Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu said the healthy rivalry he has with reigning world champion Javier Fernandez pushes him to reach new highs, and he believes he will display that elevated performance in Pyeongchang in February.
The Japanese and Spanish skaters have been training alongside each other under coach Brian Orser at a Toronto ice rink, both hoping to outperform the other to ensure it is they who stand atop the podium at the upcoming winter games.
"It means a lot to have someone like him near you. I hope we can continue to take advantage of each other in a good way," Hanyu said recently.
Figure skating events will be held in the 12,000-capacity Gangneung Ice Arena, alternating days with short track speed skating, another of the sports which promises to have the highest of profiles in South Korea.
Japan's share of men's figure skating tickets, which were only made available to lottery winners, sold out fast, according to Japanese ticket vendor Ticket Pia.
Hanyu will be seeking his second straight Olympic gold after he earned the men's crown at Sochi in 2014, when Fernandez missed out on a medal and took fourth.
Fernandez, who is three years older, has since won two world championship gold medals with Hanyu settling for silver on both occasions.
But Hanyu bounced back to reclaim the world title he had won just once before in 2014 when he and Shoma Uno completed a one-two finish for Japan at the 2017 championships in Helsinki, Finland, in April. Fernandez fell short in his three-peat bid and finished fourth.
In an interview with Kyodo News after last month's Autumn Classic International in Canada, Orser said it surprises him the 22-year-old Hanyu is still hungry to learn new tricks after having won one Olympic gold, two world championships gold and four Grand Prix Final gold.
"Javi and Yuzu know how to train. They know what they need to do. And they arrive at the rink prepared mentally to do what they should do and what we have written on paper. And they're both good at staying with the plan," Orser said.
In his season-opening event at the Autumn Classic, Hanyu finished second behind Fernandez, and was second again in the Oct. 20-22 Rostelecom Cup in Moscow, the first of the six-event Grand Prix series. With Fernandez skipping the event, the title went to American Nathan Chen.
In Pyeongchang, Fernandez, Spain's Opening Ceremony flag bearer at the Sochi Olympics, will be looking to become the first Spanish athlete to win an Olympic medal on ice.
Hanyu's challenge will be to become the first man in 66 years to win back-to-back Olympic gold in figure skating and come out victorious over his archrival and friend.
"Even while we're training together I'm able to keep the competitive fire burning (by) thinking I'm can't lose (to him)," Hanyu said.