Hanyu: 'I want to give a dream performance'

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GANGNEUNG, South Korea - This was a moment the Japanese press had waited three months for.

It had been agonizing for them to go that long starved of any real contact with Yuzuru Hanyu, the 23-year-old skater their country adores, the skater who also has won fans worldwide with his boyish charm and unsurpassed excellence in the sport since winning the Olympic title four years ago.

So, along with a few foreign colleagues, Japanese media filled the 150 seats in the Gangneung Ice Arena press conference room Tuesday morning. A few dozen others stood. Camera shutters hummed like cicadas on a hot summer afternoon.

The press conference lasted 23 minutes, with nearly half that time taken for translating questions and answers from Japanese to English. But the chance to hear Hanyu say anything more than hello was enough after a virtual radio silence that had lasted since he injured a ligament in his right ankle on a fall at an NHK Trophy practice session Nov. 9.

His hair still flopped into his eyes. He smiled easily.

"He's in great spirits," his coach, Brian Orser, said.

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