junko yaginuma


20min interview the day after free skate of Worlds 2016, by Figure Skate TV (aired on 14 May 2016)

Q: What kind of a competition was this World Championships?
Yuzuru: Regrettable. There were lots of issues found especially in the FS. I’m more optimistic than I thought I’d be and more frustrated than everyone might imagine. There’s still some time until the next season starts but I want to do many things before the it starts and become stronger.

Q: How frustrating is it now compared to Worlds last year?
Y: Placing 1st in the SP last year and placing 1st in then SP this year is of a different quality. If we look at the scores alone, everybody’s levels went up.  It’s regrettable but compared to last season, my placement in the FS went up by one so I think I grew a little bit.

Q: Your FS didn’t go as you hoped for. From the time I interviewed you in Toronto and your perfect SP, I thought things were looking good so I was surprised at your FS. Did something change in between?
Y: Maybe I couldn’t control the peaking time even though Brian, Tracy and I talked about it a lot so that’s regrettable. I didn’t think my SP was ready but when I arrived here and was interviewed at the airport, I realized that I was prepared for the competition in regards to how I’d been training, how I’ve been building my condition and my mental state, etc. In that sense, I thought I was in a perfect state but with this as the result, I need to rethink about a lot of things.

Q:  Nobody know what’s going to happen on the ice so mistakes will happen. You mentioned at the press conference that you started to feel nervous.
Y:  This might be just my analysis, but I was able to perform 2 good skates consecutively and had good results and broke records. I was able to do more run-throughs without mistakes and my feelings towards winning increased too. But as a result, my feelings towards how to perfect the program, how I perform, how I jump, how I feel towards the program grew after every competition. When you interviewed me in Toronto, I said that there is no limit and there’ll never be “perfection” for me but the scores I received told me that I was close to perfection so I think I got too caught up in that. This is the conclusion I came up with as I thought about this yesterday. I felt that I had to aim for perfection, and aiming for perfection leads to motivation and focusing but it also leads to feeling pressure and I felt I was chasing after something I’d already achieved. I think I was feeling this way at GPF also but I felt like I had to outperform myself from the previous competition. My analysis is that I trapped myself. What I said at the press conference is that “the quality of nervousness was different”. I read various articles about myself when I try to clarify what happened and I noticed that I mentioned “perfection” and the “different quality of nervousness”. These are the 2 key words for me here. “Perfection” didn’t mean “performing the best that I can do now” but “outperforming the perfect skates I already had” and that brought out the different type of nervousness.

Q: Last season, you weren’t able to be where you wanted to be. This season was a season of progress, not just for you, but for the other skaters as well. How do you evaluate this season?
Y:  Javi included 2 quads in his SP and the 3A int he 2nd half of his FS. Shoma moved the 3A in the 2nd half. So there were a lot of evolutions going on during the season. Especially regarding Javi including 2 quads in the SP, this happened while I was away from the Cricket Club so when I found that out, I didn’t think of him a rink mate or a team mate but a rival and a scary existence. So when I lost to him, I felt frustrated. It was the same as last season where I placed 1st in the SP and made mistakes in the FS, and I watched Javi’s FS thinking “I’m going to lose to him again this year”. But the quality of frustration is totally different. Of course I’m frustrated at myself but I look at Javi with more familiarity as well as more of a rival.

Q:  Did you sense his seriousness?
Y:  He changed a lot. I won 2 years in a row at the GPF at his home and he must have felt frustrated about that as well as missing the podium at Sochi. I think these experiences have transformed him. He is a scary existence but I admire him, have always admired him, so I admire him even more.

Q: Thoughts about next season?
Y:  One thing that is clear is to increase the level of difficulty. Now that the season has ended, my thought is that I can’t remain at this level. About the quality of nervousness I was talking about, I’m extremely mad at myself for thinking that I was perfect. I received the maximum score with a layout of the most technical difficulty that I’m currently able to deliver so I think I was satisfied with myself in a way. So I need to aim higher and I want to be stronger.

Q: Is it hard to escape from the past?
Y:  Yes, it’s hard.  I could use it as a stepping stone like with the feelings of regrets from the past and present. These feeling have made me stronger in the past and will continue to make me strong. But past successes can’t necessarily be usable as a stepping stone. Only I can make it become that. No matter what kind of an environment I’m in or no matter what anyone says, this is the dream I’ve been chasing after so it’s only myself who can think and continue with the dream so I have to challenge my limit and go beyond my limit.

Q: By “raising the difficulty,” does it mean you’ll be adding different types of quads?
Y:  I’m thinking about that too but if possible, doing 2 in the 2nd half. I want to keep on challenging myself. But on top of that, I want to increase the level of perfection of the program with the way I’m able to show, interpret, express and feel so I want to show that as well as deliver the utmost technically difficult program even if I have to fumble along the way.

Q: What kind of a program would you like to do? SEIMEI was a great challenge so I’m really looking forward to what you’ll choose next.
Y:  I’m still thinking about the music, even more than last season. I can’t give a decisive answer in regards to what kind of music I’ll choose but I think when the time comes, I’ll think “this is it” or “I want to challenge this” or “I want to add depth to this type”. Expression has so many directionality, not only in its breadth but also in depth and perfecting it. Reception is different for everyone so I want to think about how I feel, what I want to do and how I want to perform.

Q: People will have high expectations now so it’ll be difficult to satisfy them.
Y:  But people’s expectations make me happy. It means that what I’ve been doing since I was a child is paying off. Since I was little, I skated to improve for a sense of accomplishment but also because I wanted to be praised. I want to do a program where I can move people as well as lay importance on how I want to perform. So I hope everyone looks forward to what I decide to do and I’ll also enjoy feeling people’s expectations as I prepare for next season.

Q: Is there anything you want to do now that the season is over?
Y:  My head is full of things regarding skating. I want to do something that’ll have good influences on my skating. I have fantastic earphones, headphones, and music players so I hope to use them to think about the next programs and absorb myself into music. There is nothing I’m thinking about that isn’t related to skating.
I think this season where I achieved most of what I wanted mid-season, and having disappointing skates for the last 2 competitions is an ordeal from god. I think I’m being told to think about skating and about what I can do for my body and mind.

Q: What do you want to eat when you go back to Japan. You said sushi before but what is it now?
Y:  I guess you’re telling me to relax but I can’t think about anything but skating. It’s inevitable, I can’t change my personality even if I wanted to;  so I’ll cherish it and face up to skating.

-thanks to Mikaboo (on GS) for the translation;  thanks to YzRIKO for the video and to Marina and Alia for sharing about this.

- At the end of the video: news presenter Junko Yaginuma (a former skater) was really in awe of him.  She said he made everyone rethink their own skating and push themselves to do more. For example, Shoma Uno’s quad flip may not have happened or may have come later if not for this “fight”.  Hanyu’s impact on everyone’s skating was really huge.  (I’m glad she said all this and more.)