Moscow gripped by Yuzuru Hanyu fever ahead of 2018 Rostelecom Cup

Moscow stocks up on Winnie the Pooh toys as the Japanese double Olympic Champion figure skater practices

Fans dressed as Winnie the Pooh can mean only one thing: Yuzuru Hanyu is in town.

The double Olympic champion figure skater completed a practice session.

Even out of competition, fans still flock to see the Japanese 23-year-old in action in Moscow.

In the Russian capital, Hanyu is well placed to win the 2018 Rostelecom Cup and earn his ticket to next month’s final in Vancouver.

After claiming the event in 2011, last year Hanyu finished behind the winner Nathan Chen, who is the reigning world champion.

Adoring fans

Dave and Stiho Scehoening came all over from San Francisco to watch 'the Prince of Ice':

"He’s really a model for a lot of youths," Dave said.

"We were here last year too. His performance speaks to your heart," Stiho added. "He’s an all-rounder, he’s not just about jumps. His skating is beautiful as well."

Sonya, 12, from Russia can't wait to get an autograph from her idol.

"I became his fan because he is very special. Today, I saw him for the first time in real life".

Winnie the Pooh

Fans gathered to catch a glimpse and take photos of Hanyu as he headed for practice from his hotel to the Megasport Arena.

His bus had to be followed by security to keep the fans at bay.

“Security officers will be on the bus…so that the girls do not throw themselves under the wheels,” Alexander Polinsky, the General Director of the Directorate of sports and entertainment events of Moscow told Tass.

Winnie the Pooh toys have been stocked in shops around the venues.

Last year, the event organisers collected 11 boxes of Pooh bears that were thrown Hanyu’s way onto the ice after his short program.

Hanyu has a special fondness for the Pooh bear. He usually positions his good-luck charm in a prime spot to watch over as he skates - and sometimes even at news conferences.

And at the end of competition, fans normally throw the dolls on the ice to appreciate the skater's performance.

Winnie the Pooh dolls on sale
Winnie the Pooh dolls on saleWinnie the Pooh dolls on sale
Even more Pooh bears ready for Yuzuru Hanyu
Even more Pooh bears ready for Yuzuru HanyuEven more Pooh bears ready for Yuzuru Hanyu

Practice session goes to plan

At the official practice, Hanyu seemed to pick up where he left off at the Grand Prix in Helsinki.

He set three world records and is looking to stay injury-free as he bids for a fifth Grand Prix Final title.

"First of all, I want to get through official practice without any trouble," said Hanyu prior to the session at the official news conference.

Last season, he injured his ankle injury seriously which threatened his bid to become Olympic champion but he managed to retain his title.

"I'll take care to avoid a repeat of what happened last year."

Hanyu needs only to secure a top three finish to qualify for the Grand Prix Final in Vancouver in December.

Hanyu practices in Moscow
Hanyu practices in MoscowHanyu practices in Moscow

Kazuki Tomono

Hanyu was also pictured with Japan teammate Kazuki Tomono.

The 20-year-old was selected to complete a the 2018 World Championships in Milan after Hanyu withdrew.

He finished fifth overall and his breakout performances have secured the Japanese team three berths for the 2019 World Figure Skating Championships.

Judging from his Instagram - Tomono seems to like noodles.

Yuzuru Hanyu and Kazuki Tomono
Yuzuru Hanyu and Kazuki TomonoYuzuru Hanyu and Kazuki Tomono
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