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Thread: Miki's candid take on JSF's interference, emotional struggles & being a foreigner

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    Tripping on the Podium
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    Miki's candid take on JSF's interference, emotional struggles & being a foreigner

    So the Japanese federation wanted Morozov gone!? They didn't offer support in Tokyo 2007? What's going on in her personal life that makes her cry?! What's it like training as a foreigner in Russia?

    I found a translated version (in Japanese) of a Russian interview on twitter. I asked the translator for permission (which was kindly given) from the interviewer to post it here. Some of the questions asked are rather bold, and you can see Miki's vulnerable, at times awkward, but most of all sincere response. I find this so very interesting, and I hope you do too!

    Елена ВАЙЦЕХОВСКАЯ's original interview

    "Pagu Ken Momo (Pagu Dog Momo)"'s blog with her Japanese translation

    *Any Russian posters, you're welcome to help me out, starting with the spelling of her name in English!

    So here's my translation of the Japanese translation of the original Russian article

    Елена ВАЙЦЕХОВСКАЯ is an Olympic Gold Medalist (Diving)-turned- journalist.

    Miki Ando, Nikolai Morozov's pupil, has won two international titles in Moscow this season, Cup of Russia earlier in November and World Figure Skating Championships just last week, which incidentally was held in the same arena. Given that she also won Cup of Russia 2 years ago, the obvious good luck Moscow brings cannot be denied.

    Is it true that you were contemplating on taking a year off? Are you planning a retirement from the amateur field?

    Not anymore. After Vancouver I did think of taking a year off, but I've had a second thought. Nikolai convinced me that such move wouldn't be wise and that not competing at the then-scheduled Tokyo Worlds wouldn't be respectful to the Japanese fans.

    Why did you think of taking a year off in the first place then?

    I was simply tired. My life felt like it was all skating and it wasn't refreshing anymore. I thought a break would give me time to relax and provide new motivation.

    This is your 2nd World title. How does it compare to 2007?

    This one was more challenging. In 2007 I got injured right before the competition, preventing me from practicing for 2 weeks So the win was totally unexpected. This season, however, I knew I had a good chance of going on the podium. This motivated me to practice. Mentally, though, such hard practices required a tremendous amount of effort on my part.

    You've won everything except the Final in GP Series since last autumn. Were you really just going for a medal, or specifically Gold, at Worlds?

    I have to say I don't like thinking too much about medals. It's only whether you can skate your program well that's important. Quality that is. As long as I can show what I can do at competitions, the judges placement isn't such a big deal. The scores aren't that important. The inner satisfaction from having shown your best quality, probably with another context in life contributing, is sometimes much better than winning a medal.

    I sensed awkwardness, something not right, when observing you on the Moscow rink. On the surface you appeared strong and passionate, but you didn't look very happy.

    I think skaters usually don't appear happy or don't smile that much in competitions. We're very nervous and concentrating on our performance. I, too, wouldn't smile. This is completely personal, but frankly I'm going through a very tough time now. I was crying every day in Moscow this past week. Some of this might have shown in my performances, which isn't what I wanted it to be like of course.

    Has winning the competition changed any of that at all? in other words, are you going to continue to cry?
    I really hope not.

    You won with a free program which wasn't your best. Why do you think?

    I was so tired. Of everything. Of practicing and my personal issues. But I pulled off the best I could considering. I'm happy that I didn't make a big mistake, which is vital in a competition like Worlds.

    Were you surprised that Kim Yuna made mistakes?

    At the risk of sounding odd, I don't pay attention to how others skate. That's including Kim Yuna. That's irrelevant to my skating. I feel it's not right to judge how others skate. Figure skating inevitably attracts the kind of 'who did worse than whom" and vice versa, but skaters of the World Championship level all have got something that's superior to others. Just as people, countries, languages and tradition vary, we skaters all have got something different.

    You've been training with Morozov in Moscow for quite some time now. You must find living in a foreign country tough.

    It is. I like Russia, but I can't speak the language. It's such a challenge to be always surrounded by those who speak a language you don't understand. I've had a similar experience before, when I trained in the states with Nikolai. At the beginning I couldn't speak a word of English. The first thing Nikolai got me to do was study English. It was much later did I realise how right he was about this. Because the more I learned the language, the more friends I made, the more new things I learned, and the more culture I became able to explore.

    Now I'm working on Russian. I'm trying to speak Russian and listen carefully to what people are saying.

    How long have you been working under Morozov?

    5 years.

    So you remember the times when Takahashi, and later Oda, trained in the same team. It must have been a relief to have someone you could speak Japanese to.

    I know this is very strange, but we talk to each other in English for the most part. I speak English with Takahiko.


    I don't know really, but it has become that way somehow. The only time I speak Japanese is when I have competitions, shows or stuff to do whilst being in Japan.

    Going back to where we were, are you still planning on having a break?

    What I can say with confidence is that I intend to keep skating until Sochi. A break until then, if taken at all, would be one that's not so long, and I'd come back. After Sochi I'll think about what I'll do with my life. I could teach children, work in another field, or skate as a pro.

    Should you make Sochi, it will be your third Olympics. What have the past two been for you? Have they become memorable experience for you?

    I haven't got much to say about Torino. Being 19, I didn't really grasp what was going on around me. I simply tried to absorb as much as possible. I felt a great sense of fulfillment and pride to be an Olympian. Vancouver on the other hand was different. I treated it just like other competitions, in that my focus was to do my best. I have to say it didn't feel all that different from other competitions. The result was 5th place. Yeah, I was in 5th.

    With you on the ice and Morozov jumping with that intense look on the rink side, I sometimes don't know which one of you to watch. Do you have room in your head to pay attention to the coach by the board at all during the programs? Can you hear him?

    I can say this. It's that I have to know Nikolai is there. If he can't be there for whatever reason, I probably wouldn't be able to skate at all. I try not to look at him when I'm performing, but I know he's there. He's got such stunning energy. I can feel that, and I gain more strength and confidence.

    One more thing. I trust him completely, as a coach and as a person. It's also comforting to hear him say he trust me 100% when I skate.

    Do you take an issue out of the relationship between Japanese Skating Federation (JSF) and Morozov, that could be improved I shall say?
    No. It's not my place.

    But I heard that JSF attempted to convince you to change coaches?

    Yes. They said Nikolai isn't a suitable coach nor a choreographer and continuing with him would be a big mistake. It came out of blue.

    When was that?

    2009, just a bit before LA Worlds. Honestly I didn't know what was going on, as there had been no interest in me from JSF for 2 years up to that point. That's including when I won Tokyo Worlds in 2007 and withdrew from the free skate in Goteborg in 2009. They didn't show any interest. No one came to see me nor did they ask if I needed support. So I have to say I was kind of astonished to see their sudden interest in me in such manner right before LA Worlds.

    Many skaters say Morozov is a rather "unique" coach.
    I think you can say that.

    How do you interpret "unique" in this context? Of the things he's taught you, what do you think is the most important?

    Nikolai has provided me with a lot of love. For me to love skating, battle, and to understand why I need to skate. It's really hard to explain in words. It's similar to the feeling in me when I started skating. The rink was where my friends came to visit me When my dad died when I was 8, there was a lot on mum's plate. Then he has taught me, through skating, the feeling of happiness. Being beside Nikolai makes me feel happy again.
    Last edited by hikki; 05-04-2011 at 10:08 AM.

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