Sota Yamamoto | Page 56 | Golden Skate

Sota Yamamoto

rRainbow

On the Ice
Joined
Oct 22, 2018
Country
Japan
Part 2

--Your SP music is “Yesterday.”
S: I got a lot of positive response from fans and skaters around me, and I felt I was able to show a new side of me. After The Ice, my coach made some adjustments to the program and also brushed it up by changing the jump setup course to make it easier for me to jump. I realized again that she was doing all these to help me and I was very grateful to her.
--I’m glad for you. How does Yamada sensei instruct you?
S: Machiko sensei coaches me mainly in jumps. During her lesson instead of repetitions of one jump, I’m instructed to go through the entry into the jump before jumping in the short program. When I’m able to do that, I do the same type of jump after the entry setup in the free program, and from there I work on the choreo moves. The lesson helps me prepare for competition. When I mess up jumps, she calls me out, “Repeat until you can land the jump! [laughter] ” It is very tough, but her instruction method is different from Mihoko sensei and she also takes good care of me.
--You spent more than half a year training yourself. That’s why you are learning a lot from your coaches now?
S: That’s true. When we take a look at the video of my skate, they give me advice based on their assessment which is quite different from mine. Like that, they point out the issue which I’ve never noticed before, and if necessary they change choreography to work around it. Also, about jumps, I used to skip jump training sometimes when I was tired and worked on something else, but they tell me that I should train jumps everyday and I have the real feeling that I am not cutting corners in practice any more.
--I am looking forward to your performances this season. I would like to ask you about the new programs. How was “yesterday” in the short selected?
S: In the past I chose my music, but this time I felt I should leave it up to Mihoko sensei who would definitely come up with the good one for me, so I asked her for music selection. There were about five choices but all of them were so great that I wanted to use any one of them next season or after that. I even wanted to use all of them as they were so fascinating and I felt her sense of music was amazing. In the end she chose “Yesterday” and I was impressed by the story she told me when she made the decision.
--What did she say to you?
S: This song was created by Paul McCartney who had gone through a hard time after the loss of his mother when he was 14. He wrote the lyrics to express his feeling that he wanted to move forward. She said, “I want you to see yourself in the song and tell the story. This is the song in which you, Sota-kun, can express yourself, who is facing the challenges of skating after overcoming injuries and rehabilitation.”
--You express a lot of emotions in your performance.
S: Yes, in the first half of the program, I express myself feeling lost after a tragic incident. From there, I get back up and towards the end I do steps and moves that lead to the buildup. Since the program is built with the theme of “moving forward” I am very much emotionally involved and I identify myself with the character in the song when I show my performance.

- to be cont'd -
 

surimi

Good luck in the new season, Sota!
Record Breaker
Joined
Nov 12, 2013
Part 2

“Repeat until you can land the jump! [laughter] ” It is very tough, but her instruction method is different from Mihoko sensei and she also takes good care of me.
[...] Also, about jumps, I used to skip jump training sometimes when I was tired and worked on something else, but they tell me that I should train jumps everyday and I have the real feeling that I am not cutting corners in practice any more.

- to be cont'd -

Yikes... I hope they're being careful with Sota's ankles. These mindless drills fill me with anxiety. Shirking practice of certain elements is no good, but I really hope they give him a pass if one of his ankles starts hurting. Or at least, I hope Sota himself is by now wise enough to say so aloud, and that he's past the stage of 'oh, it's just a scratch' until it becomes a serious issue. One of the ways to OG is simply staying healthy...

I get what Sota says about Yesterday, but I still don't like this music for him, and don't feel him in it. The lyrics is okay, but the music and the voice are a mismatch. I sincerely hope Sota is just being polite and doesn't really mean what he says about Mihoko having produced more programs like this, and him wanting to skate to them all. This one is more than enough to give me a general idea. At this early stage, I would be as cheeky as to call it boring, unoriginal (Shoma-like poses) and forgettable. So yep, for me - not Sota at all.

But, last but not least, :thank: for the new excerpt!

********

I really, really want to see the JO videos. I want to know why Keiji beat Sota by almost 8 points - on PCS only, as the TES was the same. I know Keiji is capable of really selling his programs, and sometimes gets engaging choreo, so I won't judge the PE, CH, TR, IN yet. But at least the skating skills difference is a big fat joke. Keiji having that much better skills than Sota? In which universe? Oh, right, in the one where Keiji always skates well at Nats, has GP medals, and vocally admires the right idols. I hope the judges abroad are less biased. 😡

Sota did a good job today. 💐 He was a bit better in JO than in Chubu, which is commendable. (Last year his Japan Open was worse) Hopefully the return of the 4T is a sign of his left foot on the mend! I hope we get to see steps lv4 from Sota this season. I miss the lv4 steps from Jekyll&Hyde so much 😢
 

KiraraChin

Medalist
Joined
May 5, 2018
Sota did a good job at JO! We can safely say now that the jump consistency at Chubu wasn't really a one-off, he's definitely getting better at this. I hope, as Surimi said, it's not coming at the expense of drilling, because that would be dangerous for him :pray:

About 'Yesterday', I see where Mihoko-sensei is coming from in the sense that the original Beatles song is extremely beautiful (I'm a Beatlemaniac so please don't argue with me on this 😚). However, it's an introvert song, it's not really that suitable for skating IMO and not powerful enough for the Olympic season, not to mention the version they chose is very inferior to the original. So I agree with Surimi it's a mismatch and doesn't really highlight Sota's strengths and personality.

About PCS, I haven't watched the videos but one thing we should consider is that Mihoko-sensei's programmes are notoriously on the empty side, relying a lot on crossovers and less on choreo/transitions. That certainly helps their skaters to focus on the jumps, but it could leave them vulnerable on the PCS side without a lot of political backing. I remember that used to be one of the main criticisms Shoma got back in the day, in that he used to get very high PCS for relatively empty programmes. Unfortunately, Sota doesn't have (yet) the sort of rep Shoma has, so this could be an explanation for relatively low PCS - but again this is a trade-off when you consider more consistency on the jumps. Hope I made sense 😅
 

KiraraChin

Medalist
Joined
May 5, 2018
Full JO broadcast, Sota's free is at 39:30: https://vk.com/video-189142713_456239754

Having now watched the videos, my suspicion has been confirmed: It's not so much that Keiji has better SS than Sota, it's that at the moment Keiji's programme does a better job in showcasing his skills, with better composition and some really nice choreographic moments.

'Io Ci Sero' is a good music choice for Sota and I like the elegant costume, but the programme itself still feels fairly empty and IMO it lacks a really 'wow' moment choreo-wise. The CqSq, for example, is effectively a succession of spread eagles - Sota's spread eagle is beautiful but the sequence feels a bit 'meh' compared to, for example, Kazuki's La La Land Chsq. The steps are also not as sharp as they could be, perhaps because his team has been focusing on the jumps first.

Please note this is not a criticism of Sota! It's just interesting to see his new team's strategy, which has its advantages and disadvantages. I really hope that, once he has nailed down the jumps and built stamina, they will add more choreo so 'Io Ci Sero' can become a really stand-out Olympic season programme :pray:
 

surimi

Good luck in the new season, Sota!
Record Breaker
Joined
Nov 12, 2013
(I'm a Beatlemaniac so please don't argue with me on this 😚).

ahaha, believe it or not, so was I, in my early teen days! :biggrin: I still remember most of their songs by heart. But, I am torn on Yesterday as a song, Sota's skating aside. It's a genius song, I acknowledge that, yet on a purely personal level, I have always found the slow melancholic songs in Paul's voice a tad whiny (yeah, Blackbird, looking at you...), so hence part of my antipathy. IDK how it is for you, but for me- George's voice FTW ;) And I agree with you re. Yesterday and skating.

No offence taken re. Sota's choreo. I think (and I hope) they're trying to fix his confidence and jumps in the first place, and choreography comes second. So, having seen Keiji's FS, I think most of the PCS difference is fair. But the skating skills, I don't agree with.

Now, 4CC is in Tallin, and I doubt Shoma, Yuzuru and Yuma will be attending. Sota has already competed in Tallinn once, and was successful. Could it actually happen that Sota could skate so well in his new coaches' care, he'd earn a spot at 4CC, and follow up on his earlier Tallinn success? That would be so good...
 

rRainbow

On the Ice
Joined
Oct 22, 2018
Country
Japan
Part 3

―You said your desire to get choreographed by Higuchi sensei led you to join her team. What do you like about her works?
S: I had always thought all her creations were original and rich in ideas. I’m drawn by the programs by the skaters on Yamada sensei’s team. Each music piece is elaborately edited and I just want to keep listening to it. That’s what I felt since I started practicing at Chukyo.
―About the music for the free program, you announced in the Fan Meeting that it was “Io Ci Saro.” Who picked this music?
S: For the free program’s music, I made suggestions as I had several music pieces to choose from. In response, Higuchi sensei went over one by one and asked me why I liked it and why I picked it for consideration. Then, about “Io Ci Saro” I told her that I purely loved the music itself and the climax towards the end was my favorite part. She said, “I think it’s really great, too,” and we both agreed on it.
―This is the music Takahiko Kozuka-san skated to.
S: Yes, I watched him skate at the Nationals. It is his masterpiece. It was so great that I consider it one of the best figure skating performances of all time. Every time I watch it I’m impressed. I want to make the program my own as well. I want to showcase my unique skate which is different from Kozuka-kun’s.
--I hope to see many memorable choreographic moves.
S: Yes, her choreography was new and surprising to me. Because many of her choreographic moves have become my favorite parts, I really enjoyed doing her choreography. I get my faults pointed out a lot, though [laughter].
--For example?
S: I portray a character who has a girlfriend, and at the beginning, the vocal goes “Amore…” and I was supposed to make a gesture of holding her head and gently pulling it closer to mine. But I couldn’t do the move at all [laughter]. Mihoko sensei grabbed my head and showed me how to do that move, but I felt too embarrassed.... We spent 10-15 minutes on that part alone but I still couldn’t do it at all. Finally, she said, “Okay, then, do the gesture of biting into an apple,” and I was able to do it to her satisfaction on my first try. She laughed at me and said “Interesting!” [laughter]
--It's easier for you to get the picture with an apple.
S: At first, she said, “Visualize a woman’s face and you are pulling her head closer to yours with your arm,” but it was too hard for me. I felt embarrassed and I couldn’t help giggling [laughter]. Well, I want to work hard so that someday I can see a woman’s face instead of an apple.

- to be cont'd to the last part -
 

surimi

Good luck in the new season, Sota!
Record Breaker
Joined
Nov 12, 2013
Part 3


S: I portray a character who has a girlfriend, and at the beginning, the vocal goes “Amore…” and I was supposed to make a gesture of holding her head and gently pulling it closer to mine. But I couldn’t do the move at all [laughter]. Mihoko sensei grabbed my head and showed me how to do that move, but I felt too embarrassed.... We spent 10-15 minutes on that part alone but I still couldn’t do it at all. Finally, she said, “Okay, then, do the gesture of biting into an apple,” and I was able to do it to her satisfaction on my first try. She laughed at me and said “Interesting!” [laughter]
--It's easier for you to get the picture with an apple.
S: At first, she said, “Visualize a woman’s face and you are pulling her head closer to yours with your arm,” but it was too hard for me. I felt embarrassed and I couldn’t help giggling [laughter]. Well, I want to work hard so that someday I can see a woman’s face instead of an apple.

This cracks me up so much. :laugh: Higuchi sensei doesn't seem aware of the fact that Sota gets embarrassed even when he thanks his mum on Mothers' Day. :D Sota could quite credibly portray hugging a friend as he seems comfortable enough around boys, but he's super shy around women 👀 I think he'll eventually grow out of it... for the most part :biggrin:

Thank you @rRainbow , this part was super funny!
 

surimi

Good luck in the new season, Sota!
Record Breaker
Joined
Nov 12, 2013
A fellow Sota fan kindly let me know that his ISU Bio has been updated. :)
- His programs for the new season aren't there yet (Dark Eyes and Dragon are still featured)...
- ... but, his new height of 173 cm is. 💪
- His hometown is currently listed as 'Aichi' - Sota is being his usual private self. ;)
- His new coaching team is not just Mihoko Higuchi, Machiko Yamada and Yuko Hongo, but also Shota Higuchi, who I have been informed, is coach Mihoko's son. Does anyone know more of this young (I assume) man? I am curious. But then, Sota apparently loves working with men, and responded very well to the advice of Ryuju who is also very young (<- entirely my conjecture, based on my firm but unconfirmed belief that Sota's FS success at Kokutai was mostly his senpai's merit). So, it might just work!
 
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rRainbow

On the Ice
Joined
Oct 22, 2018
Country
Japan
Last Part:

--Your first outing of the season will be at the Chubu regionals. How are your jumps shaping up?
S: I am doing okay with the 4S. I'm adjusting the way I jump the 4T a little, and I am trying to raise its success rate. Before, I used to tighten the core with my upright upper body, but I was told that I should lean forward a little bit. It looks like Hanyu senshu jumps a 4T in a slightly forward-bent posture. I’m trying to tighten my body from the forward-bent posture when I jump.
--How are your jumps coming along?
S: It’s hard to change the way I jump right away. At times I end up jumping a quad my way, but my 3A is getting higher, so I hope I can adopt the new method gradually.
--What are your planned jump layouts this season?
S: For the past two seasons I had two quads in the SP and three in the FS and these were my ideal layouts. But sensei said, “This season we should go for the layouts which would help your jump consistency,” so I am planning to start out with one quad, a 3A and a triple-triple combo in the short. After that, if I make progress I want to change the layout to include two quads. I'll focus on what I can do moving forward.
--How about the FS layout?
S: For now, my planned layout is a 4S and a 4T with two 3A jumping passes.
--You are entering an overseas GPS event for the first time this season, what are your thoughts about Skate Canada?
S: In the past my GPS assignment was only to the NHK Trophy for three years in a row, so I was surprised to learn my assignment to Skate Canada. I am really happy that they picked me, and I will give it my all. Mihoko sensei told me that my first goal is skating well at Skate Canada. She has been counting down the months until Skate Canada, and I’m getting mentally prepared. I’d better get good results and earn points to move forward and I very much want to do well at Skate Canada.
--What do you think is your strength?
S: These days no matter how beautiful your performance is, you have to be consistent in landing jumps in your program in order to remain a top ranking skater. That said, I want to deliver a performance that touches viewers. Even if I fail my jumps, I would like to create a program which will remain in people’s hearts.
--What are the issues to work on, if any?
S: Stamina and jumps at the moment. I feel my skating skills, spins, and presentation skills are getting better little by little. I want to stabilize my jumps and increase stamina to help me endure hard training.

- The end -
 

surimi

Good luck in the new season, Sota!
Record Breaker
Joined
Nov 12, 2013
:thank: for your translations! I am glad that Sota's team have more than reasonable goals this season. Consistency is what he needs most right now. I am sure if he manages that, his PCS will rise as well.
 

surimi

Good luck in the new season, Sota!
Record Breaker
Joined
Nov 12, 2013
A short talkshow about Shoma and Sota (I think this 'Machiko and Kanako chat' is a regular talkshow?): https://youtu.be/-teZRq3emvU
It's just about 2 minutes long, and the latter part is about Sota. I guess Yamada is saying something along the lines of Sota being a good and polite boy?
 

rRainbow

On the Ice
Joined
Oct 22, 2018
Country
Japan
A short talkshow about Shoma and Sota (I think this 'Machiko and Kanako chat' is a regular talkshow?): https://youtu.be/-teZRq3emvU
Machiko and Kanako talkshow to be aired by Nagoya TV on Oct. 20 & 21 featuring Nagoya skaters. https://www.nagoyatv.com/sports_sp/entry-28569.html

Translation of Sota's part from 1:31.

K=Kanako Murakami; M=Machiko Yamada
1:31
K: How about Sota, what kind of skater is he?
M: As I thought, he is incredibly gifted.
K: Oh, I see.
M: When I saw him from afar, he was a boy, and he was doing this (slight bowing by tilting his head down) thing, so I thought he was a bit cocky.
K: Haha!
M: But he's so adorable once he joined us! (Hugging gesture, laughing)
K: You're really soft on boys, aren't you, Mihoko-sensei and Machiko-sensei?
M: I must say women are no good (laughs).
M: Men are so pure and innocent! And no matter what is told, he always says, "Yes, sensei! Yes." He is such a nice boy. And he works very hard.
(Sota’s Yesterday practice video in black jersey. Beginning and climax)

M: I'm very grateful and happy that he knocked on our door, so I'm hoping he'll blossom.
K: I'm really looking forward to watching this season's So-chan.
M: Let me tell you this. Sota is having so much fun. He says he's having a lot of fun.
K: Is there any change in your impression of him now that he is your student?
M: I love him even more now (laughs loudly). I've grown to like him even more. Yeah, he's a good boy. Everyone! He's a good boy, so please support him.
K: Your attitude is totally different! You were not like this when you coached Kana! (Laughs)
M: Hahahahahaha!
 
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