Talkin' 'Bout Coaches, Their Styles and Approaches
The thread title looks a bit crap to me, but anyway, here we go...
The season has ended for some skaters (sob) and we hear some coach changes taking place, and we fans have started debating who should be coached by who. So I thought it is perhaps interesting to discuss about different coaches and their styles and approaches.
To kick start, here I post my translation of the article about Nobuo Sato, whose current and former students include Takahiko Kozuka, Mao Asada, and Shizuka Arakawa, to name a few. The article appeared in Nihon Keizai Shinbun Newspaper (equivalent of the Financial Times in Japan, and believe it or not, they do provide insightful and informative articles on sports as well as on stocks and shares) in both print and online, in March 2011.
There are three parts, based on an interview with Nobuo and his wife and fellow coach, Kumiko, talking about Nobuo's competitive career in the 60s, his early days in coaching, and what he believes in as a coach. Hope you enjoy it!
I am also planning to post a translated article of the similar nature about Utako Nagamitsu, Daisuke Takahashi's coach in the next day or two.
Part 1; His illustrious students
He teaches adult skaters in the afternoon. Nobuo Sato (aged 69) takes a hand of a lady in her 80s, and her skating improves immediately. There is no difference in his sincerity in teaching between now and when he faces Takahiko Kozuka and Mao Asada.
His attitude is earnest. ‘She started skating in her 50s’, he says, ‘this rink (Shin-Yokohama Skate Centre) is warm so the ice surface melts slightly and becomes ideal to skate on. Good ice helps skating skills to improve. Advance in the facilities supports the current success of Japanese figure skating.’ His honesty and sincerity is apparent in the way he talks.
It’s been 60 years since he first skated. He was introduced to the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame last year; he is the second Japanese person to receive the honour. His history reflects the post-war history of Japanese figure skating. He was a 10-time Japanese National Champion, and his achievements include the 14th finish at 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics, the 8th finish at 1964 Innsbruck Olympics, and the 4th finish at 1965 World Championships. He is the first person to land a triple jump in Japan too.
He retired from competitive skating in 1966 and got a day job in a company. However, there were only 6 years left before the first Winter Olympics was to be held in Sapporo, Japan, and the JSF made him a coach for the Japanese team. He coached Kumiko Okawa, whom he was to marry later, and Tsuguhiko Kozuka, Takahiko’s father, preparing for 1968 Grenoble Olympics. ‘I was too involved and busy by then, taking on a number of students, to write even a self-evaluating sheet for my day job, so I quit.’ He left the company and became a full-time coach.
Just like his personality, ‘his coaching style is honest and realistic’, his daughter and 1994 World Champion, Yuka Sato describes. And that coaching style helped to produce many successful skaters, including former Japanese Men’s Champions, Minoru Matsumura and Masaru Ogawa. Since he started coaching together with his wife Kumiko, he taught Yuka and Takahiko from the scratch.
Those who came specially to be coached by him include Fumie Suguri, Yukari Nakano, Miki Ando and Shizuka Arakawa. ‘It was impossible to turn down such a keen and enthusiastic offer’ he says about the latest addition, World Champion, Mao Asada. They are all illustrious skaters in the history of Japanese figure skating.
There is no secret method as such in his coaching; if anything, he’s always ready to acknowledge what were wrong with what he’s done and to change for better accordingly. ‘People often say we need continuity and integrity in the way we coach, but I believe it is OK to negate what you’ve done.’ For example, in the old days, it used to be important to keep the good straight posture while skating so that skates could run fast and smooth; but since Toller Cranston (Bronze medallist at 1976 Innsbruck Olympics), it is now considered to be better to dance, bending the torso, while skating.
What was the mainstream yesterday becomes what is obsolete tomorrow – it happened all the time. ‘I sometime think I’m outdated. But I have no qualm about accepting and introducing something new, as, for me, it all started as mimicking (of foreign skaters) even when I was a competitive skater myself.’
Many unexpected, however, have happened, one after another, lately. Nowadays, there are a lot of voices coming from outside the traditional inner circle of figure skating; in addition to coaches, skaters now have choreographers to listen to, agents if very popular, and parents who are so emotionally invested in their children’s success. He says with a sigh, ‘it has become very complicated to coach since 1998 Nagano Olympics.’
Nevertheless, he does not appear to take those seemingly negative changes too seriously after all. Kumiko says, ‘he is very easy-going, contrary to what many believe. He does not get bogged down by minor details. That’s the reason why he is still willing to coach.’ His students’ age ranges from 6 to 83 years, and to teach them all, he still stays on ice from the morning till the night.
Part 2; Discovery of the wide gulf between Japan and the West
Osaka, 7 years after the World War II ended – there were not many amusements available back then and the ice rinks in Umeda and Namba were extremely popular, so popular that one had to wait 2 hours just for their turn for boots hire. Nobuo’s mother, who was a skater before the war, was asked to teach skating and Nobuo, then 10 years old, went along with her.
‘I loved playing when I was a young boy’, he says, ‘and skating was just like playing.’ In 1953, when he was in the 6th grade at primary school, he started training seriously. In those days, both casual skaters and competitive skaters changed to special wooden slippers from ordinary shoes when getting close to the ice rink, as they were afraid of bringing dirt onto ice.
In 1957, he won his first National Championship at the age of 15. He landed a double Lutz in his free programme, the first skater to do so in Japan. It was common to spend 6 hours a day in practice then; 4 to 5 hours of which was spent doing compulsory figures, which was the largest component of the final score. That meant major part of the day’s practice took place in the early morning, before leisure skaters arrived at the rink.
In those days, ice resurfacing meant spraying water on the ice. To avoid the thickening of the ice, they sprayed water only a few times a day. There was always a large amount of ice shaving on the ice, as if it had just snowed. ‘The outermost part of the ice, where a large number of leisure skaters had concentrated, was the smoothest as friction melts and smoothes the ice surface. So all competitive skaters raced to take their positions there’, Nobuo recalls.
When he participated in his first international competition at 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics, he did the same in the official practice session and started drawing a figure of 8 in the outermost part of the rink; someone shouted at him and told him to move along. He then learnt that there was such a thing called ice-resurfacing machine in the US and the ice was smooth anywhere in the rink.
Everything he saw, he heard was new to him when abroad. Overwhelmed by the wide gap existing between Japan and the West, he did not believe he ‘could ever beat the foreign skaters - no way!’ He fell in his Olympic debut, and the photo capturing his chin about to hit the ice was published in the newspaper. ‘It was embarrassing!’
However, after graduating Kansai University, he learnt how to condition the body for the first time and his skating started to improve. He was the 4th in the 1965 World Championships and the 5th in the following year. He then retired. Many told him to stay in competition, but he was determined; ‘figure skating is a physically demanding sport, contrary to how it appears on surface, and it is also demanding financially and emotionally to the family. I think the peak year for single skaters comes when they are 23 or 24 years old.’
He became a coach soon afterwards, and started to look after top elite skaters. But he was still young, more physical than theoretical, and preferred ‘showing how to do things and was proud of it.’ Looking back now, he could not call it ‘coaching’ at all. A Swiss coach, whom the JSF invited to train Japan’s home-grown coaches for 1972 Sapporo Olympics, told him that if he had been asked, he would have put Nobuo to teach skating to children in the countryside. Nobuo was made to realise how inferior he was as a figure skating coach.
European coaches focused on the accuracy in basic technique; how to do a particular turn, how to position the free leg when landing jumps, and so on. Up until then, his coaching style was based on American one, emphasising on smoothness and beauty of the glide. He got confused between the two different approaches. It took him several years before he could digest all and established his own methodology.
‘I have never thought skating was fun. It was all about endurance and perseverance for me. Do young people nowadays call it “enjoying oneself”?’*
After many struggles and successes, he is now the most established coach in Japan. In Kansai University Ice Arena, there hung gigantic images of Nobuo and Kumiko, who are alumni, as well as Daisuke Takahashi and Nobunari Oda, both of who currently belong to Kansai University Skating Club.
*Translator’s note; I believe here he refers to the phrase commonly used by current crop of Japanese top skaters – ‘I’d like to enjoy skating / performing’ when asked what they want to achieve at big competitions.
(BTW, I used to go to the ice rink in Umeda when younger, and, though it was closed down a while ago, I wonder if it was the same one as Nobuo Sato used to go to. If so, I would be somehow ‘whelmed. )
Last edited by mot; 04-06-2011 at 03:24 PM.
Part 3; The greatest emphasis on the basic skating skills
Nobuo’s famous for teaching good skating skills. Why do blades glide on ice?
‘It all starts from there. If there isn’t a single line connecting from that starting point to an execution of a particular element, there must be an error in technique somewhere along it.’
He has taught his own daughter Yuka, who is now coaching US skaters representing their own country on the international stage, and Takahiko Kozuka, whom he started teaching when he was too young to skate on his own. Their basic skating skills are highly acclaimed and described exemplary at ISU judges training seminars.
He would never allow his students, even if they came to him after being trained by another coach, to neglect the basics. That is the same with Mao Asada. ‘Of course’, he admits, ‘I think carefully before I say anything to the two-time World Champion, in case what I say casually messes up her skating. I spend time considering and evaluating how to approach the problems first.’
It takes time for improvement to come about, and sometimes it fails to show. But he is patient, which his wife Kumiko and daughter Yuka list as his major strength.
He continuously observes (his skaters and their skating). Kumiko says, ‘even when I get wound up, he remains cool. I admire him for that. Of course, time to time, I wonder why he needs so much time getting what is so obvious.’
Some skaters show massive improvement after a very short time spent with their coach. Some criticises Nobuo’s coaching style as too slow, saying that not everyone can wait that long, even knowing the outcome will definitely be there one day.
‘I am not really flexible and easy to adapt. I believe it would be eventually quicker to go step by step. It would take much longer to undo what has been done to get things right.’
It’s been 6 month since he became Mao’s coach, and she said there have been so many new discoveries for her and now she understands why things have to be done in a certain way. ‘While everything seems to be new to her, still her skating has improved a lot. She’s a talent indeed’, Nobuo praises her.
Yuka is relatively new to coaching and often asks Nobuo for his opinions, and Nobuo in return asks Yuka for help to choose choreographers, costume makers, and dance classes for his students. They are now known as ‘Sato Family’ in the world of figure skating.
He finds it hard to relax now that two of his students are top skaters of the world. Kumiko, however, admits how lucky they are as a coach. Some already look forward to the double gold medals in Sochi in 2014. Nobuo says he would not be able to face going to the rink to coach them, once he started thinking about such a huge responsibility.
Funnily enough, he’s never placed too much importance on the final placement, as a coach or even as a competitive skater. ‘It may be something to do with my lack of confidence, but in baseball, you are great if you’re a .300 hitter – so I think it is good if I can smile from the heart three times in every ten competitions.’
So we asked him to hit a home run in the most important competition of all. He gave a wry smile. It is not his way. His way is not to be over ambitious, but just to do what one has to do at a time.
Nobuo in his competitive days;
(from 0.44min onwards)
While his spin rotation was anti-clockwise, his jump rotation was clockwise!!
He said that in the interview in the above clip, for him the podium finish at international competitions was impossible, because of the huge technical gulf between Japanese and foreign skaters. So it became his chief mission as a coach to fill in that gap.
Last edited by mot; 04-06-2011 at 03:25 PM.
What a wonderful interview! Thanks so much for giving us the chance to read it. I often think how delighted Mr. and Mrs. Sato must be to see their daughter carrying on their coaching tradition. I love that Nobuo Sato says that he actually consults Yuka from time to time.
One thing that I found fascinating (among many other interesting details) is what Mr. Sato said about the way posture changed after the 1970s, and that Toller Cranston was one of the main reasons for that. I'd love to hear more about that.
I remember once in the 1980s or maybe even the 1990s, Donald Jackson briefly returned to skating and competed in some pro competitions. It was fascinating to see how different his style was from the then-current movement style. Whereas the difference between the 1980s and today isn't that pronounced, in singles at least. Of course there are more triple jumps, but the overall way of skating, the flow from movement to movement, is roughly the same, I think. (There's been more drastic change in pairs and ice dancing, I think, due to the increasing complexity of lifts in both those disciplines.)
Skeptic Satirist Critic Muppet Fan
Thank you for this translation MOT. What an valuable insight from this illustrious man, not only in his career but his personal philosophy and approach, placing importance on the basics and the fundamentals, also his humility and lack of ambition on final placements. He appear to take everything as a learning process, unafraid to negate things that doesn't work (some people can be too proud to acknowledge mistakes or stubborn), even as a coach, even till now, which is humbling .
By the look of it, the Sato family is practically a personal dynasty in this sports. Has there been other family enterprises in figure skating world that lasted as long or has as much impact as the Sato?
Last edited by OS; 04-06-2011 at 06:42 PM.
Trixie Schuba's biggest fan!
I think Nobuo Sato IS my idol.
Mot, thank you for translating! This is definitely a must-read!!
Utako Nagamitsu - Part 1: It is men who should be expressive
I am glad you guys enjoyed the article!
Here is another three-part article; story of Utako Nagamitsu, Daisuke Takahashi's coach. It was published in Nihon Keizan Shinbun Newspaper too in May 2010.
‘I’d rather you would keep this off the record, but…’, Utako Nagamitsu (aged 59) started to talk. It was August 2009, and her Kansai dialect was soft and soothing. ‘If things fall into places, I believe my boy will win the gold at the Olympics. I cannot say why, but I believe he’ll be standing on the podium.’
‘My boy’ – she was referring to Daisuke Takahashi, who won the bronze medal at Vancouver Olympics in February 2010. When she made her prediction, it was only one month since he had skated in the ice show for the first time in a year, after coming back from the injury, but Utako seemed utterly convinced.
‘She is always convinced. She’s in a way more “manly” than me, and she does not easily doubt herself’, Daisuke describes his coach. Conviction gives you extra power to achieve things. Even when some suggested Daisuke avoid going for the quad to avoid the risk and to increase his chance for the gold, she remained convinced; ‘I had never thought about him omitting the quad from his programme. He tends to fail badly when he plays safe anyway, and above all, that is Daisuke Takahashi, who’s to jump!’ Utako continues, ‘I’d been always so optimistic and kept saying that he’d do it one day. Now he’s done it.’
Utako met Daisuke for the first time 11 years ago. She was in Sendai for her team’s training camp, and a boy walked into the ice rink. Someone asked if he was one of her students. ‘No’, she said. The boy was Daisuke. He came to Sendai from Okayama for choreography, and the music chosen for him was Warsaw Concerto. Utako wondered if it was too difficult a music choice for a 13-year-old junior high school boy. Then she learnt his choreographer had to leave for another job commitment.
So she stepped in as a substitute, and she was terribly impressed by him; ‘he had softness in his movement. It was as if the music was coming out of his body.’ Daisuke could land only two kinds of triple jumps then, but he had a unique talent Utako had never seen in any other skaters before. She enjoyed working with him so much that the finished programme was a very complicated one, but Daisuke mastered it in just a week. Utako was then convinced that, one day, he would be on the international stage. That was how it all started for them.
Utako believes that it is men who should dance. ‘It’s the same for ballet; men are physically stronger and more powerful, and that gives them room to express.’ There is not much difference in jumping abilities amongst the top male skaters, so it is their ability to express the music that decides the final placement. She has believed that for a long time. Others laughed at her belief and asked, ‘what’s the point in men dancing like girls?’ Even then, she never doubted herself. It was actually his ability to dance and express the music, and his high PCS as a result, that helped Daisuke, who could not rely on TES due to the effects of the injury, at Vancouver.
Utako always imagined there would be a foreign coach, whom she believed had a power to appeal to the judges, sitting at Kiss and Cry, next to Daisuke waiting for the score. But he refused point blank. After splitting with Nikolai Morozov, she suggested he go to Brian Orser, Yu-Na Kim’s coach, but Daisuke said no. At least, she thought his choreographer Pasquale Camerlengo could be with him at Kiss and Cry in Vancouver, but the idea was also turned down by Daisuke.
‘It was my gut feeling that I needed nobody but Utako with me’, Daisuke says. ‘I renewed my admiration for her in Vancouver.’ ‘I always thought he was still a kid, but nowadays he surprises me by how grown-up he has become.’ It was this chemistry and trusting relationship between them that brought Japan its first Men’s Olympic medal in figure skating.
Last edited by mot; 04-07-2011 at 03:23 PM.
Utako Nagamitsu - Part 2; It all started at Sapporo Olympics
The father thought that engaging in winter sports should do his asthmatic daughter good. He was a fan of Junko Hiramatsu (née Ueno), the top female skater in Japan then, and suggested young Utako take up figure skating. Hiramatsu’s home rink was on the upper floor of the film theatre named Shuraku-kan in Kobe, and Utako’s father took her there during the spring school break when she was 9.
City of Nagoya is now considered to be a Mecca of figure skating in Japan, but it was Kansai region in the 50s and the 60s. There were all-year-round rinks in Namba and Umeda in Osaka, and also in Kobe and Kyoto. There were many illustrious skaters based in Kansai too; including Nobuo Sato, who was introduced to the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame, his wife-to-be Kumiko Sato (née Okawa), Junko Hiramatsu, Kazumi Onishi (née Yamashita), and Haruko Okamoto (née Ishida), who is also known as a sister of a famous actress Ayumi Ishida – all of them represented Japan in the Olympics.
‘Nobuo Sato’s double axel was parabolic and beautiful, even to a child eyes’, Utako recalls, ‘ I once shared a room with Kumiko during a competition we both participated and I was so star-struck and nervous.’ She was mesmerised by the sight of the first ISU judge from Japan, Kikuko Minami walking round in her fur coat. Travelling abroad was nothing but a dream for most Japanese population back then. Utako dreamt of going to a competition held on a foreign soil, watching a Super-8 film made by Junko Hiramatsu, showing the lives abroad.
‘Having to get up early was hard, and the practice session was long.’ The final score was made up of 60% compulsory figure and 40% free skate; it was hard to catch up if you messed up in the compulsory.
She took the 5am train to the rink to practice compulsory figure, and went back once the school finished and stayed there until 9pm. She went to Tetsuro Tanaka, also a coach to Haruko Okamoto, when she was 12. Figure skating took over her life. She then took the National Junior title, and then came in the 6th at the National.
At the height of her success as a competitive skater, she felt the tide was changing. It was a time when ladies started landing triple jumps and that was making international news. Slowly, more and more good jumpers were appearing in Japan. Utako was known for her great skating skills, but jumps were not her strength. Moreover, the short programme was introduced in 1972/73 season, and jumps became more significant component of figure skating. So she decided to retire without much hesitation.
At the end of her last season as a competitive skater, Sapporo Olympics were held. ‘My grandmother was going to buy me a special kimono for my coming of age ceremony*, but I nagged her to send me to Sapporo instead, using the money she had set aside for the kimono.’ She watched every single figure skating event, and official practices too. It was her first time to watch an international competition. She thought Janet Lynn, who won the bronze, was great, but who impressed and intrigued her the most was Toller Cranston from Canada, who was the 9th in the Men’s event.
‘He danced, even though he was a man!’ While other men were simply moving their arms up and down, Cranston danced. He was unique. This shocking discovery was the starting point for Utako Nagamitsu, a figure skating coach. She had a foresight; Cranston took the bronze at 1976 Innsbruck Olympics, and many men, who were described as ‘artist’, followed.
*translator’s note; it is a widely held custom in Japan to celebrate young people’s coming of age when they turn 20. The communal celebration takes place around January 15 across the nation, and both boys and girls dress up for the occasion, especially girls, in elaborate, beautiful kimono specially purchased for it.
Last edited by mot; 04-07-2011 at 03:29 PM.
Utako Nagamitsu - Part 3; Lasting relationship with Takahashi
Utako Nagamitsu have a cracking sense of humour; listening to her and Daisuke Takahashi, a bronze medallist at Vancouver Olympics, talk is sometimes just like listening to two comedians talk.
However, her former students could not believe that she can be so chilled nowadays. ‘I was reckless back then. My young students used to get frightened just by hearing rustling sound my coat made’, Utako recalls. She was a young and passionate coach; she punished them physically and sent them home if they behaved disrespectfully. ‘I had been told “cry when practice and smile at a competition”, and I was simply repeating what I had been instigated. I got angry so easily’, she admits, full of shame now.
Her turning point, however, came in the 80s. She took on Mari Asamuma, who represented Japan in 1991 World Championships. She was very talented and Utako realised she could not possibly make her regret being a skater. Utako tried to be patient and understand what caused Mari to kick the ice with the blade; ‘perhaps she was angry with herself.’ Normally, Utako would have blown a fuse, but she bit her tongue instead. ‘It was difficult, but it taught me how to be patient’, Utako says. It also taught her to be more observant and to understand what goes through her students’ minds.
She found a foreign choreographer for Mari so that her jumping ability would stand out. In those days, it was common for the coach to do everything - choosing music, choreographing and teaching techniques. Utako was, however, looking after 10 students, and it was impossible to do all and ensure their physical conditions were right.
So she knew what to do from her experience when she took on Daisuke. After him winning the World Junior Championships in 2002, for the first time for Japanese men, she took him abroad to be trained by foreign coaches. She thought he was too great a talent to stay with her full time. Rather than restricting his opportunities, she wanted to extend his potential by training with the established coaches in the world. ‘Once decided to leave things to someone, she stands by her decision and would not interfere. That’s something amazing about her’, Daisuke says.
Utako explains, ‘it’s not that I leave things to just anyone, but if someone is better than me, then I am happy to ask for their contribution.’ When she thought Daisuke’s lack of flexibility might lead to an injury, she hired a personal trainer. ‘I have never landed a quad myself’, she explains why she invited Takeshi Honda to join her team in Kansai University as a coach. When she realised she was not familiar enough with the details of new rules and regulations, she contacted Makoto Okazaki, international technical judge, to come and check levels. ‘It is better for Daisuke to be surrounded by men a little older than him. I am sure he finds it easier to turn to them for advice.’ She does not let her personal pride get in a way, and is flexible in her approach. As a result, she has now obtained a position, which is distant enough to evaluate Daisuke’s performance from a spectator’s perspective.
She never visited Daisuke at hospital, doing rehabilitation after the surgery. When he told her that he found it very tough and he was not sure whether he could go though it, all she said was ‘oh, I see.’ She was of course very worried when he actually fled and disappeared for a while, but she believed that he’d return. Daisuke knows how much Utako trusts him without being told so. It’s better for her not to interfere too much. ‘She has never criticised me for not getting results. She’s never tried to restrain me and always let me do what I wanted to do. For me, she is irreplaceable’, Daisuke says.
Daisuke won his first World Championship in March 2010. It was the best ending to the glorious season. Just before they left Turin, Utako fell in the hotel bathroom and broke her right arm. ‘I used up all my bad luck then.’ Inscrutable are the ways of Heaven – she believes that her injury was God’s gift for another glorious season for Daisuke.
Last edited by mot; 04-07-2011 at 07:02 PM.
I thought what was interesting was that Nobuo Sato and Utako Nagamitsu represent almost the both end of coaching spectrum according to these articles. Nobuo is more of a teacher, while Utako a supporter. Of course too much generalisation is involved here and I bet Nobuo supports and Utako teaches too, to a varying degree.
Skaters personalities and resulting needs vary, and it is very important for them to find the right coach who can provide what they need throughout their competitive career.
There is nothing for me to translate especially, but the relationship between Akiko Suzuki and her coach Hiroshi Nagakubo is another intriguing one. Nagakubo is known as one of the best technical coach in Japan, especially when it comes to jumps; he is the one who trained young Takeshi Honda and Shizuka Arakawa after all. At the same time, he provided tremendous support during Akiko's dark days of anorexia. At one point, Akiko was too ill and weak to skate, but he stood by her. Akiko said she did not give up skating because Nagakubo never gave up on her. In Vancouver, when asked what motivated her, she told the press 'I wanted to take my coach to the Olympics.'
I am also interested in how countries, which are relative new-comers to the sport, start building it up from the scratch. I would like to know more, if possible, how Bin Yao went about making China a power house of pairs skating now. I read an interview of a Japanese official describing his first visit to China 30 years ago, invited by Chinese federation to help them catch up with the rest of the world; he said he met Bin Yao for the first time, coaching in an outside rink in Harbin. It was very cold and the ice was rock solid, covered by oily substance fell from the industrial smoke. China has come a long way.
Mot, thank you again for all your translations! This was another interesting article...totally different coaching style from Mr. Sato, but it certainly works for all their students!
Wicked Yankee Girl
Thank you so much, mot, for these translations!
Thanks so much, Mot, for your translations and your commentary as well. I imagine that Nagakubo must be an astonishing technical coach if Arakawa is anything to go by. We've often pointed out on this forum that Shizuka is rather tall for a skater, and she was in her twenties when she won the Olympics and still had wonderful triple-triples. (She didn't use them in the competition but apparently skated them splendidly in practice all week.) Anyone whose technique gets her past her growth spurt and past her twenty-fourth birthday--and even to almost thirty nowadays!--must have been beautifully trained. Isn't there a series of videos up on YouTube showing the huge variety of triple jumps and triple-triple combinations Shizuka has? When I see a mastery of technique like that, I think it speaks exceedingly well of the coach as well as of the skater.
Last edited by Olympia; 04-07-2011 at 09:06 PM.