Home Figure Skating News Mihoko Higuchi’s Journey with LYS Skate Club

Mihoko Higuchi’s Journey with LYS Skate Club

'Let Yourself Shine'

by Chloé Di Sanzio
Chloé di Sanzio

LYS Skate Club

Two years ago, renowned figure skating coach Mihoko Higuchi embarked on a new adventure. She parted ways with her long-standing team to open her own skating club, LYS Skate Club, finally making her childhood dream come true. LYS is an acronym for “Let Yourself Shine.” As head coach, she is supported by her son, Shota Higuchi, who serves as a physical trainer at the rink. Higuchi has served as both coach and choreographer for over 35 years training many top skaters and solidifying her legacy in the sport.

Despite being relatively new with a small number of students, the LYS Skate Club quickly gained recognition. Last season, one of its youngest talents, Rena Uezono, achieved remarkable success by winning the bronze medal at both the 2023-24 Junior Grand Prix Final and the 2024 Junior World Championships. This accomplishment is particularly impressive as Rena was only 13 years old.

Last week, we had the opportunity to visit the skating facility and speak with the coach and her son, who kindly welcomed us and introduced us to the LYS Skate Club.

Mihoko Higuchi and Shota Higuchi of the LYS Skate Club in Nagoya, Japan.

Mihoko Higuchi and Shota Higuchi of the LYS Skate Club in Nagoya, Japan.

LYS beginnings

Mihoko Higuchi founded the LYS Skate Club in 2022 in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan. This initiative marked a significant step in her career as she established herself as an independent coach. Her son, Shota, followed his mother to take on this new challenge.

“This is the third year of our club since I became independent,” said Mihoko Higuchi.

“We decided to become independent at the previous club,” added Shota Higuchi. “Instead of it just being my mother, I decided to join as well. Together, my mother and I started this club, and it has now been around two years since then.”

The LYS Skate Club is located in Moricoro Park which was built alongside the Expo 2005 Aichi Commemorative Park. The facility is equipped with a small cafeteria, a free rest area with snacks, a seating area, and a free-seating spectator area on the second floor. The interior includes the main rink with one sub-rink attached to it for laps, where students train.

The vision

Driven by a long-cherished passion for the sport and children, Mihoko Higuchi founded the LYS Skate Club with the vision of providing a complete education in figure skating to young children and supporting them as they grow.

“I have always truly had this desire to teach children from a young age and help them develop,” Mikoho Higuchi shared. “I want to offer my students a comprehensive teaching in figure skating, covering both physical and mental coaching aspects, right from the start.”

“When the skaters are little and as they grow up towards puberty and onward, I want to spend time with them,” she added. “I want to prepare and train them to become athletes. It all started with a desire to teach children. While it is a little different from founding a club, my favorite part is that I genuinely enjoy whenever I get to share a wonderful moment with our athletes!”

At the club, Mihoko Higuchi teaches children of all ages the basics of figure skating, from crossovers to triple jumps. Shota Higuchi is in charge of the warmup and conditioning of the skaters, as well as assisting his mother with the management of the club. The skating rink is open all year round, and the atmosphere is one not only of calm but also of laughter.

“The environment at the club is nice,” shared Shota Higuchi. “Our athletes are all serious, respectful, and very hard-working. In addition, they are all uniquely different. When it comes to training or practice time, all the skaters are focused, but they are cheerful, and all get along well with each other off-ice. Therefore, I think the mood here is great!”

Philosophy and mission

However, what perhaps distinguishes the LYS Skate Club from other clubs is its vision and approach when it comes to skating. In fact, the club’s philosophy extends beyond competitive success. With their motto “Shine in your own way,” they strive to create a place where unique individuals can come together and reach their full potential.

“At LYS Skate Club, we believe that while getting good results in competitions is important, we want to nurture athletes who are able to blossom as human beings too,” explained Mihoko Higuchi. “Our club’s mission is to train athletes who can thrive as individuals and spread their wings across the world. I believe that we are a club that allows each and everyone to shine in their own way.”

It seems it is not just the skaters who are growing, but the coaches too. By nurturing athletes to harness their unique talents and achieve their goals, coaches find immense fulfillment in witnessing their growth and success.

“In order to become a good coach, I believe that first of all, it is important to keep studying and growing oneself, as well as understanding each athlete,” shared Shota Higuchi. “To develop athletes who can succeed in the world and let them shine through their individual strength. I am very happy whenever I get to see our athletes grow, it feels rewarding. Each person has a different goal, but I feel happy when each athlete achieves their own goals.”

Training approach

The club, wanting to focus on both on and off-ice training, has all skaters start with an outside 30-minute off-ice warm-up session supervised by Shota Higuchi before an on-ice session. The club’s approach ensures that its athletes are not only technically proficient but also physically conditioned and mentally prepared at each practice.

As the skaters take on the ice and begin their session with long crossovers, the first notes of the Japanese version of Boléro begin to play inside the rink. The skaters then carefully start warming up their jumps.

The on-ice training lasts approximately two hours and thirty minutes, with each skater performing the run-through of their program twice. Mihoko Higuchi and Shota Higuchi, as well as well as other instructors, stand closely by the boards to provide instruction and advice. As the Zamboni circles around the ice, the skaters have time to cool down before taking off their skates and going back to their parents who await them at the end of the lesson.

Concluding with a smile, Mihoko Higuchi reflected, “I started coaching because I loved figure skating and children, and I have been doing this (coaching) for over 35 years or so, now. Regarding career aspirations, I have not set any particular goal for LYS Skate Club as of yet. If I fail, I will think about it when it happens, but I want to go as far as I can in my career.”

As the LYS Skate Club continues to grow, it is poised to make a lasting impact in the world of figure skating with the combined expertise and passion of both Higuchis and their students’ hard work.

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