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Interview with Mao and message from Coach Sato

Discussion in 'Great Skate Debate' started by Batsuchan, Sep 30, 2010.

  1. Batsuchan

    Batsuchan Active Member

    The latest "Mao-rashiku" (Mao-like) column in the Asahi newspaper has been posted. It features a long interview with Mao and what seems to be text from Coach Nobuo Sato.

    Here's my translation...



    At 20, I’ll jump more

    “I guess I really was more carefree when I was skating back then. Because even though there was a competition, I’d do things like go to the Beijing Zoo and see the pandas.”

    ---In the beginning of September, she was invited to an ice show in Beijing. It’s the city where she had her first senior international competition when she was 15. Once again, she was able to find that innocent feeling.

    “Five years ago, just being able to skate with the skaters I watched on TV was fun. Now, my mindset is totally different. I have been able to medal at many competitions, and being at the top means you’re in a position to be chased. It’s the opposite from 5 years ago. But my feelings alone have stayed the same—my feeling that I love to skate, that skating is fun. That is the only thing I don’t want to forget.”

    ---Although she messed up her jumps at the beginning of last season, she won a silver medal at the Vancouver Olympics, and she won the World Championships for a second time. On the 25th, she faces her 20th birthday.

    “It’s truly a new start. It’s the first season of my twenties. It’s the next step after the Vancouver Olympics. During the Olympic season, I pretty much accomplished all of my goals. I was able to realize that if you work hard, the results will come. Of course, I’m not completely satisfied. Because if I were completely satisfied, it would be the end.”

    ---In June, she took a trip to Hawaii. Since she started skating seriously at age 5, it was the first vacation when she didn’t take her skates.

    “After the Vancouver Olympics finished, I decided that I absolutely wanted to go to Hawaii. I did all the planning. One day we went shopping, we went to the pool, we walked around the town feeling like we’d become Hawaiians, we admired the ocean… Before I started skating, my best memory is going to Hawaii with my whole family. When we went, I think I was about 3 years old. It had been a really long time, so I was really able to relax.”

    ---Now she’s back at the beginning. In order to rework her jumps once again, she received jump lessons from Hiroshi Nagakubo starting in June. He once coached 2006 Torino Olympic gold medalist Shizuka Arakawa.

    “In the beginning, we started with the form of the jumps and the takeoff position. While gradually increasing the rotations from single to double to triple, we reworked my jumps from the foundation. The speed of my rotation was slow, my approach as slow, in general, he told me, “You’re slow.” I think that compared to when we started, my jumps have solidified quite a bit. Even so, if I compare them to the level I want to achieve, I’d say I’m at step 5 of 10. However, I started this training because I wanted to make my jumps even better, so I think that if I continue training like this, it’ll be okay.”

    ---She is the only woman who has the ability to do a triple axel, but she has struggled with the lutz and the salchow, which are considered easier.

    “For now, I’ve been doing all the different types of jumps with the intention of putting them in my programs this season. Instead of just doing the axel, if I can increase my jump variety, then I can come up with jump layouts that are more advantageous for me. I have no regrets about my jump layout last season, and even if I have regrets in the future, it can’t be helped. What I learned from my experiences last season is that in the end, I’ll absolutely be able to do it, and it’ll be okay. So while focusing on next year, and the year after that, I want to take on new challenges.”

    ---In the beginning of September, she decided on her main coach: Nobuo Sato, who is in the World [skating] hall of fame. He is known for his thorough lessons on skating basics.

    “Nobuo-sensei was able to win 10 Japan National Championships in a row, so he is someone with a lot of experience. I want to learn a lot about his experiences up to now. Figure skating is not just about the jumps, so I want him to look at my skating and other areas.”


    Mao Asada has made a fresh start as she heads toward the 2014 Sochi Olympics. We will share her thoughts about “challenges” in a special edition.

    Going forward, taking breaks will also be important—Coach Nobuo Sato

    I accepted [the coaching offer] just before the season started, so honestly, I am giving her lessons now while I’ll still trying to figure out how to instruct her. Even though I have been a coach for over 40 years, the prospect of teaching a skater who has already been World Champion twice is really somewhat “frightening.”

    For her part, she is full of the desire to learn and absorb all kinds of things. So she listens carefully to what I say. However, she has had her own way of doing things up to now, so I can’t suddenly say something about her jumps or give her instructions on the small details. There’s no time before the season starts, so while I watch her practice, I give her small suggestions about things I notice.

    I asked Asada to be sure to take a break once a week. As a teenager, you are able to keep skating without feeling fatigued, but once you enter your 20s, rest is important. Before the competition, you’ll practice a lot more, so in the end, the practice amount will be the same. So I told her to please listen to my advice about her practice pace. I haven’t had a chance to have her practice with Takahiko (Kozuka, who I am also teaching), but I think it would be good motivation for her to practice with a male skater.


    Nobuo Sato. Born in January 1942 in Osaka. Competed in two Olympics. After retiring, he led his daughter, Yuka Sato, to a gold medal at the World Championships, and he has also taught Miki Ando and Fumie Suguri.


    I have to admit, I am tickled by the thought of Mao and Kozuka practicing together. Too cute! :D

    No matter what happens this season, I'm glad to see that Mao has faith that things will turn out ok in the end. And I'm also glad that she wants to remember her love of skating above all.

    Go Mao!! :cheer2:
    PeterG, kwanfan1818, alilou and 3 others like this.
  2. Rondoboy

    Rondoboy New Member

    Wow! Thank you for translating, Butsuchan.
    I heard that there was a good read about Mao and her new coach Nobuo Sato in Asahi Shimbun dated September 24th, and I was hoping someone would post it (-translation of the article-) here. Thanks for sharing!

    The Asahi Shimbun is the second most circulated national newspaper in Japan and I like the way they put the ariticle in. It appears to be honest and does not contain any misleading remarks (...unlike the one in a widely-known weekly tabroid...:D)

    It is impressing that Mao has never made any negative nor controvercial comments for years. She was very positive toward upcoming season, and she showed her respect to both of the coaches. She sounded very appreciative for Mr. Nagakubo's instruction in reworing her jumping technics, IMO. I love this girl for her class act and competitiveness, not to mention her beautiful skating:encore:

    And, I am looking forward to seeing Mao and Takahiko practice togeter!;)
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2010
    kirarinne likes this.
  3. galaxy

    galaxy Active Member

    Thanks a lot for the translation , Batsuchan. It is a long interview and you did a great job. Very excellent and beautiful translation.

    So she learned a lot from Coach Nagakubo and their work together seems to have gone pretty fruitful.
  4. ioana

    ioana Well-Known Member

    Thank you very much for translating this!

    I always think it's interesting to see skaters who already have very good basics still want to work on them. OTOH, it takes skaters who struggle with transitions years and years to admit that and work on improving. Guess it just goes to show the same attention to detail that makes skaters want to work on edges and turns is the reason why they're good at it --slight OCD comes in handy :p

  5. peibeck

    peibeck Simply looking

    I am glad that Sato wants her to take some additional time for herself physically and mentally. I'm glad she's working on re-adding the lutz and salchow to her programs again as well and not just relying on the 3A so much.
  6. onionviper

    onionviper New Member

    Tks Batsuchan, I read another translation, but the part with Mr. Sato was wrong in that one :)
    PeterG and (deleted member) like this.
  7. hongligl

    hongligl New Member

    I like Mao more and more. I want to see more of her joys and grace on ice. That carefree Mao was so lovely and adorable. Now she's more mature and more graceful. I hope a great four-year cycle for Mao!
  8. nubka

    nubka Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the translation!
  9. smarts1

    smarts1 Well-Known Member

    Does anyone wonder if Mao would have stayed with Nagakubo if Akiko wasn't with him?
  10. ChibiChibi

    ChibiChibi Active Member

    Maybe it's the other way around. Mr. Nagakubo might have agreed to be Mao's main coach if Akiko had retired after last season.