Original: Tamura Akiko Number No. 848
Chinese Translations: @Shigana_新旅程
In all honesty, not a single skater managed to skate cleanly in the free skate. I think that it was because the short program and the free skate were only two days away that it resulted to this. After the short program and all of the interviews that took place were finished, by the time the competitors got back to Olympic village, it was already quite late. The next day, they had to wake up very early in the morning for a public practice. With such a busy schedule, anybody would be tired, even athletes who have trained to be part of the Olympics. This problem definitely needs to be looked into some more in the future to ensure an Olympic worthy performance can take place.
In the situation where your condition and the environment don’t lean towards your advantage, all you can do is trust that your training will help you. Yuzuru trains very hard every day, and even if he’s at his breaking point, he’ll still go and jump triples. In addition to that, when he gets off the ice he’ll still be doing the same. This form of training has definitely helped him a lot —especially during the free skate at the Olympics.
It was a shame that he wasn’t able to skate a clean, flawless, and mesmerizing free skate, but I don’t think there is another athlete that can withstand all the pressure and expectation that was put on him and still skate on the Olympic stage. Patrick Chan, Javier Fernandez, and Denis Ten did not have to pass through such a rigorous elimination process to secure a spot on the country’s Olympic team.
This season, the competition that startled me the most was definitely Skate Canada back in October. Compared to how he usually trains, watching Yuzuru’s performance was like watching something in slow motion. At that time, he had probably felt the pressure of the Olympic Games. To become a Japanese Olympics representative is not easy, so from this competition, to the Trophee Eric Bompard, to the Grand Prix Finals in Fukuoka, and to nationals, he had slowly improved his own condition.
As a Canadian myself, I was quite sad that Yuzuru had beaten Patrick Chan for the gold. However, alongside his other coach Brian Orser, and his choreographer David Wilson, we all have to place our identity as an athlete before our nationality. The Cricket Club has state of the art facilities in order to accommodate all of the world’s top skaters that train there. For us three to band together, it was because when Yuna Kim came here to train, there was also another national champion training here at the time: Joannie Rochette. Despite any discrimination sparked by the difference in culture and nationality from everyone else, we only cared about evolving in the world of figure skating.
I remember when I first met Yuzuru, he would always go headfirst into all the challenging elements (laughs). His actions don’t go through any form of thought process, and are done with blind belief and hope, which I don’t think is a bad thing. When I acted as a commentator at Worlds 2012, I had said that “When Yuzuru is on, his jumps are sensational, and when he’s off, his falls are spectacular.” In addition to retaining that magical aspect of his skating, I had also taught him how to control his strength and energy. He has plenty of areas where he depletes large amounts of energy, so I had him skate along to the beat of the music to save up all the energy that he possibly can when performing and competing. During Sochi, he had probably demonstrated this kind of training.
When he first came and couldn’t understand much English, he would always reply to us with a “Yes”. At first, we thought he had fully understood what we wanted to do, until one day I said to him, “That’s enough for jumping. Let’s move on to the step sequence.” He had replied to me with an “OK”, but immediately went and started jumping again. Brian and I exchanged glances and then finally understood that he was only able to comprehend half of what we’ve been saying this entire time (laughs).
This season, he carried around the mindset of “For the Olympics, I’ll learn anything”. When he’s tired and he’s saying “I’m tired”, he’ll still continue to jump.
His determination has fueled him to accomplish all of his set goals. His English has improved a lot, and after listening to our suggestions, will take a while to digest and confirm for himself that he knows what we are saying. He is an intelligent person who is able to keep a clear head and fuel himself with his on self-motivation. He is a model student in every right.
His greatest strength is his ability to weave together his movements with his emotions. For example, when you see his triple axel, you can also feel that he takes off on the jump fully believing that he will land it, as if he enters the jump without any hesitation whatsoever. I think that this is the most enticing part of figure skating. When performing, it’s as if somebody else is inside him controlling his body, but when the performance ends, he’ll revert back to the lovable nineteen year old that he is (laughs).
He is still an incomplete athlete, as he still has so much more to grow. I will teach him all of the skating skills to lay down a solid foundation, in addition to going into the smallest of details, such as how he rotates his wrists in order to improve the entire program altogether. In terms of his artistic skills, he has much more to learn in order to express his emotions and interpretation even more. He has an immense amount of talent, and as long as he’s directed towards the right direction, there’s no saying what he can do. When all of this has been accomplished, he’ll definitely become a skater that seems to be out of this world.
Towards his own talent, he is very thankful and treasures it greatly. Other athletes don’t know how to improve on their own talent, but Yuzuru’s own initiative and self-awareness, combined with his desire to improve, is definitely what sets him apart from the rest.
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