MOSCOW, December 16. /TASS/. Japan’s titled figure skater and Olympic Champion Yuzuru Hanyu, who last week won the ISU Grand Prix Final smashing three world records, takes men’s figure skating to new horizons, Russia’s two-time Olympic Champion Evgenii Plushenko told TASS.
Hanyu, won the 2015 ISU Grand Prix Final, held in Spain’s Barcelona on December 10-13, for the third consecutive year thrashing three world records - short program, free skate and total score. Moreover, Hanyu, who celebrated his 21st birthday last week, is the only figure skater to win Grand Prix Finals for three straight years in the 21-year history of this competition.
"Hanyu skated simply brilliantly," Plushenko said in an exclusive interview with TASS. "He keeps pushing the world’s men figure skating further and I am very grateful to him for doing it. Moreover, I am sure that Yuzuru can skate even better."
Besides winning the 2014 Olympic gold in Russia’s Sochi, Hanyu is also the 2014 World champion, a three-time Grand Prix Final champion (2013-2014, 2014-2015, 2015-2016), two-time Four Continents silver medalist (2011, 2013), the 2010 World Junior champion, the 2009-2010 Junior Grand Prix Final champion, and a three-time Japanese national champion (2013-2015).
"By the way, he can include in his program quad loop jump," Plushenko said. "I know that his team is working on it. I wish him success from all of my heart."
Although retired in the past Plushenko stunned media in the summer of 2014 by announcing that he intended to compete for another title at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea’s PyeongChang.
Speaking about skyrocketing success of Hanyu, who broke the world records for 10 times in total, Plushenko said it would not make him surrendering his aim on the 2018 Olympics.
"I am not refusing my plans and continue practicing," Plushenko said. "If my health allows I will offer a strong competition to leaders. Everything goes with me as planned."
Titled 33-year-old Plushenko performed in four Olympics throughout his career, winning his first Olympic gold at the 2006 Winter Games in Italy’s Turin and the second in February last year at Russia’s Winter Olympics in Sochi. He retired from sports after the Sochi Olympics.
Plushenko, who also brought Russia silver medals both at the 2002 Olympics in US Salt Lake City and at the 2010 Olympics in Canada’s Vancouver and won seven European champion titles, struggled with back injuries over the two skating seasons prior to the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but kept insisting that he would be able to perform well on his home ice.
He partly kept his promise winning the gold in team’s competition in Sochi, but his withdrawal from the men’s individuals saw him not only going to Israel last year for the surgery on his back, but drew mass criticism across Russia.
During a warm-up before the individuals’ performance, Plushenko attempted a triple axel jump, but landed uncomfortably aggravating his old injury and breaking a screw that supported an artificial intervertebral disk in his back.
In an interview with the Japan Times daily after the victory in Barcelona, Hanyu said that Russia’s Plushenko was one of his figure skating idols he looked up to when he was young.
"When I was young I was dreaming to be like Plushenko or kind of like Johnny Weir [three-time US champion] or [Russia’s 2002 Olympic Champion Alexey] Yagudin," the daily quoted Hanyu as saying.