This story first ran on YahooSports.com on February 15, 2018, and can be seen here.
Japanese figure skater Yazuru Hanyu finished his opening routine of the men’s individual event on Friday with a final score 111.68, the second-highest Olympic score ever in the event.
Almost instantly, dozens of stuffed Winnie the Pooh bears rained down on the ice from applauding fans.
Not just the flowers or stuffed animals that usually make the rink following a routine, but specifically Winnie the Pooh teddy bears. They were everywhere.
When he was younger, Hanyu used to put a Winnie the Pooh tissue box cover on the scoring board on the ice rink for good luck. As he kept skating, fans took the idea and ran with it. His bear even has its own Twitter account.
Now the bear follows him everywhere. His coach Brian Orser would sit the bear next to him during his routine, and Hanyu has even been seen hugging the bear for good luck before the routine.
His “good luck charm” isn’t allowed with him rink-side in PyeongChang, though, due to corporate sponsorship rules. Even though his talisman couldn’t watch his routine on Friday, fans still made sure the bears presence was felt.
But where does the obsession originate? Even Hanyu isn’t sure. He just rolled with it.
reporter: why this obsession with winnie the pooh?— jardin (@michaeljardins) February 13, 2018
yuzuru, laughing: i don't know how to say. winnie has been with me since i was a junior or younger. i always carried the tissue box, and fans started throwing them onto the ice. now my room is filled with winnie the poohs.