It was an announcement that took few by surprise. But with Yuzuru Hanyu moving into the professional world, a memorable era in the sport has come to an end.
When figure skaters retire it rarely draws the attention of anyone in the international press beyond those who cover the sport. But, as a testament to the respect and admiration afforded Yuzuru Hanyu throughout his long and illustrious career, his decision to leave the amateur ranks was reported by major networks and newspapers around the globe.
“I’m no longer confined to the realm of competitions,” he said. “In terms of results, I’ve achieved everything I could achieve — I have already won everything I want to win. I stopped wanting to be evaluated.”
Admire him or not, the influence Hanyu quietly exerted over the world of figure skating throughout the past eight years cannot be denied.
Not only did legions of fans from around the globe fall in love with the sport because of him, their financial investment has also been a lucrative source of income for host nations whenever he was in the lineup, with many thousands of fans flocking to competitions each year, and those events selling out within hours of tickets going on sale.
Hanyu could fill a competition venue like no other skater on the planet. Those who contested the same events as the Japanese star also benefitted from his presence. Every skater will tell you there is nothing like performing in front of a full house, and if Hanyu was in it, it was pretty much a guarantee there would not be an empty seat.
The size of Hanyu’s global fan base is also a testament to his popularity. A rarity in the modern world, he had no social media channels to promote himself or his brand, despite the fact he could have made millions of dollars in doing so. But he didn’t need to — his fans did it for him.
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