Japanese figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu just tried to make history at the Beijing Winter Olympics, attempting to become the first skater to ever land a quadruple axel in competition. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t his day.
The two-time and currently reigning Olympic ice skating champion, Hanyu had previously shared his plans to attempt a quad axel in the lead up to the Beijing Games. The quad axel is practically the Holy Grail of ice skating, being the only quad jump that had never been successfully executed in competition. As such, the ice skating community and fandom were abuzz with excitement for Hanyu’s already highly anticipated free skate performance.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest figure skaters of all time, Hanyu basically set a record for breaking world records, with 19 broken as of 2021. He was also the first skater to ever successfully land a quadruple loop in competition, executing the jump at the CS Autumn Classic in 2016.
Sadly, the quad axel still remains out of reach. Skating to “Ten to Chi to (Heaven and Earth)” by Isao Tomita, Hanyu failed to execute the extremely difficult jump during the Men’s singles Free Skating final, instead being half a rotation off and taking a fall. But in a wholesome turn of events, Twitter was immediately flooded with messages of support and sympathy.
Hanyu’s entire Olympic run unfortunately got off to a shaky start after the skater faltered during his short program on Tuesday. With an unexpected error on his first jump turning his quadruple salchow into a single, the 27-year-old ended the day in 8th position, making his chances of taking gold today slim.
Even so, Hanyu knew from the start that he likely wouldn’t win a third Olympic gold. The popular skater had a difficult season in 2021, forced to withdraw from multiple competitions due to a ligament injury in his right ankle, and originally hadn’t planned on competing at Beijing. As such, retaining his Olympic title was never his primary goal.
“Of course, I’m shooting for first place,” Hanyu said after qualifying for the Olympics last December. “But I know full well that right now, I don’t have enough to win it. Sure, I could drop the axel and look at other ways of trying to win gold but the biggest reason I’m going to Beijing is because I want to complete the quadruple axel.”
He didn’t quite make the jump and likely won’t take home a medal, but Hanyu still has a secure place in ice skating fans’ hearts.