Another links from AOI in Shanghai.
Another links from AOI in Shanghai.
Takahashi interview Numero Tokyo, July/August issue, translated in 6 parts. Deedee can take a rest.
It’s a long interview with some candid stories on why he declared he’d continue until Sochi without much deliberation, what drives him as a performer, and his (current lack of) love life.
As a little girl Nagamitsu suffered from asthma and often had spasms of coughing. "Doing a winter sport will do good for her health.", her father thought. She started figure skating on her father's advice, because he was a fan of Junko Ueno (maiden name, now Mrs. Junko Hiramatsu) who was the top Ladies single skater of Japan at that time. There was a building full of movie theatres named 'Juraku-kan' which flourished pre- and post-World War II in Kobe, and its top floor had an ice rink. It was Spring in 1960 when her father took his little 9 y.o girl to that rink for the first time.
Nowadays Nagoya probably is the biggest foothold of figure skating in Japan. It was, however, Kansai area during 1950's and 1960's: Osaka had rinks in Umeda and Namba, there were other ice rinks available all the year round in Kobe and Kyoto, too. You could see a profusion of top Japanese skaters there. To name a few, Nobuo Sato on his top form as a competitive skater who recently inducted into Figure Skating Hall of Fame, Kumiko Ohkawa (now Mrs. Kumiko Sato, Nobuo's wife), Junko Ueno, Kazumi Yamashita (now Mrs. Ohnishi), Haruko Ishida (a sister of famous movie actress Ayumi Ishida, now Mrs. Okamoto)...all of whom competed at several Winter Olympic Games.
"Mr. Sato's double Axel had such a beautiful parabolic orbit! A thing of beauty even to the eyes of untrained child like myself. When I attended a competition one day, I remember I got so so nervous because I had to share a hotel room with Kumiko sensei!"
Hisako Nanki was the very first ISU judge from the Japan Skating Federation. Utako was fascinated to get to see Mrs. Nanki wearing a fur and fluttering it as she elegantly walked around the rink. Traveling abroad was simply a dream for ordinary Japanese people back then. Upon her overseas competitions, Kimiko Ueno used to record them in 8mm films, then showed them for other skaters in her home rink. Watching them and listening to lots of interesting episodes from Kumiko, young Utako dreamed of her own overseas competitions some day...
Deedee1, thanks for your translations! I would know none of this without you translating.
He says when he's skating, he wants everyone to watch him, and you can totally tell. Off ice, he seems like a cool, normal guy, but when he skates he transforms. You can tell that he wants people to watch him, he has that presence on the ice that commands people's attention.
Also I found it interesting that at one point his love life was more important to him than skating. I wonder who the girl was?
How did you know it was about lunch time for me?
I will enjoy every bite of my sandwich and Daisuke~~~
P.S. That magazine was published only yesterday. Real works by professional dudes.
I can probably learn millions of things thru this series of translation!
Thanks, SF, for the article! Back to the office today, but I'll look forward to reading it later.
In his Chinese interview, Takahashi said he has contacted Lori Nichol and is looking forward to try something new with this rare opportunity. However, nothing is finalized and the music has not been selected yet.
Given his past success with Pasquale, I would imagine Dai will keep working with him for his fs, Kenji for the ex, and possibly Nichol for the sp.
Thanks SF for linking the article. Great interview!
Well at least we know for sure that he will be using Lori since he mentioned her in the Chinese interview.
"I hated waking up very early in the morning! We had to spend so much time to practice Compulsory, back then..." A competiton back then was formed with Compulsory which required to draw figures on the ice (60%) and with Free skate (40%). If you were to be far behind with Compulsory, you would never end up winning overall, regardless how strong you could come back in the Free.
Waking up early she got on a train around 5am and practiced Compulsory in the morning. After school each day, she went back to her rink and resumed evening trainings until 9pm. At age 12, she switched to Tetsutaro Tanaka, one of the top coaches. Her life was eventually filled with nothing but skating. She won the ladies title of National Junior Championship. Her best record at the Senior Nats was 6th place.
She also felt the trend in figure skating was changing. It became the talk of the whole world if a a female skater landed a triple jump. Same in Japan; skaters with harder jumps started winning competitions. Nagamitsu as a competitive skater was well known for her superior skating skills but weaker in jumps. Then there came a big change in rules: the introduction of Short program from 1972-73 season. They started marking placements for singles through Compulsory, Short program and Free skate, so that skaters were required to put more weights on jumps. At that point Nagamitsu became the least hesitant to retire from competitive skating.
On her last season as an eligible skater, Japan hosted the Winter Olympic Games in Sapporo in February 1972. "My grandmother had planned and saved some money to buy me a beautiful Kimono to celebrate my becoming 20 years old, but I somehow wheedled her to give me that money in cash."
She traveled to Sapporo and attended every sessions of practice and competitions of figure skating from the Day 1. That was her very first encounter with any sort of international competitions live in her whole life. She was delighted and excited to see the world's top skaters, including Janet Lynn, of course, who became the focus of public attention, and so to speak the biggest idol of the event throughout Japan. However, the skater who caught her notice and attracted the most was Toller Cranston of Canada who only placed 9th at the Mens discipline. Why?
"He danced!, in spite of being a male single skater..." she simply answered. The average male skaters back then were doing less choreo by occasionally lifting up and down their arms, only. Among them Cranston did dance and stood out to her. That encounter was the origin of Nagamitsu as a professional coach. Four years later (1976) Cranston won the Olympic Bronze Medal in Innsbruck, Austria. The trend of Mens figure skating proves she was right. A lot of male figure skaters, who were regarded as 'artists on ice', burst onto the scene after Cranston. Nagamitsu got foresight in every ways.
That's how I felt when I saw Toller. I remember Dick Button saying in 1980 (comparing the elegant Robin Cousins to his rivals, principally Jan Hoffman of East Germany) that so many other men's arms moved "like windmills." Toller and John Curry changed what people thought that men's skating could achieve. It was as simple as that.
There is always some humorous tone when she talks. The way Nagamitsu and Takahashi speak to each other often reminds me that of comedians.
But she admits that those who once were coached by her in the past probably could not believe that.
"I was such a messy, unreasonable coach when I was younger. My skaters used to be frozen up if they heard, say, the rustling sound of my coat..." Nagamitsu was such a young, determined coach full of passion, maybe too much passion and responsibility. If she did not like her skaters' behavior, she snapped and let them leave the ice and go home. "When I grew up as a skater, I was often told by my coach, 'cry while traning, and smile at competitions.' I simply followed that principle...but literally it was meant to be that if you train hard enough until you almost cry, it will make you smile at competitions, right? I tended to lose my temper with my skaters..." Nagamitsu recalls these days with embarrassment.
Nagamitsu faced one big turning point in her career as a coach in the 80's: an encounter with Mari Asanuma, a female single skater who later got to compete at the Worlds in 1991. 'Mari is the girl with enormous talents. Just obvious to everyone's eye. I can't destroy her talents.' she told herself. When Mari was in a bad mood and hit the ice, Nagamitsu tried hard to tolerate Asanuma, thinking 'she must be frustrated with herslf because of mistakes...' The former self of her would have probably lost her temper with her skater's bad attitude, but she somehow swallowed her words. "It was so hard for me to controll my anger of course, but I eventually learned how to be patient." That also helped Nagamitsu to be a keen observer to her skaters, their movements and their thoughts.
Mari was a great jumper. In order to highlight her ability and talent, Nagamitsu decided to outsource programs to a foreign choreographer, though it was unusual back then. To choose a music piece for a skater, to do its choreo, to teach every aspects of techniques in skating as needed, to take care of skater's physical and mental condition and such; these were part of the coach's job back then. But Nagamitsu had over 10 skaters, and realized she did not have enough time or eye to supervise all of them.
Years later when Nagamitsu started to train Takahashi, she put all these experiences, her heart and soul into him.
There's an old saying that when the student is ready, the teacher comes along. Maybe in this case, it goes both ways. When the teacher was ready, the student came along. Daisuke is obviously the ideal student for Nagamitsu's aspirations and particular talents. Nice the way that worked out!
And to the contrary, I have a mixed feeling concerning Mao.
Mao at age 15, she was a made-in-heaven like skater; floating on the ice effortlessly, airy jumps, popping energy which is typical of the youth and that angelic smile!...she was like a cotton candy on the blades, and her love and joy for skating clearly showed in her skating and on her face.
But once she was old enough to officially compete on the senior level, she appreared less enjoying of her skating, more tense, afraid of making any mistakes even before the actual competitions got started... It seemed to me that figure skating became more of the profession, the obligation, the burden sort of thing to Mao. (I feel the same way concerning YuNa. They were too young to shoulder these responsibilities, weren't they?) We got to see her smiles less and less.
It's been 6 seasons since then. While I appreciate Artunian and Tarasova for helping Mao technically, mentally and artistically to go up to the top, (the fact that she is already a 2-time world champion proves so ), I am not sure if they were the ideal or adequate coaches. Mao has been always ready to meet ideal coaches since then, she hasn't met her any yet.
Mao has been adored so much by everyone around her since she was a small kid. But she was, and still is very shy in front of strangers, tending to shelter herself from th outside world. It takes time for her to understand people who were unknown to her before, get along well with them, and start trusting them. Mao resembles Daisuke for that matter.
It was good for Dai he met Mrs. Nagamitsu when he was very young, though. To the eye of Mrs. Nagamitsu, Dai was a nice kid from the beginning to behave well, respect elder people, and do whatever was told to do. But he sheltered himself in his own world and never revealed her his true feelings for a long time, Nagamitsu once said. They had no fights in those days, because they were still reserved with each other, you know. It took 3-4 years for him to start fully trusting his coach (and start fighting! ).
I sincerely hope The Satos are finally her ideal coaches whom Mao can trust, rely upon, and open her heart to, no matter what.
Last edited by deedee1; 05-31-2012 at 03:02 AM.
In February 2002, Takahashi at age 15 won the very first Mens world junior title by a Japanese male single skater. Nagamitsu decided to take him abroad and journeyed around the world together to learn from the great mastery coaches. Because she knew he was so talented, probably too talented that she could not handle it by her own. She believed that, in order to fullfil his potential, it would be much better to leave him with the hands of world's top coaches who are experienced with deeper knowledge and more appropriate skills for training than herself.
"What is the most remarkable with Utako sensei is once she decides to leave something to someone, she leaves it to that person till the end. She never have a say, never interrupt and never take it back!", Takahashi agrees.
"Well, I won't leave anything to anybody just rondumly or blinldy, of course! But my policy is 'better leave it to its specialist.', you know." If she saw her boy was the least flexible so that he might risk getting injured himself, she instructed his conditioning trainer to do something to prevent that. As for harder jumps such as quads, which is the unknown area to her as she never tried those jumps herself, she contacted Takeshi Honda, who placed 4th at the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002, and invietd him to join her team in Kansai University to help Takahashi. If she doubts whether she herslef fully understands all changes on rules, she right away calls Makoto Okazaki, who is one of the licensed ISU's technical specialists, and entrusts him to check levels for spins and steps.
"I thought it would be beneficial for Dai, too, if there are a couple of older guys (than him) around him, he can talk to one of them and get some advice, on and off ice, as needed." She is such kind of person who is the least conceited, knowing her own limitations as a coach, and who can properly deal with things depending on the circumstances.
As a result, she got to spend more time to observe her skater objectively; out of the rink and from the viewpoints of audience.
Another remarkable episode about her is she never visited Takahashi in the hospital who had surgery in his injured knee and was undergoing its rehab trainings for months. Takahashi once called her from the hospital, telling in a pessimistic tone of voice thru his cell phone, "I am not sure how much longer I can hold out with this...". She ignored his sentiment and replied with a small laugh, "Hum? you are not sure??" At the point when Takahashi actually did run away from the hospital and disappeared for days, she of course panicked. But she was so convinced that he would come back. 'Dai is such a boy with great sensitiveness. He senses it. He already knows what we want to tell him, without hearing any words from us...' She decided to wait for him, instead of searching for him everywhere.
"Utako sensei never scolded me, not once, even at times I did not get good results all these years. She always stayed by my side and encouraged me to do my best. My coach is the absolute being for me; I trust her more than I trust myself."
Takahashi also won the gold medal at the Worlds the next month (March 2010). The season has turned out to be the most successful for both of them.
The night before when they were ready to go back home finally, Nagamitsu slipped and fell in the bathroom at a hotel in Torino and broke her right arm. "I met with my misfortune here. Should be a sign of good fortunes in the future!", says with a laugh. Nagamitsu rather regards her injury as blessings from the God on the new chapter of her and her boy's long journey.
Last edited by deedee1; 05-31-2012 at 10:28 PM.