November 10, 2010
By Yukiko Sawaguchi
Photos © Yukiko Sawaguchi
The junior competition started today with the ladies and men’s short programs. I also had a chance to catch up with some of the senior ladies: Miko Ando, Kanako Murakami and Akiko Suzuki.
Interview with Miki Ando
How is the ice here and your condition?
It’s hard, so I was struggling to get used to it in the first half of training, but it was getting better during the second half. Judging by how my practice went, I couldn’t say I was in good shape. I want to be 100% ready by the start of the competition including my control on the ice.
Can you say you are 100% ready now?
I’m not sure, my condition is changing day by day so maybe not.
How is your back injury?
It’s getting a bit better, it’s ok if I wear the corset.
You recently changed your SP music and skated a run-through here to the new music. How do you feel about your decision?
It’s only been two weeks since I changed it and I haven’t competed since then. I am looking forward to receiving a good reaction from the judges.
What made you change the program?
We received 50:50 pros and cons about my short program from the international judges and in order to make it more accessible and earn better scores, we decided to change the music. Physically speaking, it is much easier for me to perform. Even for a male skater, the previous choreography consisted of energy-consuming movements. When my training mate mimicked my program, he said it was quite tough. Because the new music is to a slow rhythm, I have more time before and after each element. Personally, I like this music better.
Did you pick the new music?
No, Nikolai did.
This is the 6th time you have qualified for the GPF, but you have never won the title. Are you aiming for gold here?
My motto in skating always remains the same. I skate to the feeling as I am.
I also appreciate the warm support from the Chinese audience, which I received every time I skated in China.
Interview with Kanako Murakami, the brightest hope of Japan
Yesterday you were the only Japanese skater on the ice but today two veterans joined you at practice. How do you feel?
Yesterday I was a bit nervous because I was alone, but I feel so relieved today because we are all together.
Have you got used to the ice here?
I’m more used to it now than I was yesterday, I feel much better on the ice today.
Are you getting nervous as your first senior GPF competition is getting closer?
Although I am not nervous at all, I can feel the distinct tension that a real competition creates. Besides, Miki and Akiko are very kind to me, I feel so safe when competing.
Is it your first time in China?
Yes, and I’m surprised by the static electricity, I had more than ten electric shocks in one day!
Are you confident about competing with other fully experienced skaters?
Yes, I am.
What is your resource of the confidence?
I believe that good practice will be fruitful and bring good results. If I skate with confidence, I’m sure that the results will also naturally follow.
What did you think of the two Grand Prix events you participated in?
There were many challenges to tackle in the previous two competitions and this time I want to take if further and push myself. I want to skate perfectly! [As Kanako said this, the term ‘perfect’ was suggested not to be used by the accompanying JSF member as a ‘perfect’ skate is the well-known trademark phrase of Mao Asada before a competition].
This is your third time at the GPF including juniors. Mao Asada won her first GPF title the first time she qualified.
Her past result doesn’t really matter to me. My confidence is based on my abundant training. If I allow myself, I can very easily get nervous and end to up with a bad performance like at the NHK Trophy. So I try not to think about it. I believe that skating in the real competition doesn’t change at all with the daily practice. That’s what I believe.
Here are some comments from Akiko Suzuki, ahead of tomorrow’s competition:
I competed at Cup of China and Cup of Russia, but I couldn’t perform well enough to really be satisfied with myself. So I focused my training on peaking at this competition. I have good memories of China having skated well here last year. And the atmosphere at this venue is one of my favorites.
I want to show the audience good skating in my style. There are things to improve from the last two competitions, where I couldn’t keep up throughout the long program and my performance got messy in the latter half. So I want to get over it.
I don’t feel too different from last year when I skated in China. Qualifying for the GPF for the second time has had a sobering effect on me. Last year I was just happy that I could skate at a GPF, moreover stand on the podium, which gave me a lot of confidence. However I will consciously set my goal to stand on the podium this year.
To have my name acknowledged by the international judges, I need to skate well all the time and my coach reminds me of this very often.
I feel very satisfied with the circumstances I‘m in now. I am aware that I’m getting more ambitious and this feeling drives me to practice much harder which leads me to be more focused during practice. So far I haven’t accomplished satisfactory performances for both the short and long program. If I could do that, I think the result will follow.
Junior Ladies Highlights
In the ladies competition, Polina Sheleepen skated to Swan Lake. She landed her triple Lutz – triple toe combination, triple Lutz and double Axel as planned but lacked speed during her flying sit spin, step sequences and overall skating. With a score of 53.26, she is in third place.
At the press conference, Polina said she was happy about landing the triple triple combination but couldn’t get the Level 4 on her spin as intended. She also congratulated her fellow Russian contestants in the top two spots, saying everyone can be happy of their performances today.
Risa Shouji who skated to a Piazzolla Tango landed her triple Salchow – triple toeloop combination, which was very clean and elegant. Her triple loop was also clean with a soft landing and she showed great flexibility in her combination spin. It really was a flawless performance. Has the successor of Mao Asada and Miki Ando finally appeared? This was an utterly Wow performance and a new star has risen. Surprisingly Risa only earned 52.56 as the 3 loop was judged as underrotated.
Elizaveta Tukutamisheva skated to an oriental selection of music. Her triple Lutz in the first part of her combination was double footed, but a double toe followed. Elizaveta showed a beautiful layback spin but overall this wasn’t her best performance. Eizaveta goes into the long program in second place. “I didn’t skate well today, but I think I can show a better performance in the long program tomorrow.”
Adelina Sotonikova leads the ladies’s short program with 57.27 points. Her triple Lutz – triple toe combination was downgraded due to an edge call. Adelina also showed a triple loop and double Axel. “Tomorrow I’d like to show things I couldn’t do today”. This was Adelina’s first junior final and asked about the Russian ladies getting stronger she said: “Two years ago I already competed at senior nationals but our age didn’t allow us to compete at the Grand Prix, we were twelve years old then and are now fourteen.”
Junior Men Highlights
In the junior men’s event, Max Aaron skated to Tango de Roxane. He landed a very clean triple Axel and triple Lutz – triple toe combination but had a shaky landing on the triple loop. Overall, he had a very stable skate and earned 63.78 points.
Richard Dornbush skated to Elena, it was his second time at a JGPF and he landed all his planned jumps. He is currently in first place with a score of 70.75.
Keegan Messing skated to the soundtrack of Robin Hood. He showed a solid triple Axel, triple Lutz – triple toe combination and a triple loop. For me he was one of the most impressive skaters today as looks like a skater who has the so-called total package. He earned 1.86 GOE for his triple Axel, wrapped up his performance with elegant moves and came second overall.
Han Yan was skated to Time Club, he is in third place with 67.29 points. Wow, his triple flip – triple toe combination was so high! It was followed by a smooth triple loop. Han Yan has everything to be a great skater - smooth skating, flexibility, high jumps, cute looks…but a triple Axel. He is one of the most impressive skaters I’ve ever seen.
We have to wait until Saturday to see the junior men’s final, but the ladies will be skating their free programs tomorrow. And of course the senior competition will start tomorrow, too. Check in for more news then!