Shoma Uno grapples with goals | Golden Skate

News Shoma Uno grapples with goals

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gsk8

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Uno talks about his enthusiasm for the sport, his struggle with finding goals, and more.

"To be honest, it's not often that I appear to enjoy skating," he said. "How to say this, I don't want to misspeak, but like, it's me who doesn't do any warmups, I only do practices. Those around me also acknowledge the approach I have towards this sport called skating. But even if they wouldn't acknowledge, I know that I'm not wrong. And I think that's how I am where I am now, and how I encountered the people around me."
 

ladyjane

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I like this guy. He's doing his own thing, he wishes to please his supporters (and we all recall that Stephane stepped in when he was not doing so well a few years ago) and doesn't yet know how to please himself. He admires others, acknowledges his own shortcomings without becoming a sycophant. Shoma for ever.
 
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Jeanie19

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He should feel amazing. This is his 13th International year. 4 years as a junior, one year overlap so 10 years as a senior. That is a long career, most of it at the top and he is still in the running for Gold at Worlds. I hope he continues on through the Olympics. Very few skaters go to 3 Olympics.
 

rabidline

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Ah, I thought some of the quotes sounded familiar. I think this is from the morning interview with a group of journalists before the GPF gala, I read it earlier from Nikkan Sports which has the original interview transcript with the questions and answers in chronological order but it's paid content. I think Shoma's answers get confusing at times but I commend the writer for trying to put Shoma's answers together to write this article, they did a great job.

The original interview transcript is this: https://www.nikkansports.com/premium/sports/figure/news/202312100000512.html

Some nuance that may help in deciphering Shoma's increasingly convoluted quotes:

- Shoma thinks he's able become the skater he is right now, and approach skating the way he does, because the people around him don't force him to do (skating-related) things, and he feels blessed because of that.

- Shoma was sad at NHK Trophy but he didn't feel frustration/sadness now (meaning after GPF). At NHK, no matter where he placed (2nd or 3rd) he would still feel regret. But at GPF, Ilia was just too amazing. Regardless, Shoma felt glad that he skates since he gets to meet many amazing people that has become close to him through skating.

- In terms of competing with Ilia, Shoma thinks he might be barely able to do it this year (barely keeping up with Ilia's skating). But he doesn't know if he's able to keep it that close next year or the year after. (He pretty much said that it's going to be harder as he gets older and this season is likely his last chance to make it competitive with Ilia. Next year Shoma said he won't have a chance to win). But it doesn't mean Shoma won't do it (seem to mean that it doesn't mean he'll stop competing).

- In terms of PCS, he explains that there is a difference of 4-5 points between him and Ilia. He thinks Ilia's PCS will continue to improve from now on, but currently they (including Shoma) are already close to the limit of 100 PCS (he further mentioned that there are too many skaters close to this maximum limit of 100 PCS right now, and he wonders if it's a good thing when everyone gets 100 PCS). So that gap can be closed by a jumping pass. With the rule that PCS goes down if the skater makes mistakes, that also comes into factor.

- Shoma thinks Ilia made such a big leap in terms of jumping skills. In the past when a new jump is landed, other skaters would start landing it too, but he acknowledged that with the 4A it is just too extreme. (This is in line where he said if Ilia didn't land 4A, that jump would remain unknown).

- Shoma's at the point where he feels fine working at both expressivity and jumps, but he thinks it may be difficult for skaters younger than him going into the future. He has a feeling if things remain like this, Ilia will end up being the sole leader of figure skating and it can become boring to Ilia (maybe in the sense of no one can challenge him in terms of scores).

The Nathan praise is as cute as it sounds. Shoma... there's the Japanese version of Nathan's biography you can read to understand his motivation...
 
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gsk8

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Ah, I thought some of the quotes sounded familiar. Nikkan Sports has the original interview transcript with the questions and answers in chronological order but it's paid content (and it's in Japanese). I think it gets confusing at times but I commend the writer for trying to put Shoma's answers together.

The original interview transcript is this: https://www.nikkansports.com/premium/sports/figure/news/202312100000512.html

Appreciate the input, but we did have our own journalist present for the "group" interview. It wasn't exclusive to Nikkan Sports. We got the same stuff they did, except ours is free.

It just took us a little longer to put up as we were having it translated.
 

readernick

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Ah, I thought some of the quotes sounded familiar. Nikkan Sports has the original interview transcript with the questions and answers in chronological order but it's paid content (and it's in Japanese). I think it gets confusing at times but I commend the writer for trying to put Shoma's answers together.

The original interview transcript is this: https://www.nikkansports.com/premium/sports/figure/news/202312100000512.html

Some nuance that may help in deciphering Shoma's increasingly convoluted quotes:

- Shoma thinks he's able become the skater he is right now, and approach skating the way he does, because the people around him don't force him to do (skating-related) things, and he feels blessed because of that.

- Shoma was sad at NHK Trophy but he didn't feel frustration/sadness now (meaning after GPF). At NHK, no matter where he placed (2nd or 3rd) he would still feel regret. But at GPF, Ilia was just too amazing. Regardless, Shoma felt glad that he skates since he gets to meet many amazing people that has become close to him through skating.

- In terms of competing with Ilia, Shoma thinks he might be barely able to do it this year (barely keeping up with Ilia's skating). But he doesn't know if he's able to keep it that close next year or the year after. (He pretty much said that it's going to be harder as he gets older and this season is likely his last chance to make it competitive with Ilia. Next year Shoma said he won't have a chance to win). But it doesn't mean Shoma won't do it (seem to mean that it doesn't mean he'll stop competing).

- In terms of PCS, he explains that there is a difference of 4-5 points between him and Ilia. He thinks Ilia's PCS will continue to improve from now on, but currently they (including Shoma) are already close to the limit of 100 PCS (he further mentioned that there are too many skaters close to this maximum limit of 100 PCS right now, and he wonders if it's a good thing when everyone gets 100 PCS). So that gap can be closed by a jumping pass. With the rule that PCS goes down if the skater makes mistakes, that also comes into factor.

- Shoma thinks Ilia made such a big leap in terms of jumping skills. In the past when a new jump is landed, other skaters would start landing it too, but he acknowledged that with the 4A it is just too extreme. (This is in line where he said if Ilia didn't land 4A, that jump would remain unknown).

- Shoma's at the point where he feels fine working at both expressivity and jumps, but he thinks it may be difficult for skaters younger than him going into the future. He has a feeling if things remain like this, Ilia will end up being the sole leader of figure skating and it can become boring to Ilia (maybe in the sense of no one can challenge him in terms of scores).

The Nathan praise is as cute as it sounds. Shoma... there's the Japanese version of Nathan's biography you can read to understand his motivation...

There's another paid interview too with Shoma after this with Mainichi... he's been chattier these days 😁
Thanks this makes the interview more clear. I always enjoy listening to Shoma. He comes across as humble, self-aware, and thoughtful. At times, his thoughts can seem a bit scrattered when translated ( perhaps they are a bit scattered in Japanese as well 😂) . I hope he finds personal joy from skating and doesn't just do it to please others.
 
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rabidline

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Thanks this makes the interview more clear. I always enjoy listening to Shoma. He comes across as humble, self-aware, and thoughtful. At times, his thoughts can seem a bit scrattered when translated ( perhaps they are a bit scattered in Japanese as well 😂) . I hope he finds personal joy from skating and not just do it to please others.
I always enjoy listening to him too!

Shoma's thoughts tends to come across as somehow both overwrought and scattered in articles (both Japanese and English translation) but this is because his answers have been longer and longer lately and he chose words which nuance have confused even the more seasoned Japanese FS journalists. And you really have to already read the previous interviews he's given since he tends to refer to his more recent ones to reflect whether he has changed his perspective or not since then.

So I enjoy hunting for his full interview transcripts, especially the ones that have the questions intact. I don't envy journalists and writers that have to contextualize his interviews to write articles though, but I really respect their efforts.
 
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rabidline

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Appreciate the input, but we did have our own journalist present for the "group" interview. It wasn't exclusive to Nikkan Sports. We got the same stuff they did, except ours is free.

It just took us a little longer to put up as we were having it translated.
Thank you for your work! Yes, I assume so. Nikkan Sports usually get two different types of content out after this kind of interview: the full transcript with the Q&A fully intact, and an editorialized article. I think your piece leans more towards the second type, and there are some parts where the translation gets a bit repetitive and confusing (Shoma's feelings after NHK compared to GPF, for example), so I tried bringing in what the full transcript can help in deciphering his quotes.

But nevertheless- you did a great job, thank you for sharing the article with us.
 
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gsk8

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Thank you for your work! Yes, I assume so. Nikkan Sports usually get two different types of content out after this kind of interview

Right, except this was not a "Nikkan Sports" interview. It was a group interview and included questions from our Golden Skate journalist :)

The questions were not arranged in any particular order. The Japanese press just put it up the responses in Q&A format.

Appreciate the "nuances"!
 

icewhite

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Dec 7, 2022
This leaves me 🤔😵‍💫😟

I do not really know how to put my feelings about this in words. But I think it leaves me with feelings of sadness and irritation. As a current and two time world champion who overall is applauded and loved by fans, respected by rivals and not under immense pressure to win, he does not enjoy skating, but does it for his coach. Maybe for others that's totally fine, me, I find it sad. I would love to see him continue to skate the next Olympics, because him stopping skating would be a loss, but if it is like this, I would actually rather not.
I know he has struggled with motivation in the past. He is very positive towards and thankful for Lambiel, but - I have to admit, I already have a negative opinion of Lambiel which influences the way I see this - I read that Lambiel said because of the judging at NHK it would be understandable if he didn't go to the GPF. I wonder how a coach could say something like that. You can read that as being supportive and understanding of Shoma's feelings, but in my eyes it is irresponsible from a coach to let their own over the top emotional feelings come to you and say something like that. In my eyes that's not motivating (nor rational). It says that the world does not appreciate you enough and hence it might not be worth it.

He is also very polite against Ilia, but basically I understand this as what's the point in even trying, nobody stands a chance against this jump wonder. Beautiful skating loses. While it might be true it's a depressing dreadful perspective for figure skating. I would hope that the other skaters can at least find pleasure in pursuing their own goals but for Shoma, that does not seem to be the case.

I appreciate the thoughtfulness and how, in very polite words, he expresses non generic notions. But I guess more generic, commonplace ambitious answers would leave me with a better feeling.
 

skylark

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I truly appreciate that Shoma is answering questions with his own, genuine truths, even though they're very nuanced, they're hard to express and for fans, often hard to hear. It's rare in this sport, maybe in any sport.

It's more "politically correct" currently to be a figure skater who finds motivation within himself. It's definitely more politically correct for a skater to articulate his goals, reeling them off by rote, than to say he has trouble knowing himself what they might be. But there are people in the world who aren't most motivated by goals -- maybe they're more motivated by something else. For just one aspect or example, perhaps they're motivated by the pleasure that an activity brings them in the moment. (And I think that's a good thing .... the world needs those people!) And when it doesn't bring them that inherent satisfaction any more, it may be time to say good-bye to that activity and turn their sights toward other aspirations. I think also of how pairs teams have diverse motivations. The most obvious example is Savchenko, who was motivated by competition, and Massot, who is much happier, with motivation from within, as a coach. Another example is Alexa Knierim and Chris Knierim.

As far as finding motivation within himself and speaking about being the skater that Stephane wants him to be, I'm reminded of how ridiculed Sally Field was when she accepted an Oscar and said, "I can't deny the fact that you like me. Right now, you like me. Field's words are often misquoted as: “You like me. You really, really like me.”

When Barbara Walters interviewed Sally, she ended with a short monologue. She said that what Sally had expressed was, in fact, the motivation for so many people in show business ... wanting people to like them. (not a direct quote: something like that) She ended this little monologue by saying that Sally was unusual, and courageous, because she said it out loud. And "because of that ... I like her."

So I wonder how many other skaters formulate their answers to these questions, and give them, and also know that their own secret reasons are somewhat different, or at the very least, much more complex than that. And that's SO okay! :)
 

figureskatingandrainbows

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I, for one, am glad to see a changing mentality within Japanese athletes. Shoma could be going for broke and trying every single quad, but instead he's acknowledging that he can only do so much, and if he does not win because of that, that's skating. Having an athlete who is focusing on themself rather than medals or placements is refreshing to watch in my opinion. I hope Shoma finishes the season satisfied and happy, with no regrets.

A little bit off-topic but I wonder if the ISU will refactor PCS scores this season or next in order to make the scoring more fair? Maybe instead of multiplying the scores by 1.6 and 3.3, they will do 2.0 and 4? I feel that would put the PCS scores more on par with the current technical level a lot of the top skaters have (60 and 120, which is high for TES scores but also achieved this season) and increase the BV of spins and step sequences slightly, to around 5 points, to balance out the increased PCS scores. As many have pointed out, the value of quads is worth far more than non-jump elements, and perhaps reorganizing the points slightly would help both technical and artistic skaters thrive. Of course, hopefully the value of the 4A would be increased as well, there is a 2-ish point difference between a 3Lz and 3A and perhaps the same differential should be applied between a 4Lz and 4A. Just a random shower thought, good luck at JNats Shoma!
 

readernick

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I'm the opposite and felt better since he expressed his thoughts in a very non-generic, honest way. But I understand what you mean.
Yes, I love Shoma's honesty. He never puts others down but he also tells the truth. I prefer this to canned answers. Rika Kihira was quite direct and honest in her interviews as well. It's probably why I'm quite of the fan of both.

It did make me sad that he doesn't really skate for his own enjoyment. But, I do think there is satisfaction in competing things you put your mind to and I hope Shoma manages to skate in a way that makes him feel he's fulfilled his potential.

What he said about Ilya is true, maybe it is uncomfortable and disheartening to hear but the technical ceiling doesn't have the same cap that the artistic one does. If Ilya is clean with the layout he did here, no one else has a chance. It is what it is.
 
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lariko

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Uno talks about his enthusiasm for the sport, his struggle with finding goals, and more.

"To be honest, it's not often that I appear to enjoy skating," he said. "How to say this, I don't want to misspeak, but like, it's me who doesn't do any warmups, I only do practices. Those around me also acknowledge the approach I have towards this sport called skating. But even if they wouldn't acknowledge, I know that I'm not wrong. And I think that's how I am where I am now, and how I encountered the people around me."
Not sure what he is trying to say, but sounds kind of Uno?
 

gsk8

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he does not enjoy skating, but does it for his coach. Maybe for others that's totally fine, me, I find it sad. I would love to see him continue to skate the next Olympics, because him stopping skating would be a loss,

Same. It does leave me feeling sad. I really hope he finds the motivation to continue because I agree his loss will be felt.

I think it's healthy for any athlete to want to please their coach, but it seems at every event he mentions what Lambiel "wants or likes." This is what concerns me.

I want to see him happy, but he has always been a bit stoic and that's just him. But I wonder if it's because he's not finding the passion anymore.
 

Mirunna

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Strange interview, but refreshing and telling. He has always been hard to read. I find his skating interesting, you can see the Lambiel in there, but only up to a point. I think he is a bright young man, I suspect he is an introvert and likes to keel within himself, which is why he falls short when trying to explain personal things. I feel he didn’t manage to accurately explain his inner thoughts and challenges. Hence the enigmatic tone.
 

TontoK

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I like that Shoma was open and honest. It's much more enlightening than the typical "butterflies and rainbows" responses we get from many skaters.

I think it's worthwhile to put these comments in the context of a career. Shoma has been skating at a very high level for a very long time. Even if one is still in love with the sport, there must be a feeling of general fatigue. Who wouldn't be tired of the endless practice sessions, the endless drills, the grind of it all? Knowing that tomorrow will be the same as yesterday, the same as it was last year, and five years ago?

As far as the thing with Ilia (and honestly, Yuma, too)... every great champion is dethroned one day. It's the natural order of things. I think Shoma realizes his time is near. As he said, maybe not this year, but soon.
 

Sai Bon

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We are fortunate that Shoma has chosen to skate for so long.
I like that Shoma was open and honest. It's much more enlightening than the typical "butterflies and rainbows" responses we get from many skaters.

I think it's worthwhile to put these comments in the context of a career. Shoma has been skating at a very high level for a very long time. Even if one is still in love with the sport, there must be a feeling of general fatigue. Who wouldn't be tired of the endless practice sessions, the endless drills, the grind of it all? Knowing that tomorrow will be the same as yesterday, the same as it was last year, and five years ago?

As far as the thing with Ilia (and honestly, Yuma, too)... every great champion is dethroned one day. It's the natural order of things. I think Shoma realizes his time is near. As he said, maybe not this year, but soon.
We are fortunate that Shoma has chosen to skate competitively for so long. He could have retired after the last Olympics. I do wonder if he is thinking of retiring at the end of this season. He would have a stellar career doing shows and whatever else he chooses to do.
 
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