If you watch the 2018 Winter Olympics and in particular the figure skating, you’ve noticed that fans sometimes throw stuffed animals onto the ice. It’s actually a type of a teddy bear toss just like in hockey.
There are some small differences, though. Originally, they are meant to be presents from the fans for the figure skaters.
This means that the more fans you have, the more stuffed animals you get. And, yes, you do, get to keep them. Fans throw stuffies onto the ice after the performance of each figure skater they like.
As you can imagine, though, figure skaters don’t really keep the toys. Instead, they donate them to charity organizations and kids in need. Sometimes they do keep a plushie or two from an event as a souvenir. But most of the stuffed animals do indeed go to charity.
Olympic gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu does the same. “Some people ask me why I give away the presents from my fans. I embrace the emotions the fans give me,” he said to the Japan Times. “Every time after the competition, I am full of joy. I really appreciate the support and gifts from fans.”
After his short program on the ice, Yuzuru got quite a lot of stuffed animals from the fans. “I will do the same as in all competitions: I give them to the local community. I will donate them to people of Gangneung or Pyeongchang”, he said.
Throwing stuffed animals onto the ice as a gift for figure skaters is quite a long tradition. It goes back decades. Fans also used to throw flowers and bouquets, too. Some still do that today, but stuffed animals are preferred. They are easier to pick up and get the ice ready for the next competitor. Plus, then they can bring some actual joy to someone else. So, it’s a win-win for everyone.