Cathy Reed was interviewed at the end of last year for the current issue of the Japanese skating magazine "Quadruple Axel” (interviews were also conducted with Kana and Daisuke, Marina Zueva, Massimo Scali, Utako Nagamitsu and Satsuki Muramoto). Besides talking about the state of ice dance in Japan and her coaching at the Kurashiki FSC and the Kinoshita Ice Dance Academy, Cathy revealed her future plans and expressed her wish to carry on Chris’ legacy. I thought it was an interesting read.
Special guest – Cathy Reed
For the development of ice dance in Japan
As a Japanese ice dancer, who represented Japan at the Olympics twice, she has been a key figure of the Japanese ice dance scene for a long time. Her dream was to win an Olympic medal in ice dance, which she and her brother Chris pledged to do. We asked her to share her thoughts on promoting the sport and strengthening the athletes at a time when attention to ice dance is growing.
Profile: Born in 1987 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA. She was a leading figure in the Japanese ice dance scene with her brother Chris Reed (deceased). After the 14-15 season, she retired and is now active as a choreographer, coach and ice dance specialist.
--Daisuke Takahashi's ice dance challenge has made a big splash and has brought more attention to the couples/team sport. Cathy, you have been leading the Japanese ice dance scene for a long time, how do you feel about this?
Cathy: Well, I'm very excited that the couples competition is getting more attention! I think it's a great thing and I hope it will become even more popular in the future, but we have to remember that there have been many people who have worked hard to bring us to this good time. The first ice dance competition in the All-Japan Championships was held in 1956, 64 years ago. The first champions, Eiko Kaneko/Mikio Takeuchi, won eight consecutive titles and in 1962 became the first Japanese ice dancers to compete at the World Championships. In 1984, Noriko Sato and Tadayuki Takahashi represented Japan at the Sarajevo Olympics, finishing 17th. Junko Idemitsu (deceased), Echi Fuji, Mayumi Kato, Akiko Higashino and Reiko Taki, all of whom were at the forefront of the sport, have also supported the ice dance scene for a long time, working as judges, technical specialists and referees after their retirement. Kenji Miyamoto, Nakako Tsuzuki, Misao Sato, Shinji Ta, Akiyuki Kido, Shin Watanabe, Rie Arikawa, Emi Hirai and many others have worked as coaches and choreographers. This is the beginning of the history of ice dance in Japan. I was surprised to find out that so many people had done so much before us, and I am very grateful to all of them. I am sure that many new couples/teams will be born in the future, but I believe that the history built by these pioneers is the foundation of the current Japanese ice dance world.
--How do you think this attention to ice dance competitions is affecting the athletes?
Cathy: I think it's very inspiring. The media attention motivates them and helps them to improve. It's a shame that there have been a lot of competitions without spectators this season because of the Corona pandemic, but I think it’s good that more and more people are watching the athletic competitions through video streaming. I think it was a good thing for the athletes to receive the messages of support from the fans. “I want to show my best performance!” I am very grateful and happy that ice dance has become the focus of attention.
--In the past, there has been a lack of a good training environment for the couples/teams disciplines in Japan, which has made it difficult to strengthen the sport. With the establishment of the Kanku Ice Arena and the Kinoshita Acadamy last year, I think this will change dramatically.
Cathy: Yes. In Japan we don't have many rinks to begin with, and pairs and ice dancers can't practice together with singles competitors because they have to lift and use a large space. For these reasons, the number of places to practice has been limited for teams. Last year, the Kinoshita Academy and the Kanku Ice Arena were established, which is a great improvement. However, the environment is still not perfect. I also teach ice dancing in Kurashiki (Healthpia Kurashiki) during regular working hours. Fortunately, the rink in Kurashiki has a small number of skaters, so we are able to practice safely, but it is difficult on a crowded rink.
--Cathy, how do you teach your students?
Cathy: I work as a coach and ice dance instructor at the Kanku Ice Arena and at the Kurashiki rink, mainly at Kinoshita Academy. In fact, my brother Chris and I taught at the Kanku Ice Arena's 'Kinoshita Ice Dance School' as coaches! However, at the beginning of this year a number of things came up and our plans changed.
--When we spoke to you for this magazine last year, you told us that you and Chris had a lot of things planned.
Cathy: Yes, that's right. We had a lot of testimonies for the Ice Dance School, and Chris was really looking forward to it, because he had a lot of ideas about where to start and how to teach it. In January last year, we taught our first ice dance couple/team together and it was a wonderful two weeks. My feelings and vision have not changed one bit since I made the promise to Chris that we would create a very deep Japanese ice dance scene. I want to make ice dancing more popular in Japan and to train athletes, who can compete on the world stage.
-- It is said that the Japanese people are generally shy, but in recent years there has been an increase in the number of athletes taking part in couple/team competitions/disciplines.
Cathy: Yes, that's true. When I teach ice dancing and choreography, I try to create a happy atmosphere. This helps them to relax and to show the full range of their choreography. When I was little, I was very shy and didn't like to dance or express myself in front of other people, but as I discovered the fun of ice dancing, I became more and more open-minded. First of all, I wanted to learn how to skate and dance, and then I wanted to learn how to express myself. I think it is important to learn the fun of skating and dancing, and to learn the fun of playing a different character. The couple I teach in Kurashiki (Sumire Yoshida and Ibuki Ogahara) started ice dancing when they were 4 and 6 years old respectively. They were not shy to express themselves from the beginning, which surprised me more than them.
--The club in Kurashiki is very active in ice dancing. How did you come to teach in Kurashiki?
Cathy: Some years ago, I met Miyuki Sasaki from Kurashiki FSC at the training camp of Mie Hamada's team. Since then I’ve been teaching skating and choreography at the rink in Kurashiki and also started to teach ice dancing. Since they (Yoshida and Ogahara) started skating, I have been going to Kurashiki to teach them once or twice a month, and they have been practising even when I am not there, so their progress has been very good. They love to dance and are not shy in expressing themselves to the music, which I think is very good for ice dancing and I really enjoy teaching them.
--From this season, you are also instructing the team of Misato Komatsubara / Tim Koleto.
Cathy: The two are studying under Marie-France Dubreuil, Patrice Lauzon, Romain Haguenauer in Montreal, but only on weekends as they cannot receive direct guidance due to the corona pandemic. From August of this year, we have been training at Kansai International Airport (Kanku Ice Arena). I have never taught a senior level ice dance team, so I study a lot and I feel that it is a very good experience for me. The twizzles and lifts are very sophisticated. This season they have further refined their ability to express themselves while skating and connecting with speed and power. I am looking forward to seeing the results in competition. I think that they are a married couple in real life is also an advantage that they can accumulate their own experiences in the program's story.
--We are very excited. What are your expectations for the future of ice dance in Japan?
Cathy: This season we had 5 couples competing in the All Japan Novice Championships. At the West Japan Championships, we had 3 couples in both Junior and Senior, and at the NHK Cup, we had 3 Senior couples. I hope that more couples will follow in their footsteps. I would also like to see more opportunities to compete in Japan. At the moment there are only All Japan Novice, East Japan, West Japan and All Japan. If there were more competitions, it would motivate the skaters and help them to improve their performance. It would be also great if we could have more opportunities to perform in ice shows.
--What is your dream for the future?
Cathy: My dream is that Japanese ice dancers will win an Olympic medal. We didn't get a medal, so I want to pass on my dream to the next generation and I want to help/want to do my best for Japanese ice dance. We have two chances to win an Olympic medal, one in the individual competition and one in the team competition, so I hope the athletes will do their best. I am also working as a (technical) specialist in Japan to broaden my activities and I am about to qualify as a specialist with the ISU. I want to learn the history, the rules, create a good program and develop young teams. I want to do my best to guide them on their way to becoming top ice dancers in the world.
--Thank you very much for your valuable talk. Nowadays, more and more people are watching ice dancing, what do you think they should look out for to enjoy the competition more?
Cathy: I think it's to see what the couples/teams on the ice are doing, how they are acting, how they are expressing their emotions. I think the beauty of ice dancing is that a woman and a man skate together and create a story. Watch the ice dancers move, listen to the music, feel the joy and sadness they express, be entertained and get emotional. It is important to feel the skill and beauty of each element, but a good program is not about the elements.
--Finally, please give us a message to your fans.
Cathy: Thank you for all your support. Chris’ and my dream isn’t finished yet. I took the jersey that Chris wore at the Pyeongchang Olympics with me to the Novice event. I was going to be there with Chris for this competition. Having the jersey in my hands made me feel that I was fighting with Chris. I would like to carry on his legacy and try to make ice dance even more popular and pave the way for more ideal athletic dance. I hope you will join me and support me. Thank you very much for your support!