Ted Barton Sees Sakamoto, Uno Inspiring Whole New Generation | Golden Skate

News Ted Barton Sees Sakamoto, Uno Inspiring Whole New Generation

News

CrazyKittenLady

My cat jumps better Axels than me.
Record Breaker
Joined
Feb 2, 2019
Country
Austria
Found this recent interview with Ted Barton, the man who single-handedly brought us the JGP coverage, in Japanese media. I thought it might be interesting for other readers here as well.
Among other things, Barton speaks about the return of Japanese Juniors to the JGP, the revivals of Sakamoto and Uno, his impromptu gig as a commentator at Senior Worlds, the new age limit, and the doping scandal.

Personally, I'm looking forward to Ted's JGP coverage starting again in two months. Even though we might post snarky comments now and then in the competition threads when he trips over a particularly challenging skater's name, it's all in good fun, and in the end I greatly appreciate how supportive he is of the young skaters and that he finds something positive to say about every performance.

Announcer Ted Barton Sees Sakamoto, Uno Inspiring Whole New Generation​

July 2, 2022 by Jack Gallagher

The voice of the ISU’s Junior Grand Prix is looking forward to the expected return of Japanese skaters this season after they missed the last two campaigns due to the pandemic.
The seven-city JGP season will commence on Aug. 24 in Courchevel, France.

“We are thrilled to have the Japanese team back,” Ted Barton told Ice Time in an exclusive interview by phone from his home in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Sunday, June 26. “Hopefully, they are going to come. That is so exciting. Japan did so well at [senior] worlds. Sort of a revival in a way. Maybe they dipped a little bit, but now they are back.
“I’m sure the fans in Japan are excited about the new kids coming up,” he added.

Confidence and Charm

Barton spoke enthusiastically about the stellar performances by Kaori Sakamoto and Shoma Uno at the world championships in France in March.
“I remember seeing Kaori years ago, I don’t remember which year it was, and saying, ‘Oh, my god,’ ” Barton recalled. “But she had a hard time in juniors being consistent. She looked like the best skater on the ice, the fastest skater on the ice, the biggest jumper on the ice, so you would think, ‘No one can beat this girl, but she beat herself in a number of cases.’
“I wondered if she would settle down and gain confidence and be able to deliver under pressure,” Barton continued. “When I saw her at worlds, I couldn’t have been happier.
“I didn’t get to follow her senior career as much, because I am following the juniors more. I watch the seniors, but I don’t get to see every event. To see her come through brought me back to when I first saw her.”

Barton was especially impressed by the revival of Uno.
“Shoma has a charm on the ice like nobody else does. He is really interesting,” Barton commented. “But his technique got a little bit sloppy there for a while and he was missing elements. He was whipping his jumps and hammering them.
“It wasn’t working and he looked frustrated and he looked tired. It kind of looked like the end a little bit as it does with some skaters.”

Impressed by Uno’s Showing at Worlds

Barton believes Uno’s comeback can be an example for other skaters.
“When he became a reborn skater to many degrees, and however that happened with [coach] Stephane [Lambiel], whatever process they went through ― not from a technical perspective but from a mental perspective and from a rebirth of desire ― to see him skate like that at the worlds, I thought it was good for skaters to really watch these careers, because you are going to have your downs and you are going to have your ups.
“It depends on your ability to adapt to the downs and be persistent,” Barton added. “That is exactly what he showed. I thought it was absolutely spectacular.”

Barton made clear his respect for Japan and Japanese skaters.
“I was happy, because it has been tough for Japan,” Barton remarked. “They haven’t been able to compete in juniors and the Russians kids are coming up in skating and all the extra quads, and they were great. I am not going to be critical, because you saw what you saw. Who knows what went on in the background? Nobody knows.
“But for Japan to emerge at the world level, it will give the next generation of skaters, the juniors coming out this year, confidence and goals and heroes to follow,” Barton said. “I’m very excited to see what the Japanese skaters on the Junior Grand Prix will be like this season. I am sure we will see some new ones.”

Recalling Broadcasting Senior Worlds on Short Notice

With the world championships coming to Saitama this season, Ice Time inquired about whether Barton will be reprising his announcing role after stepping into a difficult situation at the March 2022 event.
Barton was called upon to take over in the middle of the event after the ISU suspended announcers Simon Reed and Nicky Slater following an incendiary comment about former Canadian pairs skater and two-time world champion Meagan Duhamel.

Barton described the surreal experience and how the opportunity unfolded.
“I was working in my office (in Vancouver) and somebody sent me a text about what was going on,” Barton remembered. “I continued working and got distracted, and then my phone started ringing from France. I started thinking it was some kind of a scam call.
“There were two or three of these from France and it was the same number,” Barton continued. “So I wondered what it was about. I finally picked it up and it was in French and they explained what had happened. Then they told me, ‘You have to get ready tonight!’
“So I worked all day and then I had to start the broadcast at 1 AM. I had to get somewhat prepared.”

Helping the ISU Pull It Off

Barton said he felt it was his duty to help the ISU through a turbulent time.
“I felt somewhat responsible to the ISU to try to stabilize whatever I could during that worlds and not make it about the announcers,” Barton commented. “Make it about the skating. I wasn’t as prepared to do it. They told me I had to speak during the performance, which I don’t like doing.
They said, ‘This is for broadcast,’ so I had to learn how to do enough of that to be OK and not be interfering. It was a new learning curve for me. I enjoyed it.”

Barton said he is not sure if he will be in Saitama in March 2023.
“I don’t know about this season. They are working on their teams,” Barton noted. “I think they are happy with what I did. They may see fit to use me at some point, and maybe not. I just want whoever does it to be accurate, honest and supportive.”

View on New Age Limit Rule

Ice Time wanted to know what Barton thought about the new age limit rule (a change from age 15 to 17) approved at the ISU Congress this month.
“I personally like it. In the beginning, when they first came out with it, I was not sure,” Barton noted. “I thought these young kids it is easier for them to do these difficult elements than it is when they are a little older, so why hold them back?
“But then I started thinking about the person first,” Barton stated.
“One, I think it is probably better from a physical and health perspective of the athletes. It doesn’t mean that the juniors won’t do quads and won’t be able to do it. They will have more time in the juniors ranks to develop their skating skills along with the technical skills and growth and maturity before they enter seniors.
“Their junior career will be longer. Let’s say it can be four years now. Right now, the junior career is 13-15 for your top kids. They are in for two [years] and then they are out. They are in seniors and who knows how long they stay.”

Barton feels a longer junior career will lead skaters to be more polished upon entering the senior ranks.

New Rule Invites a Different Type of Skater

“They could have a four-year junior career, which will be very interesting following them through those four years,” Barton stated. “It makes it much more interesting from a story perspective and better for the athletes’ development. Then as they enter seniors, they are more of a young adult. So we will see a different type of skater.
“When skaters are juniors, they usually have a slower artistic development,” Barton said. “Now we will see them emerge as an adult skater a little bit later.
“So I actually quite like it. I think it is good for the sport. I think it was the right move. They can always change it.”

Thoughts on Russian Ban, Doping Scandal

Our conversation then moved on to the topic of the suspension of Russian skaters and then investigation into doping after Kamila Valieva failed a test prior to the Beijing Olympics.

“It is a very complicated situation from a human perspective,” Barton stated. “It is horrific what is happening in Ukraine. It is horrific what the Russians have done. It wasn’t the football Russians or hockey Russians or figure skating Russians who did it, it was the government.
“So are all Russians guilty of it? No. But they will be guilty in everyone’s mind.”

Barton says he agrees with the ISU’s decision to sideline Russian skaters.
“There is enough combination between the drug scandal, which has never been settled yet, plus that (the war), that there needs to be a timeout.”
“They need to stop everything they are doing, and consider what they are doing, before they have the privilege to come back. I think it is not a bad thing for Russia to have a timeout.”

Barton acknowledged that the impact of the ban on Russian skaters will be difficult for them.
“It is terrible for the athletes that are clean and fair and honest,” Barton commented. “I don’t know who they all are. I’m sure they all have the right intent. I don’t think they are all bad people at all.
“Hopefully the world can get back to a peaceful stability, get back to real sport, get back to honest effort,” Barton added.

Barton thinks the focus should be on those who are following the rules.
“Let’s move forward with the kids that are doing the job,” Barton commented. “I think the world championships this year were so exciting. It’s the world that competes, not one country. It hasn’t been a bad thing to some degree.”

Strong Stance Against Abuse of Skaters

Ice Time asked about sanctions for those coaching Valieva if it is confirmed that she was using performance-enhancing drugs.
“Forget about Valieva, for any coach, if there was proof ― there has to be proof ― that it was known and intentional, then there needs to be consequences, because those are children,” Barton remarked. “They are not adults, and they are following adults.
“We have laws in my country and Japan. We have Safe Sport. It is abuse of a child.”

Speaking to Ice Time, Barton cited the organization in the United States tasked with ending abuse of athletes in all sports.
“There are many things that come under the classification of abuse of a child. When a child is trusting an adult and whether it is physical, psychological or sexual abuse, or in this case, drug abuse unknowingly, there needs to be consequences.
“Having said that, there needs to be an independent investigation to find out the actors in all of that. Because everybody will blame certain people, doctors, coaches, this or that.”

Barton is not confident the truth will emerge anytime soon.
“The easiest thing in life is to complain and throw your opinion and say it is this person or that person,” Barton said. “Just find out the truth, not based on our emotion. Find out the truth through an investigation. I hope that gets done. I don’t hold out any great hope that it will be done anytime soon. It should be.”

Broadcasting Russian Nationals

Barton has broadcast the English feed of the Russian nationals the past three years. Ice Time wanted to know Barton’s position on that assignment going forward.
“I wouldn’t do it. I don’t have the answers,” Barton stated. “All I know is that people are dying, both Ukrainians and Russians for unnecessary reasons. I feel bad for the athletes of Russia who are trying to do the best they can. The government has made a decision that has stopped their careers and changed the pathway in their life.
“I was trying to help sport around the world and within Russia,” Barton noted. “It was an honor to do so at the time, but it is only figure skating. When stuff like that happens, as it did, it is much bigger than the sport. … But the world needs to get sorted out before you can start anew with a positive future, and we are not even close to that.”
 

el henry

Fangirl of men’s spirals and split jumps
Record Breaker
Joined
Mar 3, 2014
Country
United-States
Ted Barton is always so thoughtful and kind in his commentary. He can't even pronounce Canadian skaters' names, I'm not bothered by that at all. :)

Great interview, who would have thought Ted would be in favor of the age limit being raised?

And now we know the answer to the last minute senior Worlds commentary question: Ted was *told* to talk during the skates. :biggrin:
 

Amei

Record Breaker
Joined
Nov 11, 2013
Ted Barton is always so thoughtful and kind in his commentary. He can't even pronounce Canadian skaters' names, I'm not bothered by that at all. :)

Great interview, who would have thought Ted would be in favor of the age limit being raised?

And now we know the answer to the last minute senior Worlds commentary question: Ted was *told* to talk during the skates. :biggrin:

Um, to me it would be more surprising if he was against it, his baby is the Junior Grand Prix, which might just be getting a huge boost because the really good skaters aren't going to only be on the circuit for 2 years before they turn senior they are probably going to be on the circuit 4-5 years.
 

el henry

Fangirl of men’s spirals and split jumps
Record Breaker
Joined
Mar 3, 2014
Country
United-States
Um, to me it would be more surprising if he was against it, his baby is the Junior Grand Prix, which might just be getting a huge boost because the really good skaters aren't going to only be on the circuit for 2 years before they turn senior they are probably going to be on the circuit 4-5 years.

Yes, you are right that he has always loved the juniors for who they are and what they are. Maybe I was more surprised with the reasons that he gave in the article (it doesn't hurt that I agree with him. ;),) good for the sport, not just Ted Barton watching juniors:

“They could have a four-year junior career, which will be very interesting following them through those four years,” Barton stated. “It makes it much more interesting from a story perspective and better for the athletes’ development. Then as they enter seniors, they are more of a young adult. So we will see a different type of skater.
....
“So I actually quite like it. I think it is good for the sport. I think it was the right move. They can always change it.”
 

slider11

Medalist
Joined
Jan 12, 2014
I always find it interesting to listen to Ted. His commentary makes you watch the skater, reflect on their performance and then he injects his thoughts. Each time I hear him say something that I might have missed or not understood the intent. And he keeps it factual, interesting and insightful in a positive way. I look forward to more of Ted Barton!
 

Amei

Record Breaker
Joined
Nov 11, 2013
Ted Barton is always so thoughtful and kind in his commentary. He can't even pronounce Canadian skaters' names, I'm not bothered by that at all. :)

I think most people don't take issue with it because he literally appears to struggle with pronouncing any and all types of names, and I think it was at 1 of the Russian competitions he was butchering names right and left and openly apologized on air for it.

And now we know the answer to the last minute senior Worlds commentary question: Ted was *told* to talk during the skates. :biggrin:

Does whoever told him to do that not realize that 1 of the reasons why so many people love Ted is because he lets the performance happen and then he commentates?
 
Last edited:

lariko

Medalist
Joined
Jan 31, 2019
Country
Canada
Found this recent interview with Ted Barton, the man who single-handedly brought us the JGP coverage, in Japanese media. I thought it might be interesting for other readers here as well.
Among other things, Barton speaks about the return of Japanese Juniors to the JGP, the revivals of Sakamoto and Uno, his impromptu gig as a commentator at Senior Worlds, the new age limit, and the doping scandal.

Personally, I'm looking forward to Ted's JGP coverage starting again in two months. Even though we might post snarky comments now and then in the competition threads when he trips over a particularly challenging skater's name, it's all in good fun, and in the end I greatly appreciate how supportive he is of the young skaters and that he finds something positive to say about every performance.
Omg, I can’t wait to have Ted back in my life.
 

NanaPat

Record Breaker
Joined
Oct 25, 2014
Country
Canada
If I recall correctly, Ted once explained why he doesn't talk during the skates on the JGP streams. Basically, he wants the video to be a permanent record of their performance FOR THE SKATER. He doesn't want to intrude on that permanent record. So he is doing it for the sake of the skaters themselves, not so much for the sake of the casual audience.

I agree with his reasoning. And as part of the audience, I appreciate that we get commentary, but not during the performance itself.
 

lariko

Medalist
Joined
Jan 31, 2019
Country
Canada
If I recall correctly, Ted once explained why he doesn't talk during the skates on the JGP streams. Basically, he wants the video to be a permanent record of their performance FOR THE SKATER. He doesn't want to intrude on that permanent record. So he is doing it for the sake of the skaters themselves, not so much for the sake of the casual audience.

I agree with his reasoning. And as part of the audience, I appreciate that we get commentary, but not during the performance itself.
As an audience, I love that Ted adds value specifically where it’s needed, during the down-time. Since I often watch JGP life, most of the events at like 3 or 4 am, it makes all the difference! And his interviews and interacting with fans emails and questions during the ice cleaning times is how you do it, period! It’s so easy to feel included in the JGP because of his style.
 

dorispulaski

Wicked Yankee Girl
Joined
Jul 26, 2003
Country
United-States
Ted's right- one joy of having skaters on the JGP longer is that the archival YouTube footage of their performances will be preserved, rather than deleted by the claims of other broadcasters. We will continue to be able to enjoy them.

I can't wait for the JGP to start :love:

His answer on the plight of the Russian skaters was both kind and fair. I like that he referred to a "timeout" rather than a "ban" of Russian skaters from competition and that he reminded everyone that many Russian skaters did not violate drug rules.

Go Ted!!!
 

BlissfulSynergy

Record Breaker
Joined
Sep 1, 2020
Country
Olympics
If the age-limit raising is a boost to JGP, that's a good thing.

I enjoy Ted's commentary very much. His passion is evident and he's generally fair. He's not always well-versed re skaters' circumstances and backgrounds, but that's difficult to achieve 100 percent.

At the recent junior Worlds in pairs, I was surprised Ted failed to discuss Smirnova/ Siianytsia's woes in respect to the fact they are Ukrainians representing the U.S. They were suffering emotionally and physically. So, dropping to fourth after the fp had something to do with hampered fitness and injuries (training time affected by C O V I D), in addition to psychological and emotional stress. Under those circumstances, they still performed well enough for fourth place. They wouldn't have lost the bronze position had they been in normal shape.

Japanese figure skating athletes have been exciting, inspirational, and influential for a long time. This article appears to be more of a current promotional p.r. piece with some nice thoughts, personal memories, and overall cheerleading by Ted to hopefully jumpstart Japan being able to fully participate in the coming season. Good observations regarding Sakamoto and Uno, for sure. They could just as easily also mentioned on the men's side, Yuma K. and K. Tomono too; and as well, Wakaba Higuchi, Mihara, and Kihira on the women's side.
 

BlissfulSynergy

Record Breaker
Joined
Sep 1, 2020
Country
Olympics
His answer on the plight of the Russian skaters was both kind and fair. I like that he referred to a "timeout" rather than a "ban" of Russian skaters from competition and that he reminded everyone that many Russian skaters did not violate drug rules.
Before though, nothing of an aggressive nature was being done to dissuade Rusfed's government-involved doping practices. Nothing but slaps on the wrist by ISU and IOC. That's what unfortunately led to the Olympics disaster. Ted makes a fair point regarding a 'timeout' as opposed to a ban against Russian athletes. But essentially, what's happening is a timeout, the duration of which is as yet undetermined. So, unless Ted specifies what he sees as a 'timeout,' it's all just semantics.

There are no easy answers. Of course, not all Russian skaters are involved in drug-taking, but the government is very tied to Rusfed operations. The reason for the current ban is ironically not b/c of doping, but because of the war against Ukraine, which Russian skaters have even less/ nothing to do with. But sport, culture, and humanity suffer when sanctions are imposed. And sanctions are necessary.
 
Top