When Japanese figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu won the short program at the Olympic games on Thursday, the weather report inside the arena changed from clear skies to a steady downpour of Winnie the Pooh bears.
As Hanyu finished his immaculate routine to a chorus of applause, fans tossed scores of stuffed bear toys from the iconic A. A. Milne franchise onto the ice. It was an overwhelming number of bears, leading many people watching at home to ask why they were witnessing such a large-scale doll sacrifice.
Why do they throw Winnie the Pooh?
There’s a reason behind all those “little cubs all stuffed with fluff.” It’s not unusual to see Hanyu keeping company with his plush friends. In fact, it’s a long-running tradition. It all started in 2010, when fans spotted Hanyu carrying around a Winnie the Pooh tissue box, according to NBC. Ever since, fans have taken to throwing him the bears to show their affection.
Just check out plush bad boy Winnie sitting pretty back when Hanyu was practicing for the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in 2013.
And when the skater competed at Sochi in the 2014 Winter Games, he carried a Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal around with him.
A Winnie the Pooh themed Twitter account? Indeed, Hanyu has that as well (even if it’s not very active).
There may be something to these bears: After securing the top spot with a 111.68 score, Hanyu is poised to become the first male singles skater to win gold at two successive Olympics in over 60 years.
At this point, the move is expected by in-the-know skaters like Ashley Wagner.
Because it’s a routine occurrence.
But that didn’t stop the internet from freaking out over Winnie the Pooh chaos.