I cried every day during the championship
The Japanese student of the Russian coach Nikolai Morozov won a competition in Moscow 2nd time this season : in November she won the Grand Prix on the same rink where now she became the world champion. If taking into an account the last year's Grand Prix she won one can say she's lucky in Moscow.
EV: Miki, is it true you were going to take a year off and perhaps retire altogether?
Ando: Am not sure of that anymore. First I wanted to miss a year after the Vancouver, but after the Olympics were over I changed my mind. Nikolai (Morozov) convinced me it will be silly and not quite fair to the Japanese fans since the 2011 world championships was supposed to take place in Tokyo.
EV: Why did the thought to skip a year crossed your mind at the first placE?
Ando: I'm just tired. Figure skating started to overwhelm me. There was nothing new anymore and I thought a break will allow me to rest and find a motivation to train and compete.
EV: You've been the world champion before, in 2007. Can you compare those wins?
Ando: Now was harder. In 2007 I was injured right before the competition and for two weeks I couldn't' skate altogether. Hence I didn't' set my goal on medals. Winning there was a complete surprise.
However, this year I realized I can be on the podium. It was the goal that made me work. But mentally tit was very hard.
EV: Starting this autumn you won every competition you entered except for GPF, but nevertheless, you were only hoping to medal at the Worlds, not win it?
And: I don't like thinking of the medals in general. The only thing that matters is how well can you perform you programmes. The quality. When I realize I did everything I could at the competition I don't care where the judges will place me. It doesn't matter what my score is. To be satisfied with your skate is much more important that winning a medal by chance.
Right now it's very important for me to make Japan proud of me. It's a very hard time for my country. Many people died, some are still looking for their relatives. The only thing we can do for Japan now is to make Japanese people proud of us and put a smile on someone's face. I think any Japanese skater would tell you the same. It means much more to us than a gold medal.
EV: You looked different than usually on the ice. As if you were overwhelmed with the emotions but were not happy about it.
Ando: It's not so easy to look happy at the competition or even smile. Everyone are nervous, very concentrated on their programmes. I wasn't even trying to smile. It's personal, but I am going through a hard period in my life. I can admit I cried every day during the competition. Perhaps some of that mood was unintentionally transferred to my skating.
EV: Did your victory change anything on that department? In other words - are you going to continue crying?
Ando: I hope not.
EV: You became the world champion, yet your long programme skate was not the best. Why?
Ando: I was too tired. Of everything. The work, the personal matters. But I showed the maximum am capable of right now. It's good I didn't make any major mistakes. In such a competition it's very important.
EV: Were you surprised by a mediocre skate by Yuna Kim?
Ando: It might sound weird, but I don't pay attention to how the other skaters skated. YuNa included. It's none of my business. Besides, I can't give marks to the other skaters. Every skater has something they can do the others cant't. We are all very different, as the countries, people, languages and traditions differ.
EV: Your coach have been working in Russia for a while. How hard is it to spend so much time in a foreign country?
Ando: Quite hard. I like it here, but I don't speak Russian. Being surrounded by foregn language speakers all the time is challenging. I already went though something similar when I just started training in Morozov's group in the USA. Back then I didn't know any English either. First of all Nikolai made me learn the language. Only later I realize how right he was - with the new words I gained new friends, I learned now things, discovered the new culture.
Now again I'm trying to learn the language as fast as possible. I try to speak, to listen to what and how the other people speak.
EV: For how many years have you been training with Morozov?
Ando : Five.
EV: So you do remember the times when Takahasi skated in the same group and later Oda? It must have been easier for you having someone to speak Japanese to?
Ando: It's funny, but now we speak mainly English among us. And with Kozuka.
Ando: Don't know. But that's the way it is. I realized I only speak my mother tongue when participating the Japanese shows or when going to Japan for other reasons.
EV: Back to the previous theme: are you still planning to take a year off?
Ando: I can certainly say I'll try to skate till the Sochi Olympics. I.e. even if I take a break it won't be for a long while and I will come back. Only after that I will think what do I want to do for the rest of my life. Whether it is to coach kids, work in something not related to figure skating or perform in the shows.
EV: Sochi will be your third Olympics. What can you say about the first two? Is it a special kind of experience?
Ando: I can't say much on Turin - I was just 19 and I didn't quite understand what was going on around me. Just tried to see as much as possible, had fan and was very proud being an Olympian. In Vancouver things were different. I tried to skate as well as I did at any other competition. I didn't see much difference between the Olympics and the others. I became 5th. Hey ho, 5th it is.
EV: When you perform it's hard to tell which is more interesting to watch you or how your coach skates with you. Do you have time to watch your coach while performing? Can you hear him?
Ando: It's very important for me that Nikolai is there. If he is not there for some reason I probably will not be able to skate at all. I'm not trying to see what is he doing during my skate but I know he is right behind me. He projects a huge energy and I feel it. I become stronger and more confident.
I also trust him completely. As a coach, as a person. It was very nice to hear him saying he trusts me when I'm on the ice.
EV: Is it a problem for you the bad relationship between Morozov and the Japanese federation?
Ando: No, its' none of my business
EV: I heard the federation was trying to convince you to switch the coaches.
Ando: Yes, it happened. All of the sudden I was told Nikolai was a bad coach, a bad choreographer and a collaboration with him is a big mistake
EV: When did that happen?
Ando: Not long before the 2009 Worlds in Los Angeles. I didn't understand at all what was going on. For two years I practically didn't have any contact with the national federation. They were not interested in me in 2007 when I won the worlds and even less so when because of the back injurie I pulled out from the championship in Goteborg. Now one came to my practices, no one asked whether I needed any help. So before Los Angeles i was a bit surprised to get all that attention from my country
EV: I've heard a lot of skaters saying Mozov is very different in his coaching approach
Ando: It's true
EV: What do you have in mind when saying `special'? And what do you think is the most important thing you learned from him?
Ando: Nikolai gave me a big heart. To love figure skating means to fight in order to understand what am I skating for. It's no t that easy to explain, I had the similar feeling only at the beginning when I first started skating. It just happened that my friends took me to the ice. My mother was too busy, my father died when I was 8y.o and the first coach managed to make me feel happy on the ice. Being with Nikolai makes me happy