms of on-ice results, I’ve believe I’ve made the achievements I should, Hanyu said during the conference. “I suppose I’m no longer after that sort of recognition.”

Figure skating is unique in that it’s appreciated by fans not just as an athletic contest, but also its artistry. Hanyu intends to continue skating in a professional, non-competitive capacity, which would imply taking part in exhibitions and shows. Though he said he isn’t in a position to reveal specifics at the moment, he says he has an idea in his head for what he’d like to do. “I do not feel sad at all [about retiring from competition],” he explained, saying he is instead filled with determination and hope for his future endeavours.

“I want to continue skating, in a way that’s a better fit for the current era, to present skating to people who have never seen it before, and in a place that will satisfy the fans who have supported me,” he declared, along with “This isn’t the end. It’s a new start.”

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