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Japan’s first gold medal in men’s figure skating at the Sochi Olympics
Harnessing study at Waseda to live a life of competition

Yuzuru Hanyu

At the Sochi Winter Olympics, Yuzuru Hanyu achieved Japan’s first gold medal in the men’s singles figure skating program. On April 24 (Thu.), Hanyu visited Waseda University and discussed his recent successes with President Kaoru Kamata. As Hanyu is enrolled in the e-School, this was the first time he had visited the campus. “I’d only ever seen Waseda in photos, so I’m really glad I was finally able to come. Waseda really is a big university, isn’t it?” said Hanyu, speaking of his impressions on his visit.

Hanyu chose Waseda University because of Shizuka Arakawa, a woman who graduated from Hanyu’s own high school and who is the figure skater whom Hanyu most respects. “Ms. Arakawa took the gold at the Torino Olympics, and I learned she had attended Waseda University. Athletes are immersed in competitions, so I think we have few opportunities to make ourselves more well-rounded. But she is very intelligent and human, and someone whom I greatly admire. That’s why I decided to study at the same university as she did.”

Shaking hands with Waseda President Kaoru Kamata. Hanyu, triple crown winner, discussed winning gold at the Grand Prix Final, the Olympics, and the World Figure Skating Championships.

Once the skating season starts, Hanyu engages in long hours of training each day. Between training, however, he also actively pursues his studies through the e-School. Via the Internet, Hanyu watches videos of courses and sends off homework and reports from his computer. Hanyu feels there are many merits to Waseda University’s e-School program. “Being able to study anywhere immediately after finishing training is easy and convenient. I particularly like psychology and sensory information engineering courses because they tie directly into skating.”

His studies also help Hanyu to improve his competitiveness. For example, learning ways to maintain focus and confidence when performing in front of large crowds. Before every match, Hanyu is sure to listen to music with a pair of earphones and sing quietly along. This helps Hanyu to increase his focusing by shutting out the surrounding noise and psyching himself up. Hanyu says he developed this habit based on information from his courses.

Of course, even when Hanyu steps out onto the rink with a positive image held in his head, he is not always able to skate the way he would like. At these times, however, Hanyu does not panic. He always maintains his cool and concentrates only on giving the best that he can give. This powerful force of will is one of Hanyu’s strengths.

In addition, pulling off difficult techniques is not everything in figure skating. It is also necessary to balance artistry and expression while polishing technical abilities. “The need not only to win but also entertain the audience is what makes figure skating difficult. But that’s also the most interesting part, and whether you can enjoy it or not depends on your eagerness to explore things. Through my studies at Waseda University, I have been able to research the breadth of expression, techniques, and how to prepare myself mentally. I am so happy to be able to have done so well for everyone.”

Hanyu speaks vividly of his success. When asked what he would like to do at university going forward, Hanyu responded, “Actually, I’d like to go to the Waseda Festival. Although it’s difficult because it’s in November and that’s during the skating season, I’d be happy to go after competitions have calmed down a bit or retiring, so I’m looking forward to going someday.”

Harnessing his characteristic technical abilities, artistry, and a sense of exploration cultivated at Waseda, Hanyu will aim to achieve another, consecutive gold medal at the PyeongChang Olympics in 2018.

Hanyu was handed a stuffed likeness from the Waseda Bear at a report meeting.

Slightly self-consciously, Hanyu gives a double peace sign while strolling in Okuma Garden.


Yuzuru Hanyu
Second Year, e-School, School of Human Sciences

Originally from Miyagi Prefecture, Yuzuru Hanyu graduated from Tohoku Senior High School. Hanyu likes to listen to music by Bump of Chicken, back number, The Sketchbook, etc. to psych himself up before a performance. He loves Winnie the Pooh, even bringing Winnie the Pooh goods to the rink during competitions.