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Thread: Takahashi and Tran Split

  1. #91
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    It's interesting to note that two of Japan's four ice dance teams have a non-Japanese partner.

    Bryna OI of OI / MIZUTANI is American. She was 5th at 2009 New England Novice Regionals as a single. She switched to dance and was 6th at 2011 US Novice Nationals with partner Mark Jahnke. In the fall of 2011 she teamed with Taiyo Mizutani; they competed at 2012 Japanese Nationals and won in the absence of Reed/Reed, who were out with injury.

    Marien De La Asuncion of HIRAI / DE LA ASUNCION previously competed for France with 3 different partners. He teamed up with Emi Hirai in 2011 after Emi's partnership with Taiyo Mizutani broke up (he teamed with Bryna Oi); they competed at 2012 Japanese Nationals and were second behind Oi / Mizutani.

    You have to wonder why Japanese skaters pursue partnerships with non-Japanese partners (both male and female) knowing there is no hope of competing with those partners at the Olympics.

  2. #92
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    The two splits I can remember that worked out best were in pairs, Rodnina/Zaitsev and Kazakova/Dmitriev. When Rodnina's former partner Alexei Ulanov split with her under emotional and romantic circumstances, Rodnina was considered the treasure of the pair, and the Soviet federation hunted through the best they had for a partner. Rodnina/Zaitsev immediately took the top spot in the world and went on to win not one but two OGMs. (Rodnina already had a gold with Ulanov.) There are people who believe that Irina could have won a pairs gold medal skating alone; she was that good. But Zaitsev was clearly a wonderful partner for her, technically sound and emotionally cool under pressure.

    In a later skating generation, after winning an OGM and then a silver with Natalia Mishkutenok, Artur Dmitriev split up with that partner, and he was paired with Oksana Kazakova. I'd say she wasn't quite up to his level, but she was good enough for him to win a second gold.

    The only other really successful rearranged partnerships I can think of, meaning people who broke up and re-formed after winning some senior championships with the first partner, are Jenni Meno/Todd Sand (Sand broke up with the much younger Kuchiki after falling in love with Jenni) and Kyoko Ina/John Zimmerman after Ina broke up with Jason Dunjen. I'm sure there are others, though.

    Today with the complexity of CoP rules, maybe it's not possible to do that sort of remixing anymore?

    Edit: I made a correction to Dmitriev's medal history thanks to Victura's helpful troubleshooting.
    Last edited by Olympia; 12-21-2012 at 10:21 PM.

  3. #93
    Custom Title Victura's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Olympia View Post
    In a later skating generation, after winning an OGM with Natalia Mishkutenok, Artur Dmitriev split up with that partner, and he was paired with Oksana Kazakova. I'd say she wasn't quite up to his level, but she was good enough for him to win an Olympic silver and then a second gold.
    Just to clarify, Dmitriev won the gold in 1992 and silver in 1994 with Mishkutenok and only the second gold with Kazakova after Mishkutenok decided to retire. It's actually quite amazing what Kazakova did though, considering her only previous trip to senior Worlds before pairing up with Dmitriev was in 1994 where she and her previous partner placed 15th. Two seasons later, 5th, and another two seasons later, the Olympic gold.

    Back on topic -- I too was very saddened to see this split and hope that Mervin and Narumi are both able to find partners that would take them back to the podium again. If even one of them is successful with a new partner, I'd be very pleased.

  4. #94
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    Oh, dear; thanks for the correction. I remembered the sequence of Dmitriev's medals wrongly. I'll go back and correct. Let's both hope that each of these good skaters finds another good partner.

  5. #95
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    Jamie Sale & David Pelletier from Canada also skated with other partners until their pairing and they had close to immediate success on the GP circuit. Dont remember exact details.

  6. #96
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    Olympia mentioned the two highest-profile partner "remixings", but there are certainly other cases. The best current example is Volosozhar/Trankov. These two have had the most success together. However, both placed 4th at Worlds with their previous partners, so they were quite successful beforehand, just not quite reaching the medal positions.

    Another example would be Anjelika Krylova in ice dance. Krylova won world bronze with Alexander Fedorov, then teamed with Oleg Ovsiannakov for world silver medals and the OSM. So, two very successful partnerships for her at the World level.

    Then there's Jamie Sale. She made it to the 1994 Olympics with a previous partner, Jason Turner, before winning the OGM with Pelletier in 2002. She & Turner were pretty far back in the standings in 1994, but just being there represented a level of success.

    Also we have the Denney/Coughlin team in the U.S. These are two skaters who placed 6th and 7th at Worlds with previous partners, now skating together as a remixed team and placing 8th last year.

    So I think there is certainly hope that Takahashi and Tran can have equivalent or greater success with other partners, the key of course is finding those partners.

  7. #97
    EZETTIE LATUASV IVAKMHA CaroLiza_fan's Avatar
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    [I started writing this on Tuesday night, when I first heard about the split, and have been fine-tuning it ever since. So, sorry if it overlaps with what other people have said, and also sorry if the conversation has moved on from what I am discussing in the mean time. I'm just slow at typing... which doesn't help when you write as much as I do!!! ]


    I’m gutted. It’s a real shame they are splitting, because I really liked the partnership between Narumi and Mervin.

    Red tape and bureaucracy have brought to an end Japan’s best hope of success in pairs skating.

    You know, I can understand the economic and social reasons why Japan doesn’t allow dual nationality. Like, let’s face it, Japan had a tradition of isolation for centuries, and was suspicious of foreigners for centuries. But, in this day and age, I feel that the rules are too strict, and need a bit of flexibility.

    In particular, I don’t think it is fair that people who have Japanese ancestry but were born overseas are not allowed dual nationality. Take Mirai Nagasu. She is the first generation of her family to be born in America. Yet, despite her parents both being Japanese born and bred, the government back in Japan will force Mirai to choose between the country she was born in, or the country of her heritage. Talk about a difficult decision.

    But, it must be worse for those who have one Japanese parent and one foreign parent. Take the Reeds, whose Mum is Japanese, and Dad is American. What the Japanese government is saying to them is “Right. Choose between your parents.” Like, how are you supposed to do that?! You don’t want to risk offending either side of the family. And, you don’t want either parent to think you love them less than the other. Making somebody in that situation choose is pure cruelty.

    But the cruellest part of the whole situation is that the child is allowed to have dual-nationality until they are 21, and then it is taken away from them. Why? If you have Japanese ancestry, why can the Japanese government not just let you keep the dual nationality? Why this “Are you with us, or against us” mentality?

    I can understand the Japanese government not giving dual nationality to people without Japanese ancestry. After all, Japan is a small group of islands that are densely populated. There is only a limited amount of space for the people to live, and for crops to be grown to feed these people. So, by all means limit immigration. But, I think the Japanese government should be looking after the descendants of their own people better.

    Of course, Mervin does not fall into either of these categories. His family are from Indo-China, so there is unlikely to be any Japanese blood in him. But, in situations where a successful athlete wants to compete for your country (and in the process helps one of your own citizens to compete successfully on the international stage), surely there should be some lee-way.

    Personally, I don’t think that somebody should be given nationality or citizenship of a country just so that they can compete in a sport in/for a particular country. However, I do think they should at least be given a visa that allows them to compete in a sport in/for a particular country. That would solve Mervin Tran’s problem without him having to renounce his Canadian nationality (or Cambodian or Vietnamese nationality, if he has them).

    As it is, both Narumi and Mervin will have to find new partners.

    It is Narumi I feel sorry for, as there are not many good pairs skaters in Japan, never mind ones that are looking for a partner. And good though she is, no foreigners will want to partner her, as they will end up in the same position as Mervin is now. And I very much doubt if Narumi will switch countries, as it would mean renouncing her Japanese nationality, which would bring up the issues I have raised above.

    There again, Yuko Kavaguchi went ahead and renounced her Japanese nationality so that she could continue skating with Alexander Smirnoff. So, you never know…

    On the other hand, it shouldn’t be too hard for Mervin, as there are a lot of good Canadian skaters who I am sure would jump at the chance to partner somebody as good as him. And, if all else fails, he could try to persuade Amelie to switch from singles to pairs skating! Hey, it’s not as if a good singles skater hasn’t been successful after switching to pairs skating before. Just look at Vanessa James.

    For that matter, maybe the prospect of skating with Mervin could persuade Vanessa to return to representing the country of her birth…

    [Now that I think of it, have we ever had a Black/Asian partnership before in either pairs skating or ice dance? Because I can’t think of any!]

    Overall, I feel the Japanese government really needs to re-think it’s policies on dual nationality. Because of red tape, Japan is losing the only pairs skating partnership they have had in years that has been any good on the international stage.

    I know figure skating is not a major sport over in Japan, but if this policy is having an affect on our sport, it is bound to be happening with lots of other sports as well.

    CaroLiza_fan

    P.S. There is another issue that the Mervin Tran matter raises that I want to discuss, but this message is already very long. So, I will raise it in a different comment in either this thread, or in a different thread.
    Last edited by CaroLiza_fan; 12-22-2012 at 08:51 AM.

  8. #98
    EZETTIE LATUASV IVAKMHA CaroLiza_fan's Avatar
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    [Hang on, I just noticed that the most recent posts in this thread relate to my second message, so I will post it here now. Sorry about the back-to-back posts, but I really should have posted my first comment a few days ago!]


    Why is nationality so important in individual sports like skating anyway?

    I can understand nationality being important in team sports like football, rugby or hockey, where the team is actively representing the country. But in individual (or even pair) sports, nationality should just be a means of describing the athlete.

    I am not a sportsperson, so I don’t know how a sportsperson thinks. But, if I was a skater, this is the order of priority I would have for who I was representing:

    1. I am competing for myself.
    2. I am competing for my coach.
    3. I am competing for my choreographer.
    4. I am competing for my hometown/home rink.
    5. I am competing for my county/province/state.
    6. I am competing for my country.

    In pairs skating and ice dance, I do not agree that both people in the partnership have to compete under the flag of the same country. That rule was fine in the old days when skaters were nearly always partnered with somebody from the same state/province/country, largely because travel was difficult and people generally only spoke one language.

    But now, travel is much easier, people speak multiple languages (particularly English), and there is the internet. Skaters are moving to be near the best coaches, and coaches are moving to be near a bigger pool of skaters.

    The result is that, nowadays, it is more common to have partnerships where the 2 skaters are different nationalities. Here are just a few examples from Pairs and Dance:

    Narumi Takahashi (Japanese) and Mervin Tran (Canadian) representing Japan.
    Alyona Savchenko (Ukrainian) and Robin Szolkowy (German) representing Germany.
    Yuko Kavaguchi (Japanese) and Alexander Smirnoff (Russian) representing Russia.
    Stefania Berton (Italian) and Ondřej Hotárek (Czech) representing Italy.
    Nelli Zhiganshina (Russian) and Alexander Gazsi (German) representing Germany.

    Elena Ilinykh (Kazakh) and Nikita Katsalapov (Russian) representing Russia.
    Kaitlyn Weaver (American) and Andrew Poje (Canadian) representing Canada.
    Pernelle Carron (French) and Lloyd Jones (Welsh) representing France.
    Isabella Tobias (American) and Deividas Stagniūnas (Lithuanian) representing Lithuania.
    Allison Reed (Japanese/American) and Otar Japaridze (Georgian) representing Georgia.

    It would be much fairer if each half of the partnership were to have their own nationality displayed in the entry lists. If they get onto the podium, then both flags should be displayed. Of course, this could cause problems in competitions where they have a medal count for each country (such as the Olympics). But, that could easily be solved by counting the 2 medals from the partnership separately. In fact, to make everything fair, that should also be done for the partnerships were both are the same nationality.

    Of course, under this hypothetical system, having dual-nationality would throw a spanner into the works. Where would the medal won by the person with dual-nationality be credited? If the athlete had to specify a country to be credited with the medal, then we would be in the same situation of having to choose which nationality they are. And, it would seem silly if each country was credited with half a medal!

    I have made obvious on this forum that I was born in and have lived my entire life in Northern Ireland. As a result, I automatically have dual nationality (British and Irish). This can be helpful in many respects. But if you are a sportsperson, it is a total nightmare.

    If you want to compete on the international level, you have to choose which country you want to represent. Now, as skating fans, we all know that you base your choice on which country you have more chance of getting selected for. Just ask Vanessa James.

    In the case of Northern Irish sportspeople, the answer is nearly always Ireland. It is simple mathematics. Ireland has a far smaller population than the UK; therefore there is a smaller pool of athletes to be selected from in Ireland than in the UK; therefore you have more chance of being selected for Ireland than you have for the UK.

    However, the media in Northern Ireland don’t seem to realise that. Whenever somebody decides to declare for one side or the other, our media pounces on it and makes out that the sportsperson in question is making a political statement. So, if somebody declares for Ireland, then half of our media condemns them as a traitor; and if somebody declares for the UK, then the other half of our media condemns them as a traitor!

    But, I suppose that is what happens when you live in a country with tribal politics and tribal media!

    Anyway, what I am trying to say is that under rules where you represent a specific country, having dual nationality can be as problematic as not having it.

    So, it would be better if the IOC and the individual sports governing bodies took the attitude that in individual or pairs sports, nationality was to be used merely as a means of describing the sportsperson. Everything is made much more complicated if nationality actually means something.

    CaroLiza_fan
    Last edited by CaroLiza_fan; 12-22-2012 at 08:53 AM.

  9. #99
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    Quote Originally Posted by eyria View Post
    Olympia mentioned the two highest-profile partner "remixings", but there are certainly other cases. The best current example is Volosozhar/Trankov. These two have had the most success together. However, both placed 4th at Worlds with their previous partners, so they were quite successful beforehand, just not quite reaching the medal positions.

    Another example would be Anjelika Krylova in ice dance. Krylova won world bronze with Alexander Fedorov, then teamed with Oleg Ovsiannakov for world silver medals and the OSM. So, two very successful partnerships for her at the World level.

    Then there's Jamie Sale. She made it to the 1994 Olympics with a previous partner, Jason Turner, before winning the OGM with Pelletier in 2002. She & Turner were pretty far back in the standings in 1994, but just being there represented a level of success.

    Also we have the Denney/Coughlin team in the U.S. These are two skaters who placed 6th and 7th at Worlds with previous partners, now skating together as a remixed team and placing 8th last year.

    So I think there is certainly hope that Takahashi and Tran can have equivalent or greater success with other partners, the key of course is finding those partners.
    Just have to add . . . Another very successful example of "remixing" was actually Berezhnaya/Sikharulidze. Prior to winning World and Olympic gold, these two both placed fairly high at Worlds--6th and 7th--with previous partners.

    Sikharulidze's former partner Maria Petrova also went on to win 4 World medals, including one gold, in a later partnerhsip with Alexei Tikhonov.

  10. #100
    Celebrating the Excellence of #VirtueMoir golden411's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaroLiza_fan View Post
    [Now that I think of it, have we ever had a Black/Asian partnership before in either pairs skating or ice dance? Because I can’t think of any!]
    Do Kharis Ralph/Asher Hill fit this description? I believe that she is of Filipino descent.

    ETA:
    If CaroLiza_fan's question refers to Asian heritage (as I assume it does?), then I still think that R/H meet the criteria.
    Only as an aside: I just checked their Skate Canada bio, which says that she was born in Washington, DC.
    I had no idea.
    Last edited by golden411; 12-22-2012 at 09:59 AM.

  11. #101
    EZETTIE LATUASV IVAKMHA CaroLiza_fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by golden411 View Post
    Do Kharis Ralph/Asher Hill fit this description? I believe that she is of Filipino descent.

    ETA:
    If CaroLiza_fan's question refers to Asian heritage (as I assume it does?), then I still think that R/H meet the criteria.
    As an aside: I just checked their Skate Canada bio, which says that she was born in Washington, DC.
    I had no idea.
    You know, Asher was the first person that came into my head when I was thinking about other black skaters. But it never actually dawned on me to look up Kharis.

    I never realised that she was of Asian descent (you are right - according to Wikipedia, her Mum is Filipino). Or that she was born in the USA. So, thank you for those pieces of information!

    And, yeah, I was referring to heritage as well as place of birth.

    Thank you again

    CaroLiza_fan

  12. #102
    Spiral Lover tulosai's Avatar
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    I'm late to the conversation but I am SO BUMMED OUT by this news. I don't really have anything to offer in the way of speculation that hasn't already been said, but in the end I don't even really care why they are splitting up- it stinks either way.

    I hope they are both able to find new partners.

  13. #103
    Custom Title starryxskies's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaroLiza_fan View Post
    Why is nationality so important in individual sports like skating anyway?

    I can understand nationality being important in team sports like football, rugby or hockey, where the team is actively representing the country. But in individual (or even pair) sports, nationality should just be a means of describing the athlete.

    I am not a sportsperson, so I don’t know how a sportsperson thinks. But, if I was a skater, this is the order of priority I would have for who I was representing:

    1. I am competing for myself.
    2. I am competing for my coach.
    3. I am competing for my choreographer.
    4. I am competing for my hometown/home rink.
    5. I am competing for my county/province/state.
    6. I am competing for my country.


    It would be much fairer if each half of the partnership were to have their own nationality displayed in the entry lists. If they get onto the podium, then both flags should be displayed. Of course, this could cause problems in competitions where they have a medal count for each country (such as the Olympics).

    So, it would be better if the IOC and the individual sports governing bodies took the attitude that in individual or pairs sports, nationality was to be used merely as a means of describing the sportsperson. Everything is made much more complicated if nationality actually means something.
    The whole nationality thing is exclusively for the Olympics. IOC has this requirement. The ISU has no problem with nationality, which is why Taka/Tran could compete at Worlds. I would agree with your #1-6 skating priority, which I would apply to Worlds and ISU events. With Olympics, I would definitely NOT place country as number 6. Ideally it should be #1 along with skating for yourself. The point of the Olympics is unifying countries and sports together. Athletes are representing their countries in competition to show the world. It's also supposed to be an honour to represent and compete for your country. For casual viewers, they often associate sports with countries that dominate. Speed Skating for South Korea, diving for China. With the olympics, it's just very country orientated. Which is why I believe IOC has this requirement right now. In order to truly represent a country in an event that represents unification, you have to be one of your country's people. It makes sense to me in this way, but I think IOC should leave it to the country's Olympic committee. If they are cool with a foreigner representing them internationally, then it should be cool and end of discussion.

    I do agree with your dual nationality comments, although it would not help Taka/Tran at all in their case. But great points. Wish there was some way to pass on these comments to the immigration department. Being from Hong Kong and raised in Canada, it would devastate me to have to choose. I associate myself with both places very well so I can imagine how difficult it must be. Although it seems as though most people end up choosing Japan as I rarely see any Japanese people in my area compared to other Asian ethnicities.

  14. #104
    Custom Title Nadia01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaroLiza_fan View Post
    I can understand the Japanese government not giving dual nationality to people without Japanese ancestry. After all, Japan is a small group of islands that are densely populated. There is only a limited amount of space for the people to live, and for crops to be grown to feed these people. So, by all means limit immigration. But, I think the Japanese government should be looking after the descendants of their own people better.
    Actually even that statement is not truly applicable any longer. Japan's facing a major de-population crisis due to some ridiculously low birth rate, and it's doing everything it can think of to increase the rate, which isn't working. (Of course their govt ministers saying stuff like how women are baby making machines doesn't help!) The govt is incredibly worried about the future with too many old people and too few young people, with many women choosing not to work due to discrimination in pay and promotion and so on.

    Anyway, back to your point --

    I think that Japan believes you're either intrinsically Japanese or not. The way you intrinsically become Japanese is by blood or by living in Japan for so long that you become like Japanese.

    And I must note that becoming an American citizen isn't that easy either, unless you're born in America or to American parents. You must get the permanent residency, then wait 5 years (you must live in the States for 5 years) then apply and wait and wait and wait, which can take over a year. Then you go in for a test (citizenship test). If you pass, you are asked to come back for the ceremony where you swear your allegiance to the US.

    Of course, the JP way is much longer and complicated, but Tran may be better off not being Japanese after all given the homogeneity of the nation and that he has the rest of his life to think about after his competitive skating career's over.

  15. #105
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    There are HUGE differences between getting American citizenship and getting Japanese citizenship. First of all, to get Japanese citizenship, you must reside in Japan for a minimum of TEN years before applying while the residence period is only FIVE years for the US. In Japan, you must demonstrate that you read, write and speak Japanese fluently---and that could take far more than 10 years. In the US, you must be able to pass a citizenship test, but the need to speak, read and write English fluently is not required. The biggest difference is that the US allows dual citizenship, so a new citizen can keep the citizenship he/she came in with, and can even acquire other citizenships after becoming a US citizen without losing US citizenship. Not so in Japan---the previous citizenship must be renounced, and obtaining another citizenship automatically causes loss of Japanese citizenship.

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