PYEONGCHANG: Defending men's Olympic figure skating champion Yuzuru Hanyu vowed on Tuesday to deliver "a dream performance" in Pyeongchang to reward his huge army of adoring fans.
The Japanese rink idol completed his first full practice session — quads and all — at the Gangneung Ice Arena where on Friday his quest begins to become the first skater since American Dick Button in 1952 to win back-to-back titles.
With the Sochi 2014 and world champion's every move watched by coach Brian Orser and several hundred fans, Hanyu looked lithe and agile on his comeback after a three-month injury layoff that almost destroyed his Korean adventure.
"It's been three months since I got injured, there were times when I was only able to watch skating, not be able to skate myself, so I'm very grateful to finally be here at the Olympic venue to practise," the 23-year-old said.
Hanyu was addressing a press conference which could have been mistaken for downtown Tokyo in rush hour such was the size of the Japanese media scrum.
With his floppy fringe falling over his eyes he looked around the room and said: "I understand not many skaters can be surrounded by so many press like me now.
"With your coverage they will be listening and looking at me and I feel so grateful that so many people will be watching me skate.
"So many people are waiting for me to skate, I want to give them the performance to make their wait worth it.
"This is my dream stage and I want to give my dream performance."
Malaysia’s figure skater Julian Yee is competing in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang and his event will start on Friday.