Koshiro Shimada: "I am trying my best to show a lot of performance"
December 24, 2020
By Judith Dombrowski
Photos© Judith Dombrowski, Joy, Mireille Geurts
Additonal thanks to the fans who submitted questions for Koshiro on Twitter which I included in this interview.
I had watched Koshiro Shimada from Japan skating live before, had seen his performances on TV numerous times, and had always liked his positive personality. He impressed me even more in person. I met a true sunshine — a young man super supportive towards his teammates during practice sessions, and an extremely nice and polite interview partner.
Koshiro, very nice to meet you, how are you right now?
I am very good actually. I had great practices recently and spent some nice time with my teammates.
So, what do you focus on in practices right now?
I'm focusing on my new programs, trying to include many quads in them. I'll do two quads in my short program and three in the free. Improving them is my first priority right now.
You are doing quad toe loop and Salchow, right?
Yes, exactly. Sometimes I do quad loop and quad Lutz but they aren't included in the programs yet.
You told in a recent interview that you chose the music for your new short program yourself — "Fire Dance". How and why did you choose that piece of music?
So, first I did the choreo for my exhibition and my long program with Stéphane. I wanted to have a different style for my short program. I wanted to be cooler and more on fire. I searched for something and then I found this piece by Jennifer Thomas. Then I told Stéphane that I wanted to skate to this piece, and he thought it was a good idea.
Do you know already what the costume is going to look like?
Not yet. But probably it will be red and black, so it will look like fire.
Your long program will be to the "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini". Can you tell us a little bit about this program?
I presented this program during the showcase at the end of our summer camp. I can say that it's more elegant than what I did last year. During the showcase I could already feel my emotions coming out to the audience. I really love this program. It's hard to skate with all those difficult jumps, but I'm trying my best to show a good performance in this program. It's not just "jump, jump, jump". I'm trying to connect everything. I really enjoy practicing it.
Angelo Dolfini joined the Skating School recently as a coach. How do you like working with him?
He is a very, very nice guy. He's very kind and his smile is like a sunshine. He is already a part of Team Champéry. It's like he has been here forever. It's very good to have him here. We are training with him mostly on the jumps. He's more like a technical coach.
Sounds like a great addition to the team.
Everyone had a hard time recently because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and still no one really knows when the world will be back to normal. Besides not being able to skate, what was the hardest thing for you during that time?
I went back to Japan around the end of February. I needed to quarantine there. I couldn't meet anyone except my mom. Staying at home all the time — that was an extremely hard time for me.
Oh yes, I can totally imagine. How did you spend your time during that period?
I did the Zoom training with Stéphane and Team Champéry. But it was of course not the same, as I could not see them in person. It was just very hard. I became really stressed staying inside all the time. I felt lost because I couldn't go anywhere. Just a really hard time. After a while I could meet with some other Japanese skaters. And of course I was in contact with Team Champéry. Then it was okay. We could motivate each other and give each other strength.
But when you came back to Switzerland you didn't have to quarantine again, right?
Nooooo!! (laughs very loudly) Luckily not!
Right now Shoma Uno still didn't come back to Switzerland and is missing from the team. (interview was taken on August 13th – ed.) But how was training alongside him last season?
It was great. It was such a sad moment when it was announced that they couldn't go to Worlds. He was doing great. He was very much in form. Deniss as well. They were on fire. And I got a really good influence from them. I really hope I will see Shoma very soon. We all miss him. But I think the plan is that he comes back in September.
Are you in contact with him right now?
So did you follow his recent gaming successes?
Yes, I saw what he was doing. I am not as good as him for sure. When I saw his gaming technique, I was like, wow, I could never compete with him. He is so good.
Well, it's always good to learn from the better ones, right?
Oh yes, for sure.
You started studying psychology in addition to skating. Why did you choose this subject?
I thought it may be good for my skating and a possible coaching career. In the future I want to become a show skater and a coach, maybe also a choreographer. Just like Stéphane. That's why I chose those studies. I think they can be really helpful.
What would you say is the most important thing you learned from your coach, Stéphane Lambiel?
I got a lot of passion from him. He is just so passionate. If I'll have students someday, I would also like to transmit that passion to them.
Oh yes, I agree - passionate - a great word to describe him. Is there anything you learned from him or admire about him off the ice?
He is very strong. I think his body is perfect. He doesn't see it himself that way, but I just think that he is so strong and I would love to be like that. Deniss is also very strong. He has great muscles and is in great shape. I really want to be like them.
Apart from skating, how do you spend your free time here in Champéry?
Well, I am cooking and cleaning my stuff, that's my routine during my day off. Sometimes I play games. And now I'm also doing my studies of course. But right now we have summer holidays. So I have free time from the studies. Sometimes I also go into the mountains.
I remember you were living in a shared apartment with some other skaters. Is that still the case?
Now I'm living on my own. Until the summer camp I lived together with Alexia [Paganini] and one other female skater. But now Alexia moved to her own apartment and I'm alone now. I really enjoy that. I feel very free now, I can do whatever I want.
So you also need to cook only for yourself then. Did your cooking skills improve? I remember you once said you only eat rice when cooking on your own.
(laughing loudly) I think I improved, pretty much. I like to cook some Japanese dishes. My mom sent me some spices so that I can cook whatever I want. Sometimes we are still cooking with teammates, for example, with Deniss. And sometimes I take some food I cooked to the chalet [coach Stéphane Lambiel's house].
We all know that Deniss is an excellent cook himself. What was your favorite dish from him? What does he do best?
Everything he does is so good. But we have this routine. Whenever it's my birthday, he cooks lasagna for me. So I can say that this is my favorite food from him.
Very nice. Little fun question — who is the better cook in your opinion, Deniss or Stéph?
That's so difficult. (He takes quite some time to think.) With Stéphane we once said that Deniss is the chef. And Stéphane is the sous-chef. So, you see, they are both very good, but Deniss is, well, he's really very interested in cooking, more than Stéph.
Your English became really good. Did you somehow study the language additionally or did you just pick it up?
I didn't study too much English, to be honest. I learned it from Stéphane, and also from Deniss. And sometimes I still don't know some words, then I search for them on Google.
What kind of music do you like to listen to in your free time?
I really like J-Pop. That's what I listen to most of the time. But I also try to listen to international music, like Ed Sheeran.
Let's finish our interview with another fun question. Many skaters have a favorite animal — Deniss's is lion, Stéphane's is ladybug or zebra. Do you have a favorite animal you feel specifically connected to?
My mom says all the time that I'm like a dog. Also, during the quarantine I talked with Kazuki Tomono and we both said that we are like dogs. It really suits my personality.
Nice. Did you ever have a dog yourself?
Yes, I have one. A poodle. He's staying in Japan with my mom.