Yuzuru Hanyu is a two-time defending champion in Olympic men's figure skating. He won gold medals in Sochi (2014) and Pyeongchang (2018).
Also a five-time national champion and three-time world champion, Yuzuru is widely considered one of the greatest male figure skaters in history.
Hanyu has won two golds, three silvers and two bronzes at the World Figure Skating Championships.
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The odds are stacked against the 27-year-old to pick up a third Olympic gold medal as he is returning from injury.
Hanyu suffered a sprained ligament in his right ankle after falling over in practice on November 9. As a result, Hanyu did not compete in any of the Grand Prix figure skating events this winter.
This is not the first time Hanyu will have come back from a long-term injury in time for an Olympic Games, though. Before Pyeongchang he was injured and out of action for four months, but came back to win gold.
WHAT IS HANYU BEST KNOWN FOR?
A risk taker at heart, Hanyu became the first figure skater to land a quadruple toe loop successfully in competition back in 2016.
Ahead of Beijing 2022, he has made it his goal to become the first person to land a quadruple Axel in competition.
"At the Beijing Olympics, I am of course definitely planning to go for the win, including the 4A," Hanyu said on the Japan Skating Federation’s social media pages.
"For that, I know I'll definitely need everyone's power, so please cheer me on."
In the Japanese national championships in December, Hanyu attempted a quadruple Axel for the first time in his free skate programme, but two-footed the landing and was downgraded to a triple Axel.
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WHO IS HE UP AGAINST?
Hanyu will face stiff competition from USA's Nathan Chen in what is considered one of the great rivalries at this year's Winter Olympics.
Chen won the world title in the blue riband singles event on the past three occasions and the 22-year-old is expected to do battle for gold against his aging foe.
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Chen has great respect for Hanyu's influence on the sport and admits he has been pushed by the figure skating legend.
“I think Yuzuru completely pushed the sport into a different position, not just how he shaped me as an athlete, how he shaped the sport,” Chen said.
“Everyone is doing bigger and better things because of him. Figure skating is definitely indebted to him for all he has done to progress the sport.”
WHEN WILL HANYU BE COMPETING IN BEIJING?
The men's figure skating competition will take place from February 8-10 at the Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing.
The men's short programme will be on February 8 at 01:15 GMT and the men's free skate is set to take place at 01:30 GMT on February 10.
HOW DOES FIGURE SKATING SCORING WORK?
Nine judges rate the skaters in two categories: technical score (TES) and programme component score (PCS).
The TES component sees the judges grade the difficulty level and execution of the various moves – jumps, spins and step sequences. Each move has a base value, with judges awarding points on a sliding scale depending on how it is performed. Once the points for each move are totted up, the highest and lowest scores are eliminated. The average of the remaining seven scores is added to the base value.
The PCS scale covers:
- Skating skills
- Transitions (footwork and movement that link all elements)
- Performance (choreography, emotion)
- Composition (how the arrangement is put together)
- Performance and execution (style, precision, personality)
Like the technical component, the top and bottom scores are wiped, with the remaining seven scores then averaged. Then to add to the complication, this score is multiplied by a factor that is different for men and women to give the PCS score. Basically, this is to ensure that the TES and PCS have equal weight.
The technical score is added to the PCS for the final score for each programme/dance. Given the various intricacies, it makes it rife for debate long after the scores have been given.
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