Shoma Uno's Training - R-Sport discussion w/Inna Goncharentko and A. Samokhvalov

Tinami Amori

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Discussion about Shoma Uno and Tutberidze by sports journalist Anatoly Samokhvalov and coach Inna Goncharenkov.
By Abatoly Samokhvalova. R-Sport. 06-10-19
(lots of figuratives, not all translated exactly as said)

Editorial: Olympic 2018 Silver medalist, Shoma Uno is off to join the training camp of the Russian coach, Eteri Tutberidze. Anatoly Samokhvalov is certain, that the Japanese skater is there to stay, and jointly with the Honored Coach of Russia, Inna Goncharenko, they discuss why a highly titled skater may need the russian-style high-demand level training.

AS: Monotonously and unhurried, Shoma Uno bounced an orange basketball against the dusky-colored floor. Five meters away, as if keeping guard, stood one of Mihoko Higuchi’s assistant coach. The eyes of the Olympic silver medal holder reflected either hopelessness or disdain. He showed no reactions to the passersby.

While I stood watching Alina Zagitova’s practice, some guy ran past me, snagging me with his shoulder. “Excuse me, sir!” – I turn around and see a head of wavy hair, paisley eyes and a bright youthful smile. Nathan Chen just apologized to me. And there was Uno, not too far away, laying down motionless on an exercise pad… with the same, painfully sad look… in front of the assistant coach.

This self-grinding meditation was enough for Uno to win Silver, coming second only behind Chen, at the Grand Prix Final in the Vancouver’s Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre. And yet again, he missed a rather easy salchow, under-rotated a flip, and a month later at Worlds in his home arena in Japan, stood off the podium. He graciously parted with his coach Higuchi, and is now to arrive at Tutberdize’s training camp. What for?

It’s quite clear that somebody like Uno is able to compete on equal footing with Chen and Hanyu, but what can Tutberidze do for him?

To discuss this topic I took the liberty of distracting Inna Goncharenko from family and summer gardening, as she still diligently follows figure skating.

IG: The main benefit that Shoma will receive from Tutberidze first of all – is from her training system – the result of which is high stability. Uno is going for the same result as we see in girls who train in “Krystalniy”. This Japanese young man has amazing abilities, but he is not that young. He is about the same age as Samarin. Uno is accomplished. He is talented and unique; with ambition. Yet he the kind who either gives “an out of this world performance”, or to make “a prohibitive mistake and fall on an axel”. As I see it, Shoma is looking for ways to obtain that reinforced-concrete stability; that sense that once you learned something, it is permanent, and nothing else.

AS: Tutberidze on several occasions pointed out the benefits of Asian mind set when it comes to training. She once said in an interview with Andrey Simonenko, “they are raised in such a way that they don’t question (their coaches); not even in their minds. That while our athletes dig into their doubts, Asian athletes just go and do it.” There is doubt that, with Higuchi, Uno also “went and did it”, just as he repetitively bounced the basketball on the arena’s floor, until he finished that set of training.
IG: It is not possible to suspect Shoma of cutting corners in training, I remember him since he was a junior. Already then he was a hard working kid, a hard working and goal oriented athlete, and that is why he is seeking an environment he is inclined towards, but lost somewhere in the process. It is logical that he is addressing Tutberidze, who is at the top.

AS: How well do you think Shoma Uno would be able to handle Tutberidze’s system?
IG: That’s an interesting question. Certainly the system he will encounter is radically different from the one that he had in Japan. He and his coach had an extremely warm relationship. Perhaps he wants to change the routine of such, and seeks a more demanding environment. A master such as he is, should perform not driven by super-emotions, but by high-level athletic abilities.

AS: In the same interview with Simonenko, Tutberidze also said “Also in Japan they understood, that they do need to enclose themselves in their own country, and not just in Japan but in Asia in general. Not to hint at anything negative, but most of them at one point went abroad to practice their careers.”
IG: The competition between figure skating clubs inside their own countries – is an interesting experience. Earlier it was Alexei Mishin who was the face of Russian figure skating. Now it is Tutberidze. Japanese and Americans stood out with their signature methods. Uno – is a finished product of the Japanese figure skating school. The fact that he is a Japanese skater apparent not by his face, but how handles the blade. Gracefulness, fluidity, such precise and purely Japanese blade work. How he maybe influenced by Tutberidze’s system is interesting to me as a professional. What will come of it? Most likely “not worst than what it is now” at minimum. Because Tutberidze will be working with some one who is a complete well-rounded professional, with a pedigree and a passport that proves it. He is that unique, one of a kind Japanese creation, which still proudly displays that enticing “Made in Japan” stamp, and not a mass-production label from a newly built factory in Shenzhen or Guangzhou.

What is required of Tutberidze is simply fine tuning and a change of tires. Is it not true? It will not be worst for sure. Because he is already a mature athlete, self propelling and motivated. He does not need to be taught how tie laces. However, the new climate, adopting to the new environment will take some time. Arriving one day and jumping to success the next does not happen.

AS: He and Tutberidze have time until the next Olympics.
IG: Men singles, by the way, is the easiest discipline to predict for the Olympics. It will be a collection of quads of maximum difficulty, and the one who will win, will be the one with least mistakes. And Tutberidze is capable of building such a solid concrete base.

Eteri always aims towards the most difficult. If her girls already are doing the most difficult quad jumps, then her expectations for the guys are likely to be at maximum. And somehow she knows how to accomplish.

AS: At the same time, Morris Kvitelashvili has been living at Krystalny for a long time, and yet he performs rather average elements, receiving average placements, and nobody expects anything extra-ordinary from him.
IG: I know Morris from childhood. This person has an uncommon mentality, and given the structure of his nervous system he achieves, in my opinion, excellent results. Try to remember Morris before he came to Tutberidze, and what he is now. In any other coach’s hands he would not accomplish more.

AS: Do you think Uno is going to Tutberidze to learn how to win from Chen and Hanyu?
IG: Yes, of course. I think his decision was affected by example and the situation with Evgeniya Medvedeva, which was widely discussed. Many people made their observations and conclusions. I believe it played a role in Shoma’s selection process for the training system. I am only making a prediction, but it seems he decided that preparations for the next Olympics maybe best accomplished by Tutberidze’s methods.

AS: What challenges will Tutberidze face herself?
IG: An athlete of Shoma’s level will require a lot of personal/individual approach. I mean, training time and space, both. You can’t let him skate with little kids. The coach herself will undergo a certain transformation, after which we will see very interesting and colorful performances of the skater.

AS: Does Uno needs more of Tutberidze or of Sergey Dudakov, who is now a legendary specialist?
IG: Uno’s technical skills are superb, plus tailored personally for him. He is of specific height, with specific coordination. He first of all needs not to work on technique, but to train in a strict environment, with more demands, than what he had.

AS: Facing difficulties, Shoma Uno did not take a break in his career, did not start telling the world about his psychological difficulties, did not threaten with “professional hara-kiri” claiming to be misunderstood by people, did not travel to Canada to the smiling Orser, where one needs to design his own plans and conditions and work them out with the coach; He decided to place his head under Tutberidze’s smile in hope to receive hard-core schooling and hopefully the Gold in Peking.
IS: I don’t feel any negatives in this situation. Now there will be “our Japanese” at the competitions.

Editorial: … and that’s how Inna Goncharova summed up this conversation before returning to her tomato garden.
***
 

Alez

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love all Inna Goncharenko's interview in the recent year!

The shade at Zhenya by this Anatoly Samokhvalov at his last question tho...
 

aftershocks

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Hmmm, but Eteri is not known for being a superior technical coach, and some of Shoma's problems are related to faulty technique, no? The below comment sounds a bit sketchy:

"He first of all needs not to work on technique, but to train in a strict environment, with more demands, than what he had."


Possibly, Uno can benefit by the training intensity of Eteri's approach, but we shall see. This is an unexpected decision by Uno. But I suppose it's best to make a change when things are not working, and when you still have time and resources to further develop.

Ah well. So I see it's announced as 'summer camp' training. Last year, Kolyada experienced summer camp with Raf. This year, I recently read that Matteo Rizzo will be taking summer camp training with Brian Orser. So, in that sense, I suppose this move by Shoma Uno is part of a new trend for skaters in the off-season. The question is: Has Uno split with his Japanese coach for good? If so, then who will be coaching him when the season starts?
 
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ostile17

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Hmmm, but Eteri is not known for being a superior technical coach, and some of Shoma's problems are related to faulty technique, no? The below comment sounds a bit sketchy:

"He first of all needs not to work on technique, but to train in a strict environment, with more demands, than what he had."


Possibly, Uno can benefit by the training intensity of Eteri's approach, but we shall see. This is an unexpected decision by Uno. But I suppose it's best to make a change when things are not working, and when you still have time and resources to further develop.

Ah well. So I see it's announced as 'summer camp' training. Last year, Kolyada experienced summer camp with Raf. This year, I recently read that Matteo Rizzo will be taking summer camp training with Brian Orser. So, in that sense, I suppose this move by Shoma Uno is part of a new trend for skaters in the off-season. The question is: Has Uno split with his Japanese coach for good? If so, then who will be coaching him when the season starts?

He said he is ready to go coachless for a while if he can't find a new coach in time for the new season.
 

ostile17

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What?? That doesn't sound like a helpful plan. It has never worked well for any fs athlete I'm aware of.


This is the source:

He attended some awards in Nagoya on the 10th and hinted that there's a possibility he may go coachless this season. He definitely wants to find a coach within a year.
Jumps will be his main focus at the Russiam training camp, especially 4Lz and 4Lo.
After he returns to Japan he will continue to train at the Chukyo University rink.

By the way, Shoma left for Camp Tiberize today

Here's His brother Itsuki's tweet

Itsuki: “We saw him off at the airport. I’m a lot more sad this time compared to when I usually send him off.
 

Sylvia

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Tinami Amori

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What?? That doesn't sound like a helpful plan. It has never worked well for any fs athlete I'm aware of.
How is it better to go immediately from one very regimented system into another one, without taking some time to reflect? If he was ready to jump head in into another coaching situation, then yes, Eteri's camp would further his goals. If he is not sure what he wants, it then would not be a good situation for him, or "a coach", because both could fail, and failing is not what either one needs.
 

aftershocks

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Going through the first part of the season without a coach may or may not work either. There's no absolute given.

Sure Shoma can take time out to reflect and try competing on his own, while perhaps also listening to informal advice from those who will give it. I doubt he will be going it solo for long though. I've never seen it work, which is not to say it can't, but I'm skeptical.

I'm certainly not suggesting that he should remain with Eteri, regardless. Hopefully, he will benefit from the summer tenure in Eteri's camp, and find a coach he is comfortable with prior to the start of the season.
 
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Tinami Amori

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Sure Shoma can take time out to reflect and try competing on his own, while perhaps also listening to informal advice from those who will give it.
I was excited for him at first, then saw some of his fotos and videos, and read what people say about his behavior.... he is not in a solid place..
 

aftershocks

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Itsuki: “We saw him off at the airport. I’m a lot more sad this time compared to when I usually send him off.

Taken out of context, that quote is cryptic. Does Itsuki mean missing his brother more than usual, or not agreeing with the uncertainty of Shoma's coachless plans?

I was excited for him at first, then saw some of his fotos and videos, and read what people say about his behavior.... he is not in a solid place..

Ah, that's too bad. Shoma is simply out of this world talented. My view is that his precocity has been over-rewarded in ways that have not been helpful to his forward development. The sport needs to stop throwing points to talented skaters when they make sloppy mistakes on a consistent basis. There have been plenty of times where Shoma had a number of mistakes mixed in with brilliance, but the judges simply showered him with points, when he didn't expect it, thus sending a very wrong message.

That kind of action by judges in the long run is NOT helpful to skaters' confidence, especially not for a young, developing skater. It never helped Patrick Chan either, because when push comes to shove in the biggest moments on the biggest stage, if you are used to making mistakes and still being rewarded and still winning, the mistakes will continue creeping in by habit and you won't be rewarded. That can be jarring and deflating. For example: 2014 Olympics -- Patrick Chan made one mistake too many, when the table was set for him to grab gold. Hanyu made fewer mistakes than Chan and won by default.
 
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AxelAnnie

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I was excited for him at first, then saw some of his fotos and videos, and read what people say about his behavior.... he is not in a solid place..
Well, that can't be good. He has always seemed to me to be a relaxed happy-go-lucky kind of guy.
 

Japanfan

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That kind of action by judges in the long run is NOT helpful to skaters' confidence, especially not for a young, developing skater. It never helped Patrick Chan either, because when push comes to shove in the biggest moments on the biggest stage, if you are used to making mistakes and still being rewarded and still winning, the mistakes will continue creeping in by habit and you won't be rewarded. That can be jarring and deflating. For example: 2014 Olympics -- Patrick Chan made one mistake too many, when the table was set for him to grab gold. Hanyu made fewer mistakes than Chan and won by default.

And the gold was Patrick's to lose, ready to be handed to him on a silver platter (pun intended).

However, I don't know whether harsher judging would have helped Patrick, either. I think he would just have settled for whatever placements he got. He was never really focused on gold medals, IMO. He comes across as really easy going in interviews and he also does not cope will with pressure IMO. He just got really lucky in terms of timing because he had quads when quads were not common or seen as necessary, subsequent to the 2010 Olympics.
 

Ladida

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I was excited for him at first, then saw some of his fotos and videos, and read what people say about his behavior.... he is not in a solid place..
Can someone tell me what they are seeing? Because to me it all the pics from ATS were quite regular Shoma´s photos - skating, sleeping everywhere, gaming on his phone, taking pictures with jail bait female admirers.
 

aftershocks

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... He just got really lucky in terms of timing because he had quads when quads were not common or seen as necessary, subsequent to the 2010 Olympics.

Yeah, I'm sure that Patrick doesn't look back, and he's happy with what he was able to accomplish over the course of his career. Nonetheless, I'd be happier had the judges properly rewarded Denis Ten with the World championship win in 2013 and Daisuke Takahashi with the World championship win in 2012, which were more deserved for those guys in those years, in my estimation. Obviously, my personal preferences are neither here nor there in the minds of the judges though. :p

Chan rightly and soundly won Worlds in 2011 with quads and gorgeous skating skills, and he might have won in 2009 over Lysacek had Chan been more diplomatic in the press conferences (of course Chan made a slight error in the fp, but nothing too bad that shouldn't have sealed the win for him had the judges been looking at him as favorably as they did in later years when greater errors by Chan were overlooked). Had Chan won Worlds in 2009, he would have been set up a bit more confidence-wise for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, perhaps. There is still the burden of pressure skating on the biggest stage in one's home country. In addition, Chan was very young, so he may still not have won gold in 2010, but maybe he would have been more in the running over Evan Lysacek, who clearly did not possess the stellar talent of many of the other guys.

Lysacek was just a determined gamer and a hard worker with political backing and huge self-belief, plus there was a lot of sentimentality for coach Frank Carroll as well. Still, there was later also a lot of backlash against Lysacek, as a direct result of Plushenko's public pique regarding 'macho' quads. Lysacek had a quad-triple he could have competed, but he correctly determined that he didn't need to perform quads to win. Of course, in the aftermath of Plushy's public hissy fit, the entire scenario surrounding 'macho' quads ended up changing the course of men's figure skating. Chan paid attention, mastered quads, and quads suddenly became king through the over-valuing the sport gave them. Better attention should have been paid to incorporating quads reasonably by at least the late 90s and early 2000s, then more quys would have developed them sooner. In recent years, with the advent of Quad King Nathan Chen, the over-valuing of quads has been course-corrected. But the entire quad development within men's figure skating would have gone much smoother with better leadership and vision by the federations and the ISU.

Once again, full circle, the sport should fairly reward talented skaters and not over-reward them when they make mistakes, simply because they are seen as brilliant and precocious. Doing so does not help the confidence or the career development of such skaters. I think Chan would likely have been more determined and focused for the 2014 Olympics, had he not won Worlds controversially in 2012 and in 2013.
 

skateboy

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And the gold was Patrick's to lose, ready to be handed to him on a silver platter (pun intended).

He was never really focused on gold medals, IMO.

Hmmmmm... While Patrick was always goofy and likeable, I always felt that he was VERY focused on the individual Olympic gold medal. It appeared to me that he bought into his own hype, and why wouldn't he? Going into Sochi, it was Patrick and then everyone else. His gold was predicted a lock, remember the fan threads on this forum: "Who will win silver and bronze in the men's event at Sochi?" Patrick also got cockier in interviews as he collected more hardware. I specifically remember him, in an interview, referring to himself as "an Olympic champion" in the months leading up to the games. (Yes, probably a Freudian slip, I get it.)

As we all know, Patrick took a year off after Sochi before coming back. When he did come back, he seemed shell-shocked that he was no longer on top and was defensive in interviews, speaking negatively about the quadsters (Yuzu, Shoma, Nathan, Boyang, etc.)... even saying, "none of them are the next me." I think Patrick's plan was to come back and contend for gold in Korea--and he definitely tried to up his game, adding two quads in a program--but once he realized the sport had passed him by, he settled for a team gold instead.
 

aftershocks

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Hmmmmm... While Patrick was always goofy and likeable, I always felt that he was VERY focused on the individual Olympic gold medal. It appeared to me that he bought into his own hype, and why wouldn't he? Going into Sochi, it was Patrick and then everyone else. His gold was predicted a lock, remember the fan threads on this forum: "Who will win silver and bronze in the men's event at Sochi?" Patrick also got cockier in interviews as he collected more hardware. I specifically remember him, in an interview, referring to himself as "an Olympic champion" in the months leading up to the games. (Yes, probably a Freudian slip, I get it.

Right, and to my mind, what you have observed is indicative of Patrick Chan having been perhaps a bit over-confident publicly, albeit under-the-surface, he was likely distracted and not that confident. Once again, when you repeatedly win with mistakes, it's easy to think you are prepared, and when the biggest moment comes, mistakes creep in as usual, but without the usual over-reward. ;)
 

Japanfan

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Hmmmmm... While Patrick was always goofy and likeable, I always felt that he was VERY focused on the individual Olympic gold medal. It appeared to me that he bought into his own hype, and why wouldn't he? Going into Sochi, it was Patrick and then everyone else. His gold was predicted a lock, remember the fan threads on this forum: "Who will win silver and bronze in the men's event at Sochi?" Patrick also got cockier in interviews as he collected more hardware. I specifically remember him, in an interview, referring to himself as "an Olympic champion" in the months leading up to the games. (Yes, probably a Freudian slip, I get it.)

In the run-up to Sochi, the Canadian media over-hyped Patrick and hounded him relentlessly. To me he always seemed very defensive in interviews and not confident about winning the gold. I expected him to blow it with a silly mistake or two, and he did not disappoint. I just never saw him as a skater who thrived on pressure.

As we all know, Patrick took a year off after Sochi before coming back. When he did come back, he seemed shell-shocked that he was no longer on top and was defensive in interviews, speaking negatively about the quadsters (Yuzu, Shoma, Nathan, Boyang, etc.)... even saying, "none of them are the next me." I think Patrick's plan was to come back and contend for gold in Korea--and he definitely tried to up his game, adding two quads in a program--but once he realized the sport had passed him by, he settled for a team gold instead.

I don't recall Patrick every saying "none of them are the next me". Do you have a source?

I have no idea whether Patrick intended to contend for gold in Korea, but my impression was that he just wanted to get out of competitive skating ASAP.

There was, however, a focus on Team Gold for Canada in Korea. Skaters said they established that gold after winning Team Silver in Sochi.
 

skateboy

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I don't recall Patrick every saying "none of them are the next me". Do you have a source?

I'm sorry, I don't. But I remember it very well, it was an interview in a written article (as opposed to a video). In fact, I believe I read it from a link someone provided here on FSU, so it's probably in the archives of one of the Patrick Chan threads. Pretty sure it was shortly after his return to competition, after taking the year off. Another thing I remember about the article is that Patrick referred to himself and Javi as being "artistic" skaters, as opposed to the quad-hungry "new" generation. He was quick to give credit to the guys that were able to do multiple quads.
 

aftershocks

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Yeah, it was a difficult transition for Patrick because of the hype and partly because of how he sometimes responded to interviewer questions. I certainly don't blame Patrick for his career trajectory in the sport. I think the over-hype and the judges' scoring, which Patrick had no control over, were problematic for him. It's not a good thing being put in a position of being on the defensive after controversial wins. Yes, Patrick was sometimes a bit arrogant, but he also admired and respected his competitors. And he also truly wished to pay attention to developing his artistry. He has much to be absolutely proud of. He did his best, and he gave it as much as he could, and then he appeared to experience some burnout. When he came back, it was more difficult to keep up with the quad game. But at his best, Patrick Chan always mesmerized and put on a SS clinic! :encore:

The Canadian team for 2018 Olympics should feel so proud. They were on a mission, and they achieved their goals! And now, we are in the midst of the passing of an era, and the ushering in of a new era in the sport.

Usually things aren't perfect and nothing tends to go according to plans, particularly in athletic competition, especially judged competition. It's about being able to manage the pitfalls and deal with whatever happens.
 
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