PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA – Yuzuru Hanyu will be “100 percent” ready to defend his men’s singles title at the Pyeongchang Olympics, his primary coach Brian Orser said Tuesday.
Speaking a day after confirming Hanyu would compete in the men’s event after deciding to skip the team event, the Canadian also insisted the two-time world champion would not even need the quad lutz that he has decided to scratch from his program as he returns from an ankle injury.
“I can just say that in the last few weeks everything has been coming together and all of us have been very optimistic and he is training quite well,” Orser told reporters at Gangneung Ice Arena.
“We need every minute between now and the competition but I have to say I am just really impressed with the way he has been able to manage all of this. Every day he keeps getting better but we have goals. We know exactly what has got to be worked on and what we have to achieve and we do it.”
Hanyu, 23, sustained ligament damage to his right ankle during practice for the NHK Trophy in November. His recovery has been slower than initially expected and he only resumed on-ice training last month.
Asked whether it was realistic to expect Hanyu to succeed in his quest to become the first figure skater in 66 years to win consecutive Olympic gold medals (American Dick Button accomplished the feat in 1948 and 1952), given he is not yet fully fit, Orser told Kyodo News, “He will be 100 percent.”
“It is amazing how we can peak pretty quickly,” Orser added. “I remember in the summer we got back training in July and saying then he’s ready for the Olympics. He was ready in August. So we have all that work behind us and it is sort of in the bank, and thank goodness for that because now it is all coming to fruition.
“We are kind of peaking again and it is mainly conditioning right now and getting some run-throughs done. But he has done a lot of conditioning off the ice so in some ways he is much stronger than ever but we need the extra time.”
Orser said that with exception of Hanyu’s quad lutz, all of his jumps were fine ahead of the men’s singles starting on Feb. 16.
“It was his decision and everyone’s decision not to do the quad lutz,” the coach stated. “He is not ready to go there and I have said all along he doesn’t need it.
“It’s basically, what are your goals, what do you have to do to be the Olympic champion again. He has some remarkable jumps and is probably the best jumper in the world. It’s quality choreography, spins, speed, there is something about how he fills up the rink. There is something special about all those things that we can all focus on.”
For the Sendai native, missing the team event starting Friday wasn’t an easy decision, Orser said.
“I know it was a difficult decision for him because at the last Olympics he did do the team event and my advice to him was that you need to think about yourself,” Orser said.
“He has his goals and wants to win the Olympic gold medal again. Then we have to say, how do we do this? The injury from the NHK (Trophy) was not in the cards for this season but it happened, and we had to be smart and recover 100 percent.
“He needs to think about himself and what his goals are for the individual (event). They (Japan) still have a strong team and I think he was smart.”