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    Japan's men: Do they have consistency?

    It is fair to say that historically Japanese men are inconsistent performers. There are a limited number of famous Japanese men, and they have competed under a variety coaches-- ranging from Canadians, Russians, to the Satos--at the senior level. Because of the limited number of men we have to compare, I don't know if there are any trends or commonalities. But why have the Japanese men had year-to-year results that make them seem like headcases and underachievers--from Takeshi Honda onward?

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    The men in Japan just began to make history in figure skating world in recent years.
    The Worlds champion is only one in 2010 and there is no Olympic champion yet.
    I think that still evaluating their achievements is too early.

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    Japan has capitalized on the mid 2000's and has shown their almost endless supply of new talents works for their advantage which other countries are lacking at the moment in the men's field but that could change the picture in the next 4 years olympic cycle

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheIronLady View Post
    But why have the Japanese men had year-to-year results that make them seem like headcases and underachievers--from Takeshi Honda onward?
    I wouldn’t call a (controversial!) 2nd and a 3rd place finish of the Japanese guys at last year’s Worlds exactly results proving underachievement of the Japanese skaters.

    With regards to Takashi Honda, I wouldn’t call him underachiever as well. Don’t forget that he competed almost during his entire career in the Yagudin/Plushenko era, so winning two bronze medals at Worlds isn’t a bad result (actually I think he was pretty lucky to grab the bronze in 2002). I think Takeshi Honda was simply kind of unlucky with his timing – he was a great technician, but when he was young he wasn’t as artistic as some other skaters (just compare his MITIM to Yagudin’s), and when he just started to develop it and began to open up more emotionally, injury set in and that right at that time when Japan started to develop an almost crazy depth of upcoming young talented skaters, which made it difficult to catch up --> he placed only 5th at Nats in 05/06. One side note here: I personally deeply admire Daisuke Takahashi for making a comeback after a really serious injury in such a competitive male field in his own country.

    I think that many skaters develop / improve consistency with experience and that’s where Japanese men are now at a huge disadvantage, they have so many amazingly talented guys out there that even skaters which may be counted to be among the best in the world, have difficulties to make the team. Therefore they also face a lot more pressure than some other skaters in each event they enter. – Just look at Carolina Kostner, who was branded as headcase previously, but won Worlds last year in her 10th appearance on that level. Being able to compete at Worlds (or other major events) continuously certainly helps skaters to see more routine in it. In particular skaters like Kozuka or Machida in most other countries would still have a couple of years to develop (just look at Plushenko who still competes at age 30!), but with the incredible competition going on in Japan right know, it’s utmost important for these skaters to skate their best every time they compete than it is e.g. for Javier Fernandez or Patrick Chan. – Which of course adds some extra pressure.

    In addition I too think it's to early to make a final judgement on this issue. Let’s wait what will happen in the next 4-5 years.

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    I think sometimes people use the very very rare skaters who always hold it together and are always consistent as a barometer to all others. So compared to Plushenko - other skaters are inconsistent headcases. But I have come to realize that the headcases / injury affected skaters are the norm and the Terminator skaters are the exception. Compare most of the Japanese men to Joubert or Abbott for instance - two top skaters whose results are far from consistent.

    Patrick Chan's results have been fairly consistent over the past couple years - but his skating hasn't been even!

    So who are the consistent, non-head case, non-injury affected skaters?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Katarzyna View Post

    I think that many skaters develop / improve consistency with experience and that’s where Japanese men are now at a huge disadvantage, they have so many amazingly talented guys out there that even skaters which may be counted to be among the best in the world, have difficulties to make the team. Therefore they also face a lot more pressure than some other skaters in each event they enter. – Just look at Carolina Kostner, who was branded as headcase previously, but won Worlds last year in her 10th appearance on that level. Being able to compete at Worlds (or other major events) continuously certainly helps skaters to see more routine in it. In particular skaters like Kozuka or Machida in most other countries would still have a couple of years to develop (just look at Plushenko who still competes at age 30!), but with the incredible competition going on in Japan right know, it’s utmost important for these skaters to skate their best every time they compete than it is e.g. for Javier Fernandez or Patrick Chan. – Which of course adds some extra pressure.

    In addition I too think it's to early to make a final judgement on this issue. Let’s wait what will happen in the next 4-5 years.
    I think I agree with this. What I am wondering or pondering is if the Japanese skating system and media may be affecting the men and their year-to-year and event-to-event results in any negative way. It is early since the next Olympics may be more telling. Sochi may be the first time the Japanese men get to play the top contender and favorite roles. It is also true that if you look at ladies or men from any country under IJS today, there is more instability in general from big competition to big competition.

    Takeshi Honda's downs, ups, and downs were in a different era. However, the Japan Skating Federation spoke out that Honda was to blame for his failure to overcome the injury. They basically accused him of being ill-prepared and undeserving of sympathy. What was that drama all about?

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    I don't think the Japanese men of today are any less consistent than other male skaters. They're usually sharing the top of the podium with guys like Chan and Abbott, who are also known for being inconsistent. Fernandez isn't that consistent, either. The only really consistent guys in the last ten years or so were Plushenko and, to a lesser extent, Lysacek. Look at Gachinski's worlds results - 3rd all the way down to 17th (or maybe it was 18th, sorry if I'm wrong).

    I don't think the Japanese skaters in the past were that inconsistent, they just didn't have much to offer artistically and seemed basically like quad machines to me. If they landed their quads, they got good results, if they didn't and other guys did, they fell down the standings.

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    Hmmm well I would have to agree the Japanese men as a whole are underachievders.

    Takahashi has had a fine career, but probably overall achieved less than say Evan Lysacek at this point (although that is debateable as Takahashi has way more top 2 medals at Worlds, the Grand Prix final, many more international wins, and also has an Olympic medal, so maybe that all together overrides Evans Olympic Gold) despite being about 5 times more talented. Then again he was arguably robbed sometimes, like last years Worlds which almost everyone thinks he should have won, and the Olympics where despite some mistakes many think he should have won as well.

    Oda hasnt even won a World medal and as his time has clearly passed, he almost certainly never will (probably will never even be back at another Worlds) so he was definitely an underachiever.

    Kozuka hasnt followed up on his Worlds silver with anything at all, so perhaps another underachiever, although less than the other two, as he never had the potential to dominate like Takahashi arguably did.

    Honda was an underachiever. At his peak he regularly placed below Timothy Goebel in major events, despite clearly having more overall ability.

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    Although I agree that Takahashi could be considered an underachiever given that he clearly has the talent to dominate and achieve more than he already has, I think we should remember that a major part of what hobbled his career achievements was his serious knee injury in 2008 which robbed him of not only an entire season (IMO, Takahashi could have easily won Worlds in the very weak 2009 men's field) but at also adversely affected his jumps (and results) for a couple of seasons after that. It wasn't until last year Takahashi said his knee felt as comfortable as it was pre-injury.

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    However Takahashi could have easily medaled at the 2006 Olympics, should have won the 2007 Worlds but blew the short program, should have won the 2008 Worlds going away and majorly choked, I will not say anything about his 2010-2011 performance which were commendable given his recovery from injury which I concur with you on, messed up the short program which cost him the GP final and Worlds last season, even if he was robbed of winning them anyway. Lots of messed up opportunities, practically any major event he was in even excluding the 2009-2011 period (where ironically his only World title thus far came anyway).

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    Yeah, I agree that Takahashi clearly gave away a bunch of chances, but who hasn't done the same? Even Plushenko who is crazy consistent could have easily won 2000 Worlds, 2002 Olympics, 2004 Euros, 2010 Olympics, etc., if he didn't screw up in one way or another. Anyway, as others have pointed out, he's no better/no worse in the consistency department than the likes of Chan, Lambiel, Joubert, Buttle, Verner, Abbott, Fernandez, Weir, etc.,--i.e. the vast majority of his competitors.

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    They're not individually consistent, but they are consistent as a country - you can expect to see Japanese men winning GP events and being on the world podium, but it may not be the ones you expect (eg, Tatsuki Machida).

    Some of them are super-inconsistent though, much more so than someone like Lambiel. Lambiel at least you could always expect to see in the top 10. Kozuka went from silver at Worlds to 11th to not even making the team. Oda made the top 10 at the Olympics and failed to qualify to the free at Worlds the same year!

    Takahashi is fairly consistent I'd say - always makes the team (not insignificant with the level of competition in Japan), generally in the top 5, always in the top 10. Hanyu might be but it's too early to tell.

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    Quote Originally Posted by judgejudy27 View Post
    However Takahashi could have easily medaled at the 2006 Olympics, should have won the 2007 Worlds but blew the short program, should have won the 2008 Worlds going away and majorly choked, I will not say anything about his 2010-2011 performance which were commendable given his recovery from injury which I concur with you on, messed up the short program which cost him the GP final and Worlds last season, even if he was robbed of winning them anyway. Lots of messed up opportunities, practically any major event he was in even excluding the 2009-2011 period (where ironically his only World title thus far came anyway).
    Quote Originally Posted by Cherub721 View Post
    They're not individually consistent, but they are consistent as a country - you can expect to see Japanese men winning GP events and being on the world podium, but it may not be the ones you expect (eg, Tatsuki Machida).

    Some of them are super-inconsistent though, much more so than someone like Lambiel. Lambiel at least you could always expect to see in the top 10. Kozuka went from silver at Worlds to 11th to not even making the team. Oda made the top 10 at the Olympics and failed to qualify to the free at Worlds the same year!

    Takahashi is fairly consistent I'd say - always makes the team (not insignificant with the level of competition in Japan), generally in the top 5, always in the top 10. Hanyu might be but it's too early to tell.

    Actually, until now, Takahashi hasn't made the podium a grand total of five times since the 2006-07 season (and of course not counting the year he was out due to his injury): Worlds 2008 (4th), NHK Trophy 2009 (4th), GPF 2009 (5th), GPF 2010 (4th) and Worlds 2011 (5th)

    That's not even taking in account the fact that his 2009-10 and 2010-11 results were influenced by him still having to reconstruct his technic after his 2008 injury (actually, that's true of his 2011-2012 results as well, to a lesser extent, since he's only got his quad back in late 2011-early 2012), or that his Worlds 2011 result is also partially explained by his lost screw incident (although admitedly he was in no position to beat Chan who was just stronger that year)

    Somehow, I think that's actually fairly consistent results, especially considering the circumstances. But then again I am a fan so.....

    As for Lambiel being consistant: yes, but he never had to fight in his own country for a spot on the World team - he could have not skated and would still be qualified. That's a huge pressure that he's never had to face. Kozuka's failure to make the team this year can also partially be explained by the fact that he was skating injured at JP Nats (he would probably have had a fair chance of beating Mura otherwise, although that wouldn't have been certain). Of all the better known Japanese skaters of the Takahashi generation and later, Oda is probably the most inconsistent, but he was nonethless very close from making the team and is back from injury as well this season, so I wouldn't call his JP nats outing a failure either. It's just that Mura was very good, with Hanyu and Takahashi on another planet altogether. In that environment, Lambiel would probably have found it a little difficult to qualify for a spot on the team as well....

    On the other hand, I'd really love to see a definition of what a "headcase" or an "inconsistant" skater, or even a major choke is. As far as I am concerned I think most skaters cited on this thread (and not just the Japanese ones) have "normal careers", namely with an alternance of very good moments and some less so. They are strong enough in their head to reach the very top or at least get very close, but sometimes their mind, their heart, or their body, is not completely in it and their results suffer as a consequence. In that regard, I am totally with The Accordion above when they pointed out that hugely consistent skaters are the exception rather than the rule - which makes the accomplishments over they years of someone like Plushenko all the more deserving of respect
    Last edited by rayhaneh; 01-07-2013 at 07:00 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rayhaneh View Post
    Actually, until now, Takahashi hasn't made the podium a grand total of five times since the 2006-07 season (and of course not counting the year he was out due to his injury): Worlds 2008 (4th), NHK Trophy 2009 (4th), GPF 2009 (5th), GPF 2010 (4th) and Worlds 2011 (5th)
    Thanks, I did not realize that. I thought he had been 6th or 7th in 2011. So I can actually say Takahashi has generally been on the podium, and has been in the top 5 in every competition for the last 5 years. That's as consistent as Lambiel, and just about any other guy.

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    Maybe it just me... but COP skaters are not consistent as a rule. Other than Plushenko, who is there?
    "I hit him with my shoes... if he had given me the medal like I told him to, I wouldn't have had to hit him!" -- 8-year-old Rhoda Penmark in "The Bad Seed"

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    Brian Joubert? He may not be consistent, but five straight world podiums and the last 100% win season (06/07). In five competitions/ten programs, he fell only once. But yeah - COP skaters tend not to be as consistent compared to the peak 6.0 skaters.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Katarzyna View Post
    I wouldn’t call a (controversial!) 2nd and a 3rd place finish of the Japanese guys at last year’s Worlds exactly results proving underachievement of the Japanese skaters.

    With regards to Takashi Honda, I wouldn’t call him underachiever as well. Don’t forget that he competed almost during his entire career in the Yagudin/Plushenko era, so winning two bronze medals at Worlds isn’t a bad result (actually I think he was pretty lucky to grab the bronze in 2002). I think Takeshi Honda was simply kind of unlucky with his timing – he was a great technician, but when he was young he wasn’t as artistic as some other skaters (just compare his MITIM to Yagudin’s), and when he just started to develop it and began to open up more emotionally, injury set in and that right at that time when Japan started to develop an almost crazy depth of upcoming young talented skaters, which made it difficult to catch up --> he placed only 5th at Nats in 05/06. One side note here: I personally deeply admire Daisuke Takahashi for making a comeback after a really serious injury in such a competitive male field in his own country.

    I think that many skaters develop / improve consistency with experience and that’s where Japanese men are now at a huge disadvantage, they have so many amazingly talented guys out there that even skaters which may be counted to be among the best in the world, have difficulties to make the team. Therefore they also face a lot more pressure than some other skaters in each event they enter. – Just look at Carolina Kostner, who was branded as headcase previously, but won Worlds last year in her 10th appearance on that level. Being able to compete at Worlds (or other major events) continuously certainly helps skaters to see more routine in it. In particular skaters like Kozuka or Machida in most other countries would still have a couple of years to develop (just look at Plushenko who still competes at age 30!), but with the incredible competition going on in Japan right know, it’s utmost important for these skaters to skate their best every time they compete than it is e.g. for Javier Fernandez or Patrick Chan. – Which of course adds some extra pressure.

    In addition I too think it's to early to make a final judgement on this issue. Let’s wait what will happen in the next 4-5 years.


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