BEIJING— With what appeared like the entire world watching, Yuzuru Hanyu stepped on to the ice on the Beijing Olympics on Thursday, searching for the last word prize in figure-skating jumps that he had longed for since he was a toddler.
The dream fizzled, triggering, maybe, the top of an period.
After a dizzying build-up of anticipation, Hanyu‘s free skate to Isao Tomita’s “Heaven and Earth” opened to bated breaths, solely to see him fall on his first bounce – the quadruple Axel that he has been pursuing with all-consuming willpower.
Wearing a gold-sprinkled, aquamarine costume befitting his “Ice Prince” moniker, Hanyu then fell on his subsequent bounce too, in hanging distinction to the dazzling efficiency that earned him a second straight gold in Pyeongchang 4 years in the past.
Hanyu positioned fourth within the males’s singles contest, behind an on-fire Nathan Chen of the US and compatriots Yuma Kagiyama and Shoma Uno.
READ: American ‘Rocket Man’ Nathan Chen soars to gold in Beijing
Taking a deep bow to loud applause and touching the ice earlier than stepping off the rink, the 27-year-old struck a lonely determine sitting by himself within the kiss and cry – he had opted to not have coach Brian Orser by his aspect – intensifying the sense that this might nicely be his swan music.
“There are such a lot of feelings,” Hanyu stated later, struggling to test his feelings. “I labored onerous. I gave it every part I had.”
When requested if he would compete on this planet championships subsequent month, or proceed his pursuit of the quad Axel, or “4A”, Hanyu stated he wanted time to suppose.
Two days in the past, the twice world champion had shocked spectators by fumbling his opening bounce within the brief program – he blamed a divot within the ice – and went into the finals in eighth place.
“It was onerous to take,” he stated of that mishap. “I’ve given (skating) every part I might presumably give to today although it’s felt prefer it’s not paying off.”
Hanyu stated he had re-injured his proper ankle – he had what seemed like a nasty fall at apply a day earlier – and that he had administered photographs earlier than he took to the ice.
Requested about his third Olympic expertise, Hanyu got here near choking up, responding, “It wasn’t enjoyable in any respect. It was lots to take.”
His opponents, nonetheless, expressed solely awe and admiration.
“For my part, he’s the best skater ever,” Chen stated after his gold-medal win.
“I don’t suppose I can do what he does,” stated bronze medallist Uno. “He carries everybody’s hopes and strain on his shoulders.” —Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim; Further reporting by Sakura Murakami; Enhancing by Muralikumar Anantharaman