Skaters on Team Japan

mikaboo

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Question: I've always thought the Honda kids' father is Takeshi Honda. Are they related or do they just happen to have the same surname? Thanks!

Just the same surname I think. Honda is a common name just like Kalina says.
I couldn't find any info on Miyu + her 4 siblings' father except that he is an ordinary "salaryman".
Takeshi is only 33 years old so I imagine he is too young to be the father of Miyu's big brother Taichi who is 15 and I don't even know if he's the eldest.
 

lbc2138

On the Ice
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Random observation but is there a reason why Yuzuru, Mao, Kanako and Taka all use the same sort of blades?

Are they sponsored by the company? I think I've seen other junior skaters use similar blades
 

Kalina

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Skaters use whatever they prefer in terms of boot/blades. They do not choose on the basis of a sponsor - if anything it's the company that might decide to give the boots/blades to them for free after. Yuzuru has appeared in the ads for Edea and John Wilson for the past two years and I guess that's when it started. But he'd been using the same kind of blades since he was a kid, and changed the boots like one year before that? Or something like that.

He and Patrick actually do not use the same kind of boot, just same brand. Patrick skates on Edea Concerto, Yuzuru on Edea Ice Fly (same as Akiko, Daisuke and many top skaters).
There are also many skaters who use Revolution blades but that's just a 'type' of blade and not a 'model' or 'brand' - Revolution blades are made in part of carbon fiber which makes them lighter, and they have an unique shape. But Akiko and Mao use John Wilson Gold Seal, Yuzuru John Wilson Pattern 99. Revolution blades are a recent development so they've always used the same kind of blades but switched to the Revolution variant when they came out.

I might repeat myself but do not believe all that you read on Tumblr (though I don't know if that recent post on blades was published after reading here or viceversa). I've been seeing a lot of funny stuff in the tag - yesterday there was a post with a old photo of a Chinese skater who took a photo with Yuzuru when they were children and she was referred to as 'Yuzuru's sister Saya'. This is just one of many.
 

ioanna

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Thank you for sharing! Dai having the most dork moments out of all does not surprise me. Also seeing Taka in his latino outfit reminded me of the Mambo group number he did with Dai, Akiko, Shizuka and Shae-Lynn Bourne at Friends On Ice 2011 so I'll post the link here :biggrin: That mambo SP of Dai's did wonders among his team mates. I remember even Yuzuru was doing parts of the choreography.

http://video.yandex.ru/users/jejel/view/323/?cauthor=jejel&cid=15
 

lbc2138

On the Ice
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Thank you for sharing! Dai having the most dork moments out of all does not surprise me. Also seeing Taka in his latino outfit reminded me of the Mambo group number he did with Dai, Akiko, Shizuka and Shae-Lynn Bourne at Friends On Ice 2011 so I'll post the link here :biggrin: That mambo SP of Dai's did wonders among his team mates. I remember even Yuzuru was doing parts of the choreography.

http://video.yandex.ru/users/jejel/view/323/?cauthor=jejel&cid=15

Wow, I watched the finale and Yuzuru landed the quad salchow... haha it's strange to think that he's been struggling with this jump for two seasons and he lands it comfortably during ice shows.
 

lbc2138

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I might repeat myself but do not believe all that you read on Tumblr (though I don't know if that recent post on blades was published after reading here or viceversa). I've been seeing a lot of funny stuff in the tag - yesterday there was a post with a old photo of a Chinese skater who took a photo with Yuzuru when they were children and she was referred to as 'Yuzuru's sister Saya'. This is just one of many.

Are you talking about this post? https://24.media.tumblr.com/6cd03b8f8632e32997b904c1b8a917d1/tumblr_n528k14Ap01tya15so1_400.jpg
 

ioanna

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Wow, I watched the finale and Yuzuru landed the quad salchow... haha it's strange to think that he's been struggling with this jump for two seasons and he lands it comfortably during ice shows.

I think in competition he most likely gets a mental block. He struggles really hard to do it right and ends up falling.
 

yude

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Hi, this is an article of Akiko Suzuki done in Apri l:)

http://sportiva.shueisha.co.jp/clm/othersports/2014/04/25/post_356/

Courage of Hanyu, tears of Mao. The Captain, Akiko Suzuki, observes the team Japan.

Akiko Suzuki looked back on her skating life including eighth place winning prize in the Sochi Olympics in February. She bid farewell to her competitive life of 22 years, her last competition was the World Figure Skating Championships held in March this year.

The impression of the Sochi Olympics was "painful". I was not able to skate as expected after the injury in my foot I had in December got worse. It hurt so much even when I put my sneakers on... However, I could use all up even if the condition was not in perfect state.

Japan placed in the fifth in the team event which was held for the first time, you placed in the eighth in the individual event achieving to win the prize continuously following the Vancouver Olympics. Mao Asada-senshu placed in the sixth and Kanako Murakami-senshu placed in the twelfth.

We all couldn't leave good results people expected. We all knew that we left bad results in the short program on the first day, but we didn't exchange words each other in particular. Mao and Kana are younger than I am, but they are the athletes know exactly the fact that "we can't depend on somebody" and "you have to fight by yourself". We all three usually are on good terms, but each of us has different world and we don't step into it more than required. Just like that in Sochi. I heard from the coach that Mao gave a splendid performance in the free skating. At the moment we all three saw each other after the game, we embraced each other and wept bitterly. Of course there were no words. When I watched the video later, Mao looked as if "I gave it all". She had not cried on the ice until then. I really felt it was good for her.

Why did you three weep bitterly?

After all, it was because we carried our country on our back. It was really hard, but I think it was the tears of "we did our best and came this far". That was the moment we could understand each other without any word.

This time, you were charged with an important task called "captain" of team Japan in the team event.

I did nothing daringly because I knew all members very well. In the team event, Yuzu (Yuzuru Hanyu) led the van in Men's single. The atomosphere of the Olympics is always unique, but it was very different from the past Olympics because of the first team event. The cheer for Russia was tremendous and we were totally "away". But Yuzu jumped out there and concentrated on his performance, he finished his short program perfectly. He calmed down very much even though it was his first Olympics, he gave us in the cheering section some advises such as "it is difficult to hear the call of "the last one minute" in the 6-minutes-warm up because the cheer is so loud" or "you will hear a lot of sounds before doing the performance, but you'd better think it is for you". He is young, but he is cool-headed. He told us what he felt actually when he performed, it helped following skaters. Figure skating is an individual sport but we thought about how we all could do our best, it was like "he is fighting, so must I!" We improved supporting each other, I think it was a good team.

Sochi is the second Olympics for you following the Vancouver. Last time, you said , "I remembered only the the closing ceremony", but how about this time?

I did not remember much in Vancouver because I had only the individual event and short-staying there. Of course it was because I was also too much tense. I could feel the atmosphere of the Olympics this time and I had fun in that sense.

Following the Olympics, there was the world championships in Japan in March. This competition became your last game, but it seemed that you couldn't decide easily whether to participate or not.

Yes. I had the thought that I used all up by the Olympics, and I was feeling "I am tired" to compete. It did not seem to be able to tolerate pedialgia either. I cannot do my best anymore……then Daisuke Takahashi-senshu said to me like this. "You don't have to push harder, do you? Everyone is just waiting for you to see your skating." His words made me decide to go to the world championships. At the moment the world championships was over, I was relieved. I thought that I was able to finish an athletic career in peace, and I could retire being watched by the Japanese fans on the best stage called the world championships held in Japan, I couldn't be happier. "What should I do if results are bad? What should I do if I cannot give a good performance?", I often became scared and uneasy, but I was just happy to give it all this time. I was relieved, and at the same time, I felt this was the new start.

I've heard that you were afraid of the day you retire before.

Yes. I was thinking in a way that the retirement equals to "the end". However, as the day of retirement approached, I started thinking it would be more like "the start" than "the end". I retire myself from the competitive skating for sure, but that doesn't mean I quit skating. Therefore there was not the sentimental feeling like "this is the last skate". I will continue skating as a professional skater from now on. I like Ice shows from way back when. I can skate without being seized with rules, and the expression spreads endlessly. I am looking forward to doing my skating on the next stage.

Some people are wondering if Japan is all right after you retired because you had supported figure skating world so far.

I think it is going to be fine after I retired. There are a lot of young skaters doing their best at the high level, and we have the skaters growing beyond us who can compete against the world. But the world level raises steadily, it is hard to challenge it. I want them to be careful about injury because the difficulty of the skills are becoming higher and higher. There were the things that I was convinced of again through this Olympics, which were that I would like them to pursue the beauty of basic skating while the difficulty of jumps or spins are also important. And I would like them to give more personalities, too. I do not know how the rule is going to be changed, but the beauty and the personality of the skating will be important in future in any rule. Not only jumping and spinning the same as all, but I want them to put their personalities on them. For example, the skating of Kostner-senshu from Italy is free and easy, it is the example for all of us. I think that is the figure skating. I want them to cherish such a side of skating. Her skating has been matured by doing for a long time. In that sense, I would like the young skaters to spend athletic career as long as possible. The young skaters with momentum may hit the wall someday, but their skating should be changed when they got over it.

-continued
 

yude

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http://sportiva.shueisha.co.jp/clm/othersports/2014/04/25/post_357/

"The important thing is..." message to Mao Asada from Akiko Suzuki

There is a rumor of the retirement of Mao Asada-senshu. Daisuke Takahashi-senshu announced the one-year rest. Do you have any advise for the skaters who are in two minds about the retirement?

Each skater has his/her own mind for the skating and I think they are at a loss very much. I would advise them to think about "something you are able to do only now". Continue or not...it is their decision after all. The important thing is their feelings, so the answers must not be rushed. I hope people watch over them quietly. I continued competitive skating after the Vancouver Olympics, but it was one year before the Sochi Olympics that I decided to aim for Sochi. As for meantime, I was asked dozens of times, hundreds of times, "Are you going to aim for the Olympics, aren't you?", but I was thinking, "that's not what I intend...". The Olympics is a big competition, but I had not skated only for it.

It is possible to quit it anytime, isn't it?

I may think it is okay for them to have a choice "not to give a conclusion immediately". I don't want them to regret for their decisions in the last, I want them to think about it slowly and carefully. When they encounter with many people and see various things, they might think about it in different way. I want them to ponder over it being true to themselves and face themselves. I was led to the conclusion that I would retire because I could find what I wanted to do next and see the vision of me. Most of the figure skaters have continued only skating in all their lives, so if that fact is gone, we lose everything. When we find the next goal or dream, we'd better compare those and the passion for the competition. When I considered my future, I thought "I will do my best. Now." The coaches also said to me "Your career will lead to the next world". Participating in the Olympics or getting medals are going to broad the capacity of what I want to do in future. It's kind of "job hunting" to be a professional skater and a choreographer. You can see your future only by trying very hard now. If you want to be a professional skater, you have to become a skater who is invited to the shows. If you want to be a coach, you have to be a skater who is wished to be a coach. If you decide what you do in the rest of your competitive life taking future activities into an account, your possibility is going to be opened more. The more and more the skaters continue competitive skating for a long time, the more and more they give their passion, they feel the retirement equals to the end of their lives, but it is not. I may think they are allowed to continue competitive skating until they find something they are willing to do more.

In April, you have published your first book, "One by one. Little by little".

Yes. I had an idea that I wish I could tell what I got from past 22 years of my skating life in publishing a book. I am very glad that many people have read it right after it was released. Of course, many of the readers are figure skating fans, but I often hear the voices from them that they want non-fans to read it. That is what I have wished in publishing a book, so I am happy.

It is different from both the normal sports nonfiction and so-called autobiography.

Yes. I gave a book importantly this time, but my experience is only one case. All the people live with various troubles. It ranges from a small trouble to desperate one. I wish people suffering from school or work, people who are in pain or who can not produce results even with making efforts read this book. There are a lot of great self-culture books, but I hope this book is going to be some hints for them by reading my experience. When someone stumbles or has troubles, it would be great if this book was going to support them and attach a hand to their back softly.

Why did you put the title "One by one. Little by little."?

It was because I have lived my life in such a way. When I learn how to jump or change something, I am the type of person who takes time. There are the type of people who can do what they are told immediately, but I am not. I have to practice several times as other people to master. Therefore, I have built up efforts one by one, little by little. Nothing is going to lead to the future unless trying hard what I can do now. Of course, it will need a lot of patience to do something you can do little by little. I am often asked, "Are you tired of doing that?", but like it or not, that's the only way I can live.

Sometimes the things don't go well in our everyday lives, sometimes we are not willing to do anything. What should we do in such a case?

We sometimes have the time the things don't go well or we can't go forward in our lives. The more we try hard, the more we may feel be burdened. In such a situation, we should thank for a small thing. Because our minds can be changed by being thankful. Very small thing can be fine. It is important to laugh in the hard times. If you smile to someone, they smile back. If you are not able to laugh, only smiling is enough. If it is impossible, just say hello lively, with that alone something changes.

It is written about the time when you suffered from an eating disorder in this book.

Yes. I got out of shape right after I entered the university, and the weight that was 48 kilos had decreased to 32 kilos. It was the eating disorder which didn't allow me to even get a meal. Not to mention skating, I couldn't eat and walk. Because physical strength declined, it was difficult to sleep well. I was 18 years old, it was 11 years ago from now.

Did you ever think that you would appear in the Olympics twice in the future at that time?

I couldn't even imagine at all. Even if a person from the future came to tell us "Akiko Suzuki will compete in the Olympics twice", nobody must have believed that. And the same for me. Because I was barely enough to stand still. My mother tells me, "You were really like a ghost". But I was able to recover from there because she accepted me who could not have even a meal, because my coach Hiroshi Nagakubo had kept watching over me who couldn't skate. I went up the stairs one by one, little by little, after I overcame the eating disorder. It was impossible for me to do what I was able to handle easily when I was in the elementary school, but I tried to think "I'm not going back, but going forward", and the practice became fun.

Have you changed by having experienced the disease?

Before I became ill, I was a perfectionist even though I was not perfect. I set a hurdle high without knowing it and fell into self-hate because I couldn't jump over it. However, I came to leave some points that I can say "Oh, well" after I got sick.
I did not have the flexibility until I was 18 years old because I had considered being stoic as the only strength. But it is fragile without a part of easy-going. So I tried to have "Oh, well" part on purpose.

Your 22-years of competitive life was over. Please tell me your future aim.

I'd like to increase the number of people who like figure skating as much as possible. I want to become a missionary of that purpose. Participating in the Olympics or the world championships and retiring, both were the big turning points but those were the only passage points in my long life. I put a period on my competitive life, but I continue skating as a pro while my body moves. I hope I will be able to tell the children "there is future" through my skating. And my biggest dream is to become a world-famous choreographer. I am thinking of telling the hard-working skating kids about the joy in their skating, and at the same time, I want to teach them how to invest emotions into their performances along with the basic technique and expression.
 

Maria Victoria

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^Thanks so much Yude for sharing this insightful interview of Akiko, which revealed a person as beautiful as her skating as well as her perceptive "behind the scenes" vignettes of Olympic figure skating and of Team Japan. I think of her and also Carolina (mentioned also by Akiko) as skaters whose skating even improved with age, belying the common held notion that figure skating is a sport best left to young girls. Part of Akiko's appeal to me is that whatever she achieved in skating was through dint of effort ("little by little") and also by overcoming great personal obstacles. Nothing was given her, she had to earn every honor she got. Akiko finally winning the Japanese national title in her last competitive season, when many thought that achievement was past her, was to me one of the most heartwarming scenes in skating, and I wish her well in the next chapter of her skating life as choreographer. If joy in skating can be taught, surely no one is more capable than Akiko in doing so. :)
 

ioanna

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Thank you Yude for sharing that wonderful interview and Meoima for the link. Her free skate from the 2012-2013 season was magical and her performance at the NHK Trophy incredible. Team Japan will never be the same without Akiko's grace and joy for skating. She is an inspiration for all the young skaters as well as for the rest of us. I'm very glad Daisuke managed to convince her to skate one more time and end her competitive career in front of the home crowd. I wish he could have been able to do the same.
 

demarinis5

Gold for the Winter Prince!
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Thank you Yude! Great interview from a very special lady! I will miss Akiko's beautiful skating.
Wishing her success in her future endeavors!
 

deedee1

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Thanks a lot for such great translations, yude! :)

Kento Nakamura has announced his retirement from the competitive figure skating...sadly;;;
Here is his very last performence on May 3rd: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KvzqQo2tg24 where he had a pretty clean performance. So nice to see he nailed two 3As, and loved the very warm and friendly atomosphere created by all the audience there. Couldn't finish watching the vid without my tears, too...

He may not be the very top skaters in jump-wise, as well as competitive nerve-wise (too sweet personality, just like other J-boys like Nobunari), but very nice postures, soft blade touches to the ice, his graceful interpretation of the music, etc.; such one fine elegant skater Kento truly is whom I have always admireds. He could have made the national team for sure, if not representing Japan. My belief, rather sentimental and maybe selfish side of mine, is Kento would have made much better success in ice dance if only ice dance as a discipline were more popular in Japan. Yukina Ota for this matter, too. Such a shame indeed numerous injuries and the depth in singles in this country pushed these fine skaters to rather early retirement from the competitive skating. :cry:

For me this LP at J Nats in 2012-13 season is probably his best performance, despite of a fall on 3A: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ALjyKyCaWc Kento's and his coach Mr Higuchi's expression in the Kiss and Cry is just priceless! :yes:

Kento now goes back to college (Rikkyo University) to graduate next March. He does not say what his future plans will be, but whichever path he is to choose, best wishes to Kento! :yay:
 

ioanna

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Aaw, I liked Kento a lot :cry: Thank you deedee1 for the announcement. I wish all the best for him in university but I also hope to see him skating again some time.
 

YesWay

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Thanks a lot for such great translations, yude! :)

Kento Nakamura has announced his retirement from the competitive figure skating...sadly;;;
Here is his very last performence on May 3rd: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KvzqQo2tg24 where he had a pretty clean performance. So nice to see he nailed two 3As, and loved the very warm and friendly atomosphere created by all the audience there. Couldn't finish watching the vid without my tears, too...

He may not be the very top skaters in jump-wise, as well as competitive nerve-wise (too sweet personality, just like other J-boys like Nobunari), but very nice postures, soft blade touches to the ice, his graceful interpretation of the music, etc.; such one fine elegant skater Kento truly is whom I have always admireds. He could have made the national team for sure, if not representing Japan. My belief, rather sentimental and maybe selfish side of mine, is Kento would have made much better success in ice dance if only ice dance as a discipline were more popular in Japan. Yukina Ota for this matter, too. Such a shame indeed numerous injuries and the depth in singles in this country pushed these fine skaters to rather early retirement from the competitive skating. :cry:

For me this LP at J Nats in 2012-13 season is probably his best performance, despite of a fall on 3A: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ALjyKyCaWc Kento's and his coach Mr Higuchi's expression in the Kiss and Cry is just priceless! :yes:

Kento now goes back to college (Rikkyo University) to graduate next March. He does not say what his future plans will be, but whichever path he is to choose, best wishes to Kento! :yay:
Funny, I logged in just now to post about Kento retiring - but then I saw deedee1's post above. I couldn't have put it better.

My wife and I heard he was retiring a few days ago, and we were sorry to hear it. We met and chatted with him by chance, several times, at Finlandia 2012 - and he seemed such a nice, charming and likeable young man. He has good skating skills, and achieved some respectable results in his time. But I guess it's tough in Japan, as Deedee1 said :-/ He could have been national champion in any number of other countries...
 

ioanna

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A collection of the Japanese National Championships openings over the years

2002 Championship
2004 Championship
2005 Championship
2011 Championship
2012 Championship
2013 Championship

And lastly a combination of intros to the full version of Hiroyuki Sawano's bolero arrangement
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_bOZq_fwC4

Thank you to the respective uploaders for the videos.

Could not help noticing the men were completely missing from the earlier openings and I understand Daisuke being frustrated over it :laugh: I was expecting to see him, Nobunari Oda, Takeshi Honda, Kensuke Nakaniwa or even Takahiko Kozuka fighting for the single spot available for the Turin Olympics in the 2005 opening.
It's a different story nowadays.
 

Pamigena

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omg, thank you for posting this. The sparkle, the glitter and all that drama, just look at it! :laugh::love: I love it
(who needs understatement if you can have over the top awesomeness instead :laugh:)
 
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