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Here’s why fans throw Winnie the Pooh dolls at figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu

Watch out for the chubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff.

Figure Skating - Winter Olympics Day 7 Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Yuzuru Hanyu, who won gold in 2014 at the Sochi Olympics, is looking likely to take home gold again after he won Friday’s short program. If you saw his routine, you might have seen a handful of Winnie the Pooh toys being thrown his way onto the ice afterward.

Aside from the gesture just being plain adorable, there’s a significance behind his fans throwing Pooh bears. According to The New York Times, Hanyu is a huge fan of Winnie the Pooh to the point of it being a good luck charm:

Pooh gave smiling, uncritical approval of Hanyu, 23, in late October at an important pre-Olympic competition in Moscow called the Rostelecom Cup. Hanyu prefaced each routine with a quirky ritual, squeezing Pooh for good luck before he stepped onto the ice. He chose the Disney character as his personal mascot, according to a fan blog, because he found comfort in Pooh’s unchanging gaze.

Ever since Hanyu started bringing a Winnie the Pooh tissue box to competitions in 2010, fans took his love to heart and joined him, wearing Pooh merch and bringing Pooh toys as a way to show support. It’s their meme — there’s even a Twitter account dedicated to Hanyu’s Pooh.

Here’s Hanyu and the Pooh box in 2015:

In an interview with the Boston Globe, his coach, Brian Orser, described the typical post-Pooh scene backstage:

“You go backstage and there are bags and bags and bags,” said Orser. “Yuzu’s parents and sister and agent go through every single bag and separate all the flowers and gifts and cards and they send something back.”

Basically, every time Hanyu finishes a routine at a major event, you should expect to see Pooh bears flying onto the ice. It’s all a wonderful mess that event staff has to clean. There are going to be so many Pooh bears after Hanyu’s routine at the free skate competition — like a truckload amount of them flying everywhere.

(h/t NBC Olympics; Deadspin)

Figure skating music, explained with Adam Rippon