Men’s single skater Yuzuru Hanyu (ANA) gave an online interview before his exhibition appearance. After his last competition of the season, he spoke for about 10 minutes and answered each question as follows.
―What did you gain/learn this season? And what do you still need to work on now that the season is over?
Yuzuru: Hmm… this might become a little abstract. Well, the first time I came in third place at the World Championships was just about nine years ago now. Once again, I was thinking the same kind of things I thought at the time, as it is the 10 year anniversary of 3.11 now. The reason for this is that this time, there were things like the period of self-isolation [because of the pandemic], and also I withdrew from competitions. While I was doing those things, and watching the news, I felt how bad the COVID situation is, and I spent the time wondering about various things like, how we are supposed to confront it, and how people are each suffering in different ways during this time. Somehow, from there… Hmm. I still think the best way to deal with it is to have zero cases if possible, after all. But, (since that’s not possible), we have to keep going, and we have to face and deal with many things. In a way, for me, it’s not about my 4A, but that I feel I need to challenge myself and that I need to put together the best plan of action. Ah, my answer is becoming a little hard to follow. Let me see… In this context, I think about when I was coming up with my own comments on the 10th anniversary of 3.11. How painful was it? What kind of pain was it? Or, how many really want to remember it? Surely there are those who don’t want to be reminded of it, and I was thinking about all these various things. And I thought to myself, “Isn’t this the same as the current situation with COVID?,” and so ultimately, I came to a conclusion, in the season that 3.11 happened, and the season after it as well. I was much, much younger at the time. I didn’t want to be a representative of the disaster-stricken area, and I didn’t want to be labelled as such because I was a member of the Japanese national team, and I had won the spot with my own abilities. I was thinking strongly then, that I wanted to win various things on my own. But in the end, I began to feel a great sense of gratitude, and I realized that I was the one who was being supported by the people, and that I was not in a position to support them, but rather they were supporting me. I was able to feel those things again this time. Somehow…hm. This became a bit of a rambling answer. As a result of everything, I felt that maybe it’s okay for me to keep skating. If I can find some kind of meaning in my skating, I think that’s a sign that it’s okay for me to exist.
―What was the significance of practising your 4A in practice and your response?
Yuzuru: I totally didn’t expect the audience to be there. After the Free Skate, there was the fact my body wasn’t that tired. I thought maybe it would be worthwhile to do it at the competition venue. The other reason is that I think I’ll be going back to training alone and I think it’s easier to get a better mental picture jumping it when you’re motivated by the presence of other really talented athletes. But when I actually tried it, the jump was nowhere near my best attempts so I’m really frustrated. I have better ones, really! Truthfully I think I’m closer [that that]. But um, to tell you the truth I’m really really frustrated because I couldn’t do a good jump. So using that frustration as a springboard, though it looks like it’ll be a tough period ahead, I’ll really make intense preparations and analyse various things with a cooler head, and I want to keep pushing past my limits.
―During yesterday’s practice, when you two-footed the double Axel landing, you said, ‘That’s good.’
Y: From the beginning yesterday, my jumps didn’t [feel as] light. The rotations were totally insufficient and I kept jumping 4As that felt off to me. When I popped it into a double Axel at the end, I thought I was finally starting to get a feel of the ice. Finally I was getting the height so I told myself, ‘now rotate it’. After all, if it gets too high, your body instinctively tries to protect itself. It’s also a jump where it’s indeed difficult to balance both the height and rotation, so that comment I made was tied to that [fact] as well.
―Next season, your Free Skate Program will be ‘Ten to Chi to,’ but will you return to a piano piece for your Short Program?
Y: Ummm. To tell you the truth, I’m thinking about it. It’s not just about wanting to go back to a piano piece. I think this program [Let Me Entertain You] was created because of the current situation. You could say it was created precisely because I wanted to do this kind of program that suited the current circumstances. I have to consider how the circumstances will pan out and also how my own feelings will change with it. Also, beyond just doing the skating, I think I’ll pick the program thinking about what I want to express.
―The 4A is hard on your body, so how will you take care of it while you can’t go to Canada?
Yuzuru: Well, for the time being, I am thoroughly taking care of it myself. And there are a lot of people who can help me as well. There is also a lot of information available on the Internet. I’d like to take care of myself to the best of my ability by accumulating various kinds of knowledge.
Y: We’ll only know next season when next season comes. [Seems to be distracted by something else]. Just, um… hehe…. Sorry. We’ll only know about next season when it comes, so there’s nothing I can do about it. Um, well…. Hmmm… hehehe, I can’t. I got a little distracted, for a moment. Hmmm. I’ll think about [next season] when it’s time. I’m sorry!
―At that time, we would like to have the opportunity to speak with you again.
Y: Hehehe… But yes, I will. When I’m asked for comments again, I’ll try my best to come up with different words from my head. That’s something…. Well, I’m not a professional with words and I’d rather express myself with skating, so I hope I can find a way to do that.
―You said you go back and forth between the ice rink and the home, but how do you spend your time at home?
Y: Let’s see. Well… When I’m at home… (first thing) is waking up. Hehehe… I wake up in the morning, um, and then immediately clean*. Then, until food is ready, I’ll do things like image training, checking my form, and so on. After eating, I do some care for my body. I go to practice, come home, take a bath, do some care, eat, then sleep… that’s the kind of schedule I have.
Y: Ah, I do play video games. I’m addicted to Monster Hunter right now. (The one that just came out?) Yes. Yes, I’m playing it. Thank you very much. I was able to say something a little like [what you’d find] in a sports magazine. Hehehe.
Thank you very much. and I look forward to working with you again. I’ll do my best.
―You said your inner balance fell apart in the free, but there were also reports that your asthma flared up?
Yuzuru: I think I felt the asthma attack itself a little bit after the free skate. But, after it ended, I thought it was a bit painful, but well, I wasn’t late to coming to the rink for that reason in particular. It’s rather, there were a few small troubles that kept stacking up. Well, in the 6 minute warm-up, I didn’t feel any effects from that, but ultimately, I think all those small things ended up making everything fall apart. In my mind, I’m certain of the cause. Having said that, if asked whether that was what led to that huge mistake [in the free program], I don’t think it was as big of a miss as it was in terms of the miss in the score. It’s just within myself, one by one, little by little, everything started to come apart. That’s why, even more so than things like the placements and scores was the feeling within myself that I had properly completed the program.
— What are your feelings aiming towards the Beijing Olympics?
Y: Mmm. It’s not anything like whether or not I want to quit competing but it’s a bit like I’ll never be satisfied for my whole life if I don’t jump the 4A hehehe. Of course, there are days where, for a period, I’ll be thinking things about my age and the fact my physical fitness is diminishing, but right now, I’m proceeding with the feeling that I’m not done yet, that there are still ways I can grow and evolve. Of course, it’s easy to compare absolute results and well, in my instance, my previous glories or achievements. If you compare with my past accomplishments and ask whether I’m still holding onto them, that might be difficult to answer. However, there is no doubt I have improved and become better, definitely more than at the Pyeongchang Olympics  and at the Helsinki World Championships . So I don’t feel like I’ve hit my limit yet. Rather, it’s a question of how I overcome moments in which I may feel like this is my limit. Well, from here on there’s the World Team Trophy though I’m saying this while the World Team Trophy isn’t on my mind right now. I’ve decided that I’ll be practising the 4A in the off season. And while practicing for the 4A, there will be questions like how to overcome the times where I feel like I can’t jump it or when I’m hitting a wall, how to give myself the morale boost to keep going. Right now, I feel like I must think about those things, and leverage the knowledge and experience I currently have in order to prevail.
Yuzuru: Um, yesterday, after the competition ended I returned with Brian and after that I got some emails too. Well, there’s various things we can try. However, none of that is definitive. But, well, Brian and the others are looking forward to teaching me at the Cricket Club any time, and told me that they’d like to skate together with me again soon. However, things are still uncertain within my thoughts and I can’t decisively say I will return to Canada. After all, this season, I learned quite a lot from training by myself. I think it’s precisely because I trained alone that I was able to learn those things, and also I’m at a stage where I’m doing quite a lot of the quad Axel-related practice on my own, and I’ve learned various things in doing that. So, um, yes, for example, when training with other people, if I try to work on the quad Axel, there might be times where there are others in the trajectory of the jump, and it would distract me. Also, things like the condition of the ice. Those kinds of things, I don’t have to worry about when I train on my own. I can really concentrate on the jumps. Also, practicing along with the music is something unique about figure skating. There’s an order to that [in group settings], and a priority order in which the music tracks are played. For instance, there’s a rule that those who have a competition coming up can practice quite a bit [with the music], but those who don’t have a competition coming up yet cannot. I’ve been practicing now without all of that, and it’s really flexible in that I can practice what I want to, and according to a training plan I come up with. I think it’s a question of how to take that into account. Something also [to consider] is the condition of my body. Without a doubt, since coming back here, or rather, ever since I’ve returned to Japan which is indeed quite a long period of time, I haven’t visited the doctor* who helps me with [off-ice] care back in Toronto. I think, for sure, I am starting to wear out. And since I’m working on the quad Axel, I’m putting quite a lot of strain in various places, like my feet, legs, neck, etc. So I think I’ll have to weigh this up while thinking about my decision as well, so that’s why it’s difficult to say right now whether I’ll go back [to Canada], or stay in Japan.
*T/N: Unclear what kind of doctor, or possibly physio, etc.
Y: I didn’t have any feelings in particular, to be honest. Um… of course, I think [Nathan] Chen is amazing and to be able to complete a program with all 5 highly difficult quads with that quality is no ordinary feat. I think these are the fruits of his hard work. However this time, the main thing I was feeling was preventing infection and―including the two weeks of quarantine we have to do when we return― about finishing the World Championships in good health. In any case, the situation in my hometown is not good so I have a strong desire to both not spread infection myself and not be infected. Precisely because that was my number one goal this time, in my mind, it wasn’t something as simple as going up against Nathan, and I didn’t really have something like any straightforward strategy. It was more like… how do I put it, more than a competition against myself, there was an element of fighting the coronavirus this time. I’m not really concerned about it. More anything else, the number one thing I’m happy and relieved about is securing the 3 [Olympic] spots for Japan. Because I’m the Japanese National Champion, I had a strong sense of duty to fight for the Olympic spots, and it was a strong reason for competing here. The big thing was that I properly contributed to securing 3 spots for Japanese Men. I haven’t really thought about anything else.
―You said you’ll think about the Beijing Olympics in the course of pursuing the quad Axel, but, in other words, if you land the (quad) Axel, are you going to retire?
Y: Hahaha. Asking so bluntly! Ahh, I don’t know. Well, even if I talk about when I land the (quad) Axel, it’ll depend on how that happens. Whether I myself am satisfied with it or not. The fact I’m working on the quad Axel with so much effort, with so much focus, and making it my goal, is also in the end, I think, based on whether I can be satisfied within my own heart or not. So, if I’ll be satisfied with having jumped it, perhaps I’ll think about it. However, as I said during the earlier interview as well, this Yuzuru Hanyu is, without a doubt, still improving. Hehe. Indeed getting better. For instance, if you compare my [current] elements to that of Helsinki Worlds, certainly, there was one jump less. And in the second half [of the program], instead of a [quad] Salchow, it was a [quad] Toe Loop. I think the probability of skating a clean program, or something like the strength to not fall apart, are better than they were then. Also, I’ve become able to aim [for these kinds of programs], whereas that time [in Helsinki] it was by chance; I felt like I had been able to get into the “zone”. Now, I’ve become able to aim for this, and I think I’m really improving in that regard, actually. Of course, there are times I can’t put out a [good] result and it’s difficult. Regarding my performances this time, yes, there were jumps that didn’t get [good] scores, and I think the performance didn’t either. But beyond scores, these were performances where I felt that ah, the training I did wasn’t wrong. That’s why, for me, there’s not really the feeling that I should quit because I’ve reached my limits or anything.
Y: I said this in Fuji TV’s interview earlier but in any case, this is just in my mind but I do want to put the 4A in ‘Ten to Chi to’. Well, I created this program with that desire. Therefore – though I haven’t completely decided yet – I feel that I want to skate ‘Ten to Chi to’. After all, I’ve barely had any competitions this season. I want to show more of the good parts of this program. And I think once the 4A is added, its impression will completely change. It’s for those reasons, I want to perfect this little one.*
*T/N: Yuzu is metaphorically referring to ‘Ten to Chi to’ as though it’s a child.
―How often are you jumping the 4A in a day? How much of it can you do?
Y: Um, if I can just rotate about ⅛ more, I can get it, without doubt. I can land it. So until I can get there, I have been pushing my body and there have been points of pain that are appearing little by little. The damage is definitely accumulating. And then you asked how long I was training it? Let’s see…but… there was a question before [in a past interview] about when I decided to abandon plans for the quad Axel in this competition, and I said three days. Truthfully, I had thought to myself that the limit was that I had to land it by the end of February or I couldn’t put it in. If I landed it by February, I decided I would add it; if I landed even just one, I decided I would put it in the program. But, I couldn’t land it by the end of February, and so I extended the deadline until now. Around that time, I was indeed working like hell. I didn’t jump any of the other jumps, just the Axel. For two hours on end. Of course, I wasn’t jumping the 4A the entire time, but there were indeed quite a few two hour sessions where I only jumped Axels. I think on average about 45 minutes. Thank you very much. It’s been a tough day for everyone. Thank you. I ask for your support again.
―Could you please offer some thoughts on your free program performance?
Yuzuru: Ah, well, I kind of wasn’t able to get into the flow of things. However, um, as a whole it didn’t go well, but, um, I wasn’t able to get what I wanted the most at all, which was a (high) GOE. However, throughout the whole thing, I was able to manage everything as smaller mistakes, and I think maybe my ability to do that has improved.
―So this season has been truly an unusual one, and we think you must have had a hard time continuing to compete while on your own. The competition this time was also held with no audience present, so it’s different from usual competitions. What kind of World Championship is it for you?
Y: Well, to be honest, I’m frustrated but, um, I think it was a competition where I learned a lot, and really, I’d like to get back to skating right away, but… I think if there is a next opportunity, I want to properly focus on doing a good performance then.
―We are looking forward to then. So, this season there were very few competitions, but there are fans who are hoping there will be more competitions next season if the world situation gets better, and there are also many fans who are eagerly anticipating the quad Axel. So, if you could speak about your vision heading into next season, as much as you can.
Y: Well, heading to this competition, I intended to practice the quad Axel quite a lot. Well, it’s not like I landed it, but it’s at the point where there’s been a lot of instances where it’s finally become quite a “quad Axel-like” jump, so, heading into next season, I’d like to properly practice that. And also… um, working on the quad Axel means you have to really overwork your body and whatnot, so I hope I can continue to evolve while properly taking care of myself so as not to get injured.
What are your thoughts, looking back on your performance?
Well… um, I was very tired. It was really like my balance was crumbling piece by piece. I did what I could to prevent myself from falling but well, one by one, uncharacteristic jumps kept continuing so it really was hard.
Hm, for now we don’t know what will happen at the next competition but, um, if there is time to do so I’d like to quickly practice my quad Axel – firstly land it, increase its degree of perfection and get it ready for competition – that’s my goal for now.
Were [the mistakes] on the 3A today influenced by 4A training? Your opening 4Lo was also off balance
Yes, the overall feeling wasn’t bad. There wasn’t really a trend or pattern like this in practice but well… it felt like there was an instance where the balance within me collapsed all of a sudden. In terms of the Axel, there is the factor of the quad Axel there but mm, more than that it was more like what I just said about being in a state where that balance was crumbling very quickly. Um… you could say it was my own sense of equilibrium or balance; it felt like I wasn’t able to grasp the axis of the jumps properly the entire time. However, I don’t think this is a huge problem, it was just feeling out of balance bit by bit so, well, I think I was able to do the things I had worked hard on in training and the things I was watching out for during practice.
Yuzuru Hanyu (ANA), the winner of the All-Japan Figure Skating Championships and the consecutive winner of the Olympic Games in Sochi ’14 and Pyeongchang ’18, gave a joint interview after the men’s medalist press conference on the 26th, and talked about his innermost thoughts.
Q: Are you thinking of anything (career-wise) after the World Championships (next year)?
A: First of all, for me, the biggest thing is whether the World Championships will actually happen.
Well, first of all, being able to use my body is the most important. Because training on the quad Axel has a big impact (on my body) after all. Well, it’s not something that I can practice consistently, so to some extent, I have to train properly and build up my body. Well, I had decided not to do a quad Axel in my training for this competition. How can I put it, I’ve building up my body to prepare for the competition, so I think now my sense of the Axel has been changing once again, but as soon as this competition is over, after my body recovers, I will make sure to build my body to suit the quad Axel, and then train for it, then see how much I can do with the quad Axel. I haven’t been able to do it yet. I’m trying to quickly bridge the gap between my current image of the Axel and my body as soon as possible. I think it depends on how well I can execute it after I’ve become able to do it. Well, more than anything else, I don’t know if the World Championships will be held yet. I don’t know how next season’s competitions, including the Grand Prix, will go. Anyway, my current feeling is that I want to put out the best effort I can while keeping an eye on the situation of the world. Beyond that, I don’t know yet.
Q: Is there anything you felt was important or difficult while practicing without a coach?
A: Yes, I think there are absolutely aspects where I can’t be completely objective about when I’m by myself. Like when we’re talking like this, or when this becomes various articles in newspapers or the news (on TV), and I watch myself speaking through television. Similar to when I do that and am like ‘ah, it would have been good if I had said in this way’, or ‘I should’ve said this’, it’s the same in skating where there are parts you cannot be objective about when alone. So I think having a coach is an incredibly important thing, insofar as being able to provide new points of view and ones outside of your own. On the flipside though, I think precisely because I have an abundant amount of experiences, because I have more experiences compared to other athletes, it’s easier for me to have a more objective point of view about things like how I break down [under pressure], how I can produce good performance, how it becomes a bad performance, that sort of thing. So while reflecting on various things, even while being without a coach, I think I was able to leverage those experiences and connect my actual performance at Japanese Nationals this time with the training I was aiming for up until this point.
Q: About your planned layout. Up until now, you’ve put your combinations in the second half of the program. This time it was slightly front-loaded. What is the point of this? And what about your layout if you add the quad Axel?
A: Well if I did add the 4A I think it’d be my first jump. To put it simply, the reason for putting a combination in the first half is because the rate of success is higher there. Before deciding on this layout, there was originally a period where I couldn’t jump the loop. I couldn’t even jump the Salchow, and the toe-loop was in a dicey condition, so there was a period where I was in no position to put quads in the second half. Precisely because of that, I was in the process of putting a combination in the first half. So I went with that flow and then slowly while practising, I became able to jump the loop again – the Salchow was of course stabilised and then I stabilised my loop little by little, so I thought okay, I can put the loop and Salchow in my FS program layout. I did think about doing 2 toe-loop combinations in the second half and doing an Axel combination as the last jumping pass, too. Right now, if I look at the Free Program as a whole, instead of making the last jumping pass a combination, the Axel combination in the first half looks better – I think that’s the primary reason. Starting from the sound of the koto at that point [in the program], the mood picks up, I jump the Axel and then the loop, but originally I thought about making it a solo Axel jump, then solo loop, otherwise a 3Lz solo jump. Somehow I felt that the music creates a feeling of a bigger wind soaring through, so the jump that would express it best would be a 3A with a rippon 2T and then leading into the 3Lo with that momentum, which is the reason for putting it in the first half this time.
Q: The Beijing 2022 Olympics are getting closer. What’s your position on it at the moment?
A: This is speaking frankly but in the current situation where the Tokyo Olympics cannot go ahead, in my personal opinion, we’re not in a position to be thinking about the Winter Olympics. Of course, there are sponsors, commercials, and because this is an event where so many countries compete, of course there is a lot of money involved in that. Because of that I think there is a whole world that we don’t know. However, I’m not involved in that. As a single competitive figure skater, the Olympics is not a sport festival or event but, as an athlete, my ultimate goal. If we only think from that perspective, I’d like the Olympics to go ahead and of course I’d like to participate and win. However, against the backdrop of that, the current reality is that even the Tokyo Olympics cannot be held. Even if postponed, we still don’t know how it will turn out. For example, if we’re in a situation where taking the vaccine is compulsory or whether the audience will be able to attend… And also, balancing the cost, whether the Olympics is something that should be held. Truly, I think there are many people thinking about various factors, with a lot of different opinions. Therefore, within all of that, I’ve personally stopped myself from thinking about the Olympics, my ultimate goal. Therefore, rather than thinking whether or not I’ll participate, whether or not I’ll continue to compete until then, it’s more like I’m shutting down my thoughts about that a little right now.
Q: What is the ultimate goal of your skating career?
A: In any case, I’d like to land the 4A in competition. That’s the ultimate goal I’ve said countless times. However, this time, with such a long period of training alone, the difficulty of the 4A… Firstly, I wonder if I will be able to get there. When I think about how there were times when I felt like it was almost a wild fantasy, I won’t say there weren’t times where I wondered if it was okay to make this my ultimate goal. However, if I were not to lie to my own heart then, if I did not try to get there, truthfully speaking, my reason for skating… In this society, in this current situation, it feels like my reason for training, the reason for wanting to keep skating would vanish. So that’s why I’m still pushing ahead against the impregnable wall known as my 4A, though the hurdle is very high. It’s a wall so tall to the extent that it feels like there are no handholds or anything. Even so, I don’t want to leave it as just a dream. I will absolutely grasp it in my hands, and I want to look beyond that wall where there are no other walls. I think that may be the only reason I am able to skate in this current situation.
Q: What about the current status of the (quad) axel?
Q: Once the COVID19 situation improves, will you go back to your training base overseas?
A: Well, to be honest, I don’t know how the world will be. However, to confirm, I don’t think the training I’ve done thus far has been wrong. Um, in the end since I was able to apply the various things I have experienced thus far, and finally like a “veteran”, I was able to accumulate the [efforts of] various training, and without doubt as this was reflected in the results of this competition, I think I can finally say I did my best. And so, the training plan of a four-quad free program including a quad loop from this time will become a strong foundation for the sake of the quad Axel later. I think for now, making that go well should be the only thing I think about. Regardless of whether that will happen upon returning to Toronto or in Japan, and improving my body, my senses, and my technical and physical fitness is definitely something I think I know best. In any case, in the last one year I have gone through a lot of trial and error. That’s why, to utilize [what I learned from] that, whether it’s in Japan or in Canada, first I want to put in the work in training to improve the technical aspects needed to rotate and land a quad Axel. Is this okay? Did that answer the question?
Q: (This year) You graduated from university. Aside from training, what other kinds of things did you do during the pandemic?
A: Well, the time I spent with my family greatly increased. Usually I’m in Toronto and it’s not often that my whole family is able to get together and spend time. And by this it’s not that it was fun to be together like this, but rather we were able to think together about skating. Above all else, I thought that being supported by my whole family while I was skating is a great fortune. And, yes, I didn’t really go out, since I wasn’t doing anything but skating. Although (saying I was) doing nothing except skating might be a bit of an exaggeration. I did not go out at all, aside for skating. Um, that’s right. I felt maybe I was able to focus more on skating than when I was in Toronto. And… what else was there? Ah, university. Fortunately I was able to graduate from university. Regarding my thesis, yes, I might present it someday, I might not. I’m not really sure about that. I did as much research as I could think of, and of course there were connections to the training that I myself have done up until now. Above all, I thought that maybe [with my research*] the rules [of skating] would become easier to understand, it would have to. Perhaps in the future, [after] performing to where I’m satisfied, I’ll retire from competition, become a professional [skater], become a coach/mentor, etc. So, in that progression, if that kind of technology is needed, there’s that option too. After all, I think that as a top athlete, [it would be good] to become a means of opening up something new.
*T/N: Yuzuru is referring to his graduation thesis in which he explored the topic of 3D motion capture technology being applied to figure skating, and he stated his hope that in the future there could be AI-based scoring incorporating new technology. He talked about his thesis and thoughts on his university career in his recent article featured in Waseda University’s Campus Now magazine; translation can be found here.
2014 Sochi and 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic gold medallist Yuzuru Hanyu (ANA) secured his 5th Japanese National Champion title with a score of 215.83 in the Free Skate and an overall score of 319.36. These are his comments in an interview with Fuji TV after the performance.
A: Firstly, while looking at it objectively… I think it’s significant that I was able to properly believe in the training I did and trust the feeling in my body. More than anything yesterday – though it was in part precisely because it was that type of program – there were parts in that first competition where I had exerted a bit too much power, so frankly, it’s good that I was able to feel that yesterday.
Q: You began the program with a 4Lo and then a 4S and it scored you high marks A: Well, firstly when it comes to the loop jump, it’s very difficult to get flow from that jump. For me, it’s been awhile since I’ve maintained the flow and completed the loop jump with positive GOE. It’s a point that I am very happy about. In regards to the Salchow and toe-loop, they are jumps I have a lot of confidence in and two jumps that have accompanied me for many years* so I had confidence and completed them.
*T/N: Here, his language sort of personifies his jumps as people/things who’ve been ‘doing’ skating together with him so we’ve tried to express that feeling through the translation
Q: What kind of feelings have you put into this program?
A: The setting of this music features Lord Uesugi Kenshin.* In any case, I myself like competing, and in the act of competing itself, how to put it, the fun of it is in things like (figuring out) how to focus, and these kinds of exciting things are what I can’t get enough of. However, in all of that, (there are feelings like) fighting and still not winning, or (things) you can say are painful, like being consumed by anguish. Also, like when I come in first place, someone else will be 2nd or 3rd, and I am feeling that it is like there is a “sacrifice,” or a cost, so I am somewhat influenced by Lord Kenshin’s overall sense of values he held towards battle. Right now, in this world, there may be many things people have to fight against, so it would be nice if everyone could come to see something like a “core” or will within themselves as they head into battle (upon watching this program).
*T/N: Referring to 16th century/medieval Japanese warlord Uesugi Kenshin who ruled over part of northern Japan. The music for his free program this time is taken from a 1969 taiga genre (historical) drama called “Heaven and Earth” about Kenshin. In an earlier comment, Yuzuru pointed out that he resonates with Kenshin’s overall view of battle/competition as always having come with a cost, or a “sacrifice.” Earlier comment was translated here.
2014 Sochi and 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic gold medallist Yuzuru Hanyu (ANA) secured his 5th Japanese National Champion title after 5 years with a score of 215.83 in the Free Skate and an overall score of 319.36. After his performance, he answered some questions in an online interview.
Q: (Your feelings) After ending the short & free programs
A: Last year, I was pretty frustrated, so I think it’s good I was able to get a little revenge, but, well, more than anything else, ultimately, hmm, in these kind of circumstances, [I felt] bad about calling [my] coach would be kind of bad*, so more than anything, um, if it’s something I can handle on my own, I internally decided that, given the current circumstances, I shouldn’t call my coach if I wanted to be able to go into the competition with confidence. Well, in these conditions, [I thought] being able to do a good performance like this was really good. And also, even though I have been working alone, I want to express my gratitude to the many who have supported me thus far.
*T/N: Our guess is that he is trying to express that he does not want to trouble his coaches during the current circumstances since he can handle it on his own.
Q: What are the difficulties of doing things (i.e. practice, training) alone?
A: For instance, last season, there was Uno-senshu who competed in the Grand Prix series by himself* and amidst all that I felt that certainly that must be difficult to do. Also, I myself had a little trouble [last year] at the Grand Prix Final with my coach*, and I had to do the short program alone, and I had the experience of that not going well. Ultimately, [this year], my doubts and worries have increased a lot by doing everything all by myself for this long period of time, but although I’m doing it alone, it’s precisely because of the fact that I’ve been training alone that I was again able to feel that somehow, somewhere I’m connected [to others]. This time too, [I’ve received] support from afar, and of course this includes things like messages and words I’ve received, and conversely, not just these kinds of tangible things but, I think there are also many who are sending me support from very far away, so above all I very much want to express my gratitude to them.
*T/N: Referring to skater Shoma Uno who competed without a coach for part of last season.
**T/N: Referring to how in GPF 2019, Coach Ghislain was to be accompanying Yuzuru but ended up getting delayed due to his passport getting stolen.
Q: (With your efforts being rewarded) in the free program, what is your response?A: First, well, in this program I myself have great attachment to it. If I listen to the music I get very emotional. Of course, in each individual movement there are various meanings imbued into them. However, in all of that, if the jumps are not completed as well, I think what I want to convey with the program as a whole with its flow does not come across. So, although it was the first competition [of the season], with regard to things like what I wanted to convey, I think I was able to show a little of what I wanted to in this program, as the jumps were not interrupted.
A: For me, something happened at last year’s Japanese Nationals and also the Grand Prix Finals. I felt like I wasn’t really growing, that I was slowly becoming unable to fight, those sort of thoughts were in my head. For a moment, I thought that I had become tired of competing, and I could probably give up at any point, though I think there are probably many people supporting me who don’t want that to happen. But within that fight, I realised once again that I love the feeling of accomplishment you get in a competition, the feeling of being able to do things, overcoming things, the suffering of being able to overcome hardships, etc, those feelings that exist because of competitions. Also, bringing up Uesugi Kenshin*, well, things like his perspective on battle, within that there was (a sense of) aesthetics you could say. Also, he had conflict with the fact (there were always) sacrifices that resulted from fighting, and so I think ultimately he ended up becoming a monk. So in that way, like reaching a state of enlightenment or understanding, I think maybe something like Lord Kenshin’s sense of values is kind of similar (to mine). I tried to skate while linking these kinds of things together with my performance.
*t/n: Referring to 16th century/medieval Japanese warlord Uesugi Kenshin who ruled over part of northern Japan. The music for Yuzuru’s free program this time is taken from a 1969 taiga genre (historical) drama called “Heaven and Earth” that is about Kenshin’s life. Kenshin was educated at a temple for some time in his youth and for the rest of his life was regarded as an honorable warrior, known for his religious devotion to the Buddhist god of war, Bishamonten. In an earlier comment, Yuzuru pointed out that he resonates with Kenshin’s overall view of battle/competition as always having come with a cost, or a “sacrifice.” Earlier comment was translated here: https://twitter.com/shinjistarxx/status/1342787528550723585
Q: What are the key details you’re mindful of in your choreography?
A: All of it. Hehehehe. I think if any one detail is missed this program will probably… not just this program, but especially the programs in the last 5 or 6 seasons, probably would not be complete. More than anything, the fact I was able to jump seamlessly without exerting too much force was the best part in being able to complete the expression [of the program].
Q: Is the sense of continuity an important pillar [in your programs]?
A: Yes it is. Therefore, I think a performance like yesterday’s [short program] is still a little unrefined. There are of course emotions I’d like to show, but within that, it’s not the feeling of ‘yeah I jumped that, yahoo!’ or ‘Eyyy~’ but more…something smarter – if it was Robbie [Williams], he’d express it in a smarter way, because it’s English rock… um, how do I put this. It’s not really about a particular country’s [rock style] but I think it’s a kind of rock with more room to play with. Yesterday I thought I am probably not able to express that yet, but reflecting on it last night, I want to do a performance with more freedom and make it feel more alive.
Q: How do you want next year to take shape? A: In any case, this time I have trained for a long time by myself and well, there were of course problems in the Short Program and honestly speaking, they are not performances I can call perfect. In particular, in regards to today [Free Program], I feel very reassured, in myself and also I think those watching can feel reassured that, as they were able to see, I can do an original performance. That the way I trained was right. I think I’ve found a training method that is suitable for my current body condition, one that helps me grow, so from here on I’d like to keep refining it further and I hope that I can continue [training] without injuries while challenging harder jumps.
Q: At the end of your program for a few seconds, what did you see?
A: What was it? It wasn’t as though I was thinking about anything in particular. It’s just…how do I put this… I felt like I had received a huge amount of various kinds of energies, and it was like I had finally come out of this battle, so I stood there afterwards – that sort of feeling. It wasn’t really like I was looking at something but rather, it felt like I was watching from a different place.
Q: What is the meaning behind the choreography of the beginning?
A: Well, it’s Shae’s [idea]… how should I put it, it’s kind of like a rough image but, I heard that it is an image meant to be like a warrior’s armor and helmet, originally. (Gesturing with his body and hands) Like, [she had] an image that here would be the armor, and here would be like a helmet. In my mind, “Heaven, and Earth, and”* ends with [the word] “and,” which of course, I’m using from the title of the taiga (historical) drama as is, but in my mind, I had an image of heaven and earth, and humanity, or a person, perhaps myself, like an image that it’s “Yuzuru Hanyu.” I think (with gestures) that in this space, it’s maybe in between heaven and the earth, then (in that space) I meant for it to be an image of as if I am there.
*T/N: Referring to the title of his program, 天と地と (“Heaven and Earth, and”), which is taken from a 1960s taiga (historical) drama of the same name.
Q: This song makes good use of the sound of the biwa. (Japanese lute)
A: Well…hmmm, the biwa sound in the beginning of the song is taken as it was from the original piece. In terms of the flow of the song, it’s full of determination, like we’re going to fight, or filled with a sense of preparing to go into battle. And at the end, after the Ina Bauer, the biwa sound while spinning is not a sound that exists in the first place, but a sound that I brought from a different piece of music* and layered it with a different song to make it original. There during the ChSq, the image is of [Kenshin] who doesn’t want to fight anymore, but that he must continue to fight in order to protect. In the end, when Lord Kenshin is entering his priesthood, he is reflecting on the half of his life thus far, so with that image in mind, I tried to overlay the sound of the biwa there.
*T/N: Different song or different part from the same song, it’s not clear
Q: How about the koto? (Japanese harp-like instrument)
A: I wanted to make the program even more ‘Japonesque’. At that part, in my mind, the feeling is meant to be like after [Kenshin] has fought Lord Shingen*; it is after their fight at Kawanakajima, and they are enveloped by fog and then separated (from one another’s view) so they are (left to) face their own selves. I thought it would be nice to have the sound of the biwa to feel that sense of facing yourself, where your own heartbeat is ringing in your ears, and maybe also that sensation of blood flowing, and then suddenly that sense of bloodlust and the need to kill subsides. For this program, I chose the piece myself. In picking the music, I made quite many versions editing it too, including the sound itself. However, I’m not a musician, so I do wonder if it matches the skating.
*t/n: Referring to another 16th century Japanese warlord, Takeda Shingen, who was famously known for having a long-standing rivalry with Kenshin. The two clashed many times at the site of Kawanakajima, which is located in present-day Nagano (incidentally close to Nagano Big Hat, the arena where this competition was held).
Q: What meaning does this competition hold in your competitive career?
A: I think what I said when the competition first started was everything. Should I call it my own desire, um, it’s a very personal opinion, so even now I’m still conflicted whether I can stick with that. It’s very personal, and if the World Championships happen, if I don’t get closer to it in advance a bit, I have the impression that it’d become difficult later. So, um, it felt like reaching for the light that I want to grasp for in the dark world that is the current COVID19 pandemic.
Q: What do you think about restarting at Nagano this time?
A: Of course, even though I have a good impression [of the venue], on the contrary, exactly because I have a good impression of it, I was afraid of breaking that, and feared that I would be caught up in it. I’ve had a long competitive career until now, finally. Rather than the techniques or the technical level, it’s so cool to be able to use your mentality, or your experiences in interpersonal sports like Federer in tennis and of course, Kodaira in [speed] skating. I honestly think it’s hard to make use of those things in figure skating. Even when I’ve become a veteran, I can’t utilize them well. But I’ve finally been able to make it work at this competition.
The men’s short program (SP) was held, and Yuzuru Hanyu (ANA), the reigning Olympic champion in Sochi ’14 and Pyeongchang ’18, finished in first with a score of 103.53. After his performance, he reflected on his SP in an online interview.
A: In the beginning, it’s Jeffrey Buttle who picked the music. At first, I was looking for a piano piece, but, well, Jeffrey-san wasn’t really able to decide on something either. So, even after going over 2-3 choices, in the end, there wasn’t one that really just came to me. And in the midst of seeing the news and the current state of the world, I think ultimately a kind of light-hearted piece [would be better], uhm, since everyone is watching me skate even during these tough times, I thought maybe something of a cheerful theme (would be good).
Q: [What are your thoughts] Heading into the free program?
A: First, I think it’s important to recover properly. However, I think I’ve had amazing practices before this. Though in reality, that’s not reflected in the score. As for the jumps, all I can say is that I’ve landed them. I hope I can properly deliver another good performance tomorrow.
Q: [What are your thoughts] upon finishing your skate?
A: Well, to be honest, I think I was able to enjoy it, but looking at the score, I can’t say that it was a good performance, therefore, my current thought is that I would like to revise it while doing my best to prepare for tomorrow.
A: For the time being it’s that I didn’t push to maximize the technical (aspects) at all. Also, well, I think my jumps are (usually) high-earning in GOE. I think it’s an issue that I wasn’t able to properly obtain that.
Q: What were your feelings upon entering the venue?
A: Now that you mention it, it felt like I couldn’t really hear any voices. On the contrary somehow, the cheers that everyone gave for today’s new program and when they saw the new costume felt like they were resonating inside my heart. It was like I received that support in a new way.
Q: You put in 2 quads. What do you think about their quality?
A: Well, I’ve landed them, so you could say 50% I guess… However, about the scores, I haven’t seen the details actually so I can’t say anything. But in terms of GOE, it wasn’t good so, uhm, I’m thinking it’d be great if I can figure out things such as how to upgrade it a little bit more, how to allocate time in the 6-minute warmup, etc.
Q: (Your thoughts) on doing a rock number after a long while?
A: Um, well to be honest, it was a little unfortunate not to be able to hear (audience) cheering, but, well, I think I was able to somehow feel that maybe those watching on TV or those watching online were cheering very loudly me on, so I was able to skate while having fun.
A: To speak in detail, first, I was sent the stepwork. Well, the placement of the steps themselves were in reverse.* Also, things like the incorporation of the music and hand movements, well, there’s a lot that mostly I arranged. And, regarding the jumps too, I conveyed the overall timing I wanted to do for them, and then, there were also the [parts] Jeff arranged. So I wanted to ask various things about how all of that would fit in if it went with my original timing, but I didn’t get a reply at all (laughs), so yes, I choreographed it by myself while going through trial and error.
*T/N: This is our guess but we assume he means that because he was sent the video of the choreo that was presumably shot front on (the way the audience would see his performance), he would have had to mirror the steps instead of copying directly what he saw on the video when actually skating the choreo.
Q: Anything you are particularly emphasizing (in the program)?
A: Well, I think it’s maybe something like “push and pull.” I’m trying to add in a lot of different things. Really, in a certain sense, I think I’m trying to emphasize that everything in the program is worth paying attention to. However, amongst all of that, it’s to be balanced with the jumps. Also, well, I tried to insert various things while considering the artistic aspect, like where I could take a breath and really ride it out, all while everyone is watching.
Q: Did you arrange or put anything from your old performances (into this program)?
A: Of course there were things that seem to be now associated with my name, which are things that I want to highlight, and things that I extracted (from my old programs). However, afterall, I took a lot of care thinking about how to choreograph this program and for this music.
The Japanese National Championships will start from 25 December at Nagano’s Big Hat. Sochi 2014 and Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Gold Medallist Yuzuru Hanyu (ANA) attended the public practice at the venue on the 24th. For Hanyu, who had withdrawn from the Grand Prix series due to the effects of COVID-19, this competition will be his first this season. After the practice, he was interviewed online.
Q: How was your feeling after the public practice, and the thoughts behind deciding to compete at the Japanese National Championships?
A: It’s been awhile since I’ve practised on a rink with so many people so there were certain senses/feelings [of being on the ice with them] that I didn’t quite grasp but in a sense, it was a fresh feeling and for me, truly something that I haven’t had in awhile so it was fun as well.
Q: You withdrew from the Grand Prix series. What was the thought process behind deciding to compete at the Japanese National Championships?
A: Well, my thinking hasn’t really changed. If I were to speak frankly, if it were based on my own personal considerations, where possible, I did not want to participate in activities that could be connected to spreading the virus [COVID-19]. And right now, throughout all of Japan, well, within what they are calling the third wave of the virus that is coming at us quickly, I was conflicted about whether it was okay for me to compete. However, when considering the World Championships – since the Four Continents has been cancelled – it was absolutely necessary to compete here firstly to qualify for the World Championships, so I feel the decision to compete is for the sake of tying it with my own hopes.
Q: How were your training conditions during the pandemic, and how did you pass the days?
A: Well, everyday I’m alone and practicing without a coach. Also, yes, stuff like aftercare* was difficult too. As much as possible, I’m not in contact with anyone aside from my family. I really did not go out at all. But even so, for me, it was an environment where I could focus on my skating, and I think maybe I was able to get in some good practice.
*T/N: Likely he means aftercare like massages and treatment after exercising etc.
A: It seems if I start worrying about something, I find it easy to enter into a spiral of negative (thoughts). But, since I was alone, I was able to deeply analyze things such as techniques on how to control it when I fall into it. Also, it was a good opportunity to experience how my condition gets worse, or my condition improves, not subject to external factors but originating from myself.
Q: What are the highlights of your programs this season, and the jump layouts?
A: With regards to the free program, the quads are loop and Salchow, and in the later half I plan to put two quad toeloops. In the short program, in the first half it’s the 4S and 4T-3T combination. In the second half I plan to do a back counter 3A.
Q: What would you like to express [in your programs]?
A: In terms of the FS I skated today, of course there is a theme to the story and a story I want to convey, but I truly would like for it to speak to the feelings of the people watching it, or something within themselves, without it being restricted [by my own interpretation]. In regards to the SP, I haven’t skated it yet today but…um, let’s see. If it can make people feel like raising their arms in the air, I would be happy.
A: Well, it was the first day of practice so well, I [did so] while properly confirming my senses/feeling [for the rink/competition]. Well, I don’t think the skating itself has exactly come but I am confirming these one at a time. I skated today’s practice while thinking anew about the best way to get a feel for the ice.
Q: Was it a good feeling to skate to Ballade No. 1?
A: Well, I can only say I will leave that to the impressions of people watching in the audience, but well, I was really nervous today. But I felt again…well, apart from Pyeongchang, it was my first time running through Ballade No. 1 in front of everyone so while being very nervous, I felt like I was once more preparing myself to skate to this program.
Q: What was your reason for changing the programs?
A: Um, I think just with this question, the interview will probably be over. Firstly, at the Grand Prix Final and Japanese Nationals, I think it’s very fun to raise the difficulty [of my layouts], and the happiness at the moment of accomplishing them is immeasurable, but, well… I think the skating I’m aspiring to is not just doing difficult things.
I did Origin, did Otonal, but perhaps it’s not something that fits my rhythm/pace. Firstly, when it comes to technical things, the more I put in difficult elements, the more I neglect the portions of my own skating, and something I hate is separating my mind from the music because I must do so to set up for jumps. A big [factor/reason for the change] was not being able to tolerate that. And also, in terms of music, I selected those pieces Origin and Otonal after the Olympics had finished, when I myself was in a very ambivalent/floating mood, feeling like I was constantly that young boy who was always chasing after Johnny Weir and Plushenko.
Therefore, I think it’s indeed true that the Otonal at Japanese Nationals was good and Skate Canada’s Origin was good but, after all, I was thinking that I could not perfect them as my own performance. Because the ideal was that hard to reach. That ‘ideal’ was probably not me, but I think that of Plushenko-san and Johnny-san’s shadows*. Therefore, when I thought of it, this was not my skating and thought this once more when performing Seimei during Medallist on Ice. When I skated Seimei…well, it’s not really about a cover and original song but I really felt a difference similar to that within myself. Truthfully, Seimei and Ballade No. 1 are kids who, as legend-like records** to be passed down, so if I had been able to, I wanted to let them sleep. But, even so, during Medallist on Ice, when I borrowed their power – and maybe it was because of my mentality at the time – I thought I was able to be myself to a staggering degree. So, yes, for a little while longer, I thought it was okay to borrow the power of these kids, yes.
*literally he says their ‘backs’ were the ideal, essentially the ‘backs’ who he was chasing after or their idealised image in his head, but I’ve taken the liberty to use a more common English expression.
**he uses しまっている which is a suffix usually used to denote something that’s not ideal/good – here it’s attached to 記録を持ってしまっている – holding the records. Our interpretation is that he’s saying it’s almost a bad thing that they have those records because it gives these programs a particular weight because of their ‘legendary’ reputation that he doesn’t want to risk/harm by performing them again.
Q: What’s the degree of completion for your 4A, will you fight with it at the World Championships?
A: U~m… well, if I can’t jump it then I cannot put it in, though I’ll do it if I can. I think I was indeed able to practice it during this month-long period. I haven’t landed it, but somehow or another, I think its condition/shape has gotten better.
A beautiful and powerful melody sounded somewhere around Tokyo. Chopin Ballade No. 1. The performer is Ms. Kanon Matsuda. Moving to Moscow at the age of 6, she is the most noted young pianist who has studied at the Moscow Conservatory since 2014 as the first Japanese to receive the Russian government special scholarship.
Off to the side, behind Ms. Matsuda, a young man leans, with closed eyes, sometimes following the rhythm of the music with his body. The man is Yuzuru Hanyu, a figure skater who performs to this song for his short program in the 2017-2018 season.
Hanyu wiped the sweat off his neck with a handkerchief, took a sip of his drink and took a breath. Then he returned to Ms. Matsuda. Art and sports: the two young talents began to discuss “expression”.
H: Yuzuru Hanyu, M: Kanon Matsuda
２人にとって、ショパン『バラード第１番』とは？ For these two, what is Chopin's Ballade No. 1?
H:It was a wonderful performance. I'd like to skate to such piano music.
M:Thank you very much!
H: What does Ballade No. 1 mean to you?
M: I played this song at a recital in Kagawa Prefecture, where I'm from. After that, it was decided that it would be included in my debut CD (Matsuda Kanon Debut Recital). So, it is a good memory for me.
H: Actually, I was listening to that CD all day yesterday.
M: Really? I'm so happy to hear that!
H: I heard that you interpret songs like stories. What kind of story do you think this song has?
M: I try to think of different stories each time. But this time, I was trying to think about the relationship between Soames and Irene in the Forsyte Saga by Galsworthy, and try to include Soames's feelings for Irene in the music.
H: Wow! That is really impressive! Do you read a lot?
M: I do. I love reading.
H: For me, about this Ballade No. 1 - of course, I have strong feelings. How can I explain: I can be myself. I feel like I can assimilate myself into this song.
M: I see.
H: I don't own it before I perform it, like "I want to express this" or "I want to express that". Within myself, something is being completed while I'm actually performing it.
M: That's amazing!
H: When I watched you perform, I thought that you place importance on the way you exert force, breathing out and breathing in. Maybe that is similar to the feeling of skating. So, listening to your performance, I’ve learned that I have to do something like that, too.
M: I'm so happy to hear that. Thank you very much. I watched the Sochi Olympics on TV at home in Moscow. Unlike other sports, figure skating is an artistic competition that further expresses what you feel listening to music. From your skating, I feel passion and a lot of energy is transmitted.
演奏・演技を通して観客に伝えたいことWhat do you wish to convey to the audience through your performances?
H: As you mentioned earlier, "to think of a different story each time". But does it mean that you do so each time you perform, even for the same song?
M: Yes. Even if I try to think the same as before, I can't do it easily. If it's raining: "Oh, it's rainy" and I try to play with a slightly sad feeling, or try to play with the feeling of hope.
H: Do you decide on the story before going onstage?
M: Yes. I decide it vaguely. However, if there's a character I clearly want to convey, I go over and over it in my head until just before I go onstage.
H: But there are many cases where classical piano music doesn't have a concrete character. There is a lot of influence from the outside weather or the atmosphere in the venue, isn't there?
M: Yes. Exactly.
H: I thought that you are expressing things such as human nature, things that you've experienced so far and the background of your current thoughts .
M: How is it in figure skating?
H: I think it's close to the sensation of producing sounds. Of course, the song exists already, it is not something you create yourself, but I hope people will feel: "This person is not just skating along with the song".
M: I see. I see. You mean putting your own meaning into the song?
Something like putting meaning into every step?
H: Instead of "putting", it's more like "entering". Everyone who's listening and watching, and even me who’s skating, all have different pasts, different experiences. For example, a sad song -if you experienced something sad recently, will make you feel extremely sad,but if you've just had fun and are feeling excited, the way you feel it will be different. You may be able to see something like hope comes after sorrow. I really want to pay attention to those kind of things. There are many things I want to convey, but I want to convey a different "something" to every person watching.
M: I think that sense you have is wonderful.
Do you embrace passion in music or pursue depth?松田:羽生選手は美しさや表現力について、どのようにお考えですか？
M: What do you think about beauty and the ability to express it?
H: Figure skating is explicitly technical. The ultimate goal is to land all your jump and other elements cleanly in a high-level program.
Within that framework, if you think too much about "Let's tell this" or "Let's tell that", you will mess up, make more mistakes and, in my opinion, end up not conveying what you want. And it messes up my feelings, too.
How about you? What do you do when the situation doesn’t line up with your expectations?
M: There's no doubt that "Things did not go as I expected" moments happen during concerts and recitals. But, for me, the sound is the ultimate. I have to consider the quality of the sound, so I think more about the images of the songs and the messages I would like to give rather than the technical aspects.
H: For example, even if one note eludes you while you are playing, do you completely forget about it after that moment?
M: Yes, it completely disappears after that moment! [laughs]
If you don't shut out that mistake, you could make the same mistake again, and then the music itself would stop.
You need to keep playing the images and stories, otherwise, the song doesn't continue. So, I sweep away the mistakes.
And, in fact, if someone points it out - "You made mistakes today, didn't you?", there are times I wonder, "Did I?"
H: Yeah, there are also times when I forget mistakes in my jumps, etc.
M: How do you choose the songs for your programs?
H: For my free skate, I've chosen the songs myself for the past 5-6 years.The standard I follow is how much interest I have in the program. I'll be skating that program everyday for a year or two, so there will definitely be times that I'll get tired of listening to the song. It is a huge deal whether I can be passionate about the song or not.
So, you can't pursue a song without "depth". But, in the case of figure skating, if the song is too difficult, people watching will end up thinking, "Oh, it’s difficult."
M: I understand what you're saying.
H: That's why I pay a lot of attention to what kind of songs are easy to convey to people and easy for me to use to express what I want to express.
M: Amazing! But that is a difficult thing. In my case, I have to play for an hour and a half for a recital, so I also have to calculate whether I'll have the physical strength or not. Physically, it's easier for me to only play slow music, but the people listening will get bored of that, right?
Because of the support, we can try our best to achieve our dreams.羽生:松田さんは６歳からモスクワでピアノを学んでいて、今はロシア政府の特別奨学生としてモスクワ音楽院に在籍しているんですよね。
H: You have studied piano in Moscow since you were 6 years old and now you're enrolled in the Moscow Conservatory as a special scholar of the Russian government, right?
Does the Russian art sector cultivate young talent?
M: Yes. And I think Russia has a solid support mechanism for the arts.
Basically, at the music school from which I graduated, all students are exempt from tuition.
However, there are strict exams. Those who don't meet the standards will be charged tuition the following year or will be expelled unless they can pass.
It's tough, but I think the system's great. Currently, at the Moscow Conservatory, the top 40 Russian students are exempt from tuition fees.
I took the same exams as the local Russians, unlike foreigners, and was selected to be a special government scholar.
H: That's so impressive! I'm also supported by subsidies sponsored by the revenue of a sports lottery (toto BIG) as a JSC top athlete.
Skating is a very costly sport, so with this subsidy mechanism and the power gained through the support of my fans, I'm striving towards my dreams.
M: I'm grateful to everyone for supporting me. I think I will try my best in the future as well.
Each movement, a sound. Adding meaning to everything羽生:松田さんは6歳からずっとモスクワで暮らしてるんですよね。現地でのスケート人気はどうですか？
H: You've been living in Moscow since you were 6 years old, haven't you? How is the popularity of skating there?
M: I have. Figure skating is very popular.
There are many skating rinks in Moscow. There’s a rink at Red Square in the winter as well.
So it's an environment where many citizens enjoy skating on a daily basis, as well as supporting skaters.
I've also been asked, "Let's go skate", but, if I get injured, my performance will be affected, so I've never gone skating unfortunately.
H: I've been taught by Russian choreographers in the past. What I was taught was sharpness and power, as well as how to use breathing, how to move my body, things like that.
And today, I got the same sense from your performance. I felt empathy.
What was the most beneficial thing you’ve cultivated in Russia?
M: Professor Elena Ivanova of the Gnessin Academy of Music has spoken with me for the last 12 years I've been studying.
[How can you embrace passion in music or pursue depth?]
"Never play sounds that are meaningless." Be sure to create meaning in every sound.
She told me to practice thinking of words or to create stories to the phrases. She’d tell me to read this book, watch this movie, look at this picture - stuff like that, in order to do so.
H: I see. Interesting. I've learned something.
M: She also taught me how to use my body. I have smaller hands and thinner arms than most pianists, so how much power to put in, what kind of sound comes out when I do so, where to draw power from. She taught me such things.
H: The characteristics of our bodies also have a great influence in figure skating.
Style, height, length of limbs. When I was taught by a Russian teacher, I was told, "Because you have long limbs, utilize them more." I’m once again reminded of that specific advice.
And, actually, this season, I'm using a song Seimei (from the soundtrack of the movie "Onmyoji") in the free program, but even in this program, my choreographer told me that I need to make sure that every single movement , every simple action has meaning.
Today, I talked with you and realized that we have a lot in common.
Aiming for a new stage, on each different path羽生:松田さんの今後の目標や予定を教えてください。
H: Could you tell me your goals and plans?
M: In June 2017, my second album, "Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition" was released. Since autumn, there have been a lot of recitals for that album. So, I'd like to do my best to play with pleasure for everyone.
The 8th song on the album is "Mercutio" (from "Romeo and Juliet"). Personally, I’m imagining and wonder how it’d be if you skated to that song.
H: I'd love to go to a recital to listen to that song. I wonder if it’ll be the middle of the skating season. [laughs]
M: The Pyeongchang Olympics are coming. Please tell me about your enthusiasm.
H: I want to properly manage my physical condition and such for the Olympics. Also, since injury is inherent in sports, I need to be careful of that hope that I can do my best every day. That’s my current feeling.
M: Please do your best! I’m rooting for you!
They use rinks that are only half the size of international standards, but a bright and cheerful challenge proceeds under a leader who has the unique background of having competed in the roller skating world championship.
リマ市内の中心部にある遊戯施設内で、子どもたちの声が響き渡る。２０１１年に完成したという同国初の常設リンク「アイスランドパーク」だ。 Children’s voices echo in the play facilities in the center of Lima. It’s the first permanent rink in the country, Iceland Park, which was completed in 2011.
「日本から来たの？ ここでユヅル・ハニュー（羽生結弦）を知らない人はいないよ」。日本から見て地球の反対側にある国の子どもたちが口々に１４年ソチ五輪の男子金メダリストに親しみを込めていた。 “Did you come from Japan? There’s no one here who doesn’t know about Yuzuru Hanyu.” Children from countries on the other side of the globe from Japan are familiar with the 2014 Sochi Olympic men’s gold medalist.
Himena Olmaturia (17), who won the first competition, is very passionate about skating: “Peru is a nation known for being good at football or volleyball. I wanted to try a different sport. I feel like I am flying when I skate in the rink.”
However, it is difficult to say that the facility is suitable to prepare for the Olympics. It is 32 meters in length and 14 meters in width – about half of the international standard (60 meters by 30 meters), which is considered desirable for the Olympics and other competitions. Covered with a vinyl curtain, it is not a completely indoor facility. Water drips from the ceiling, hitting the ice.
Even though the government provides uniforms, it doesn’t allow the establishment of a federation because the facility is a private entity. For this reason, Peru is not a member of the International Skating Union (ISU).
Their technical skills are also similar to the level of beginners in Japan. Olmaturia, one of the top skaters, has learned to 4 single jumps out of the 6 types of jumps. More than half of the skaters have less than a year of competitive experience.
Still, they are full of passion. In the choreographic practice, while music flows, the atmosphere becomes lively like at a real competition and the skaters’ motivations rise up. An expensive apparatus for practicing jumps was handmade by a supporter.
Mr. Lois, who teaches the skaters, talked about his dream. “Practice environment, great talent, discipline – Japan has everything necessary for competition. Even if it takes 10 or 20 years, I would like my skaters to win the Olympics and world championships like Japanese skaters.”