salt lake 2002

Four skaters from Japan, Rika Hongo, Keiji Tanaka, Satoko Miyahara and Yuzuru Hanyu talked to us about their skating career before the ISU Four Continents Championships 2017.

Q = Interviewer Wei Xiong for ISU
RH = Rika Hongo
KT = Keiji Tanaka
SM= Satoko Miyahara
YH= Yuzuru Hanyu

Q: How did you get into figure skating?

RH: My mother is a figure skating coach. I followed her to work when I was three years old, and I played around the rink. When I was five, I told her that I want to learn figure skating, and that’s how I started.

KT: There was a skating rink near my home, so at the beginning I went there just for fun. It was during my first grade in elementary school. Then I enjoyed it so much that gradually I started to take regular skating classes, and before I realized, I was already a member of the skating club.

SM: I started skating when I was four. I lived in the U.S. for two years and a half when my parents were studying there. There was a skating rink inside a shopping mall, when I went there, I tried to skate for the first time and I really enjoyed it, so I started to skate.

YH: It was my elder sister who started to skate first. At that time I wasn’t particularly into figure skating, but I was just following my sister and skating with her.

Q: When did you decide to dedicate yourself to this sport and be an athlete?

RH: I was inspired by Shizuka Arakawa’s victory at the 2006 Olympics, since then I started to dream about competing at the Olympics, and I started to train hard to be a skater.

After she won the Olympics, there was a parade in her hometown Sendai, and you were the kid who accompanied her in the parade car. Do you still remember that day?

Yes, I remember I was sitting next to her, and I saw the shining gold medal at a close distance. I thought that was so cool and I was inspired.

KT: After I joined the skating club, I think being an athlete just became something very natural to me, and I never thought about quitting because training was tough.

SM: I kept skating and naturally began real training after I came back to Japan. When I was in third grade in elementary school, I competed at my first international competition. Ever since then I realized I would become an athlete.

YH: For me, an athlete equals to an Olympian, an Olympic gold medalist. When I was around five-years-old, I already seriously thought about winning the gold medal at the Olympics. But what made me want the Olympic title strongly was the battle between Yagudin and Plushenko at 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.

Q: Did you already have the confidence that you were going to be a top skater in the world?

Tanaka: I still don’t think I am competitive on the international stage, but one thing that inspired me was when Yuzuru won the World Junior Championships. He is the same age as me, and the best among us. When he won the junior title, I thought it was really awesome, and I wanted to catch up with him. So I made up my mind and set my goal to be a competitive skater in the world. One year after, I won the silver medal at junior Worlds.

SM: I didn’t think about being a top skater at that time, but I strongly wanted to go to the Olympics.

YH: Yes! I remember I got the second place at my first ever competition since I started to skate, but soon I won my next competition. I was presented a trophy in that competition, and I lifted the trophy over my head, just trying to imitate what Plushenko and Yagudin always did. It was a small trophy like this size (he pointed to his beverage bottle), and I did it like this (he held up the bottle over his head). It was a small, domestic competition, I think I was five years old, or maybe first grade in elementary school.

Q: Being an athlete is tough, but is there anything even tougher that you hadn’t expected or imagined?

RH: All your time is occupied by skating, I train every day, and it is so difficult to find some time just to hang out with your friends. Also, I need to get up early in the morning, that’s also tough.

YH: The risk of injury is high, and there is no guarantee that the harder you train the better you become, so I think that’s really the difficult part. Also, I think this is unique in Japan, but figure skating is so popular here that I cannot go out easily, and there are paparazzi around, so this is something difficult to deal with too.

(Does training in Canada make things easier?)

Yes, I can get more of my own time in Canada.

Q: What’s your favorite element in figure skating and what gives you headache?

RH: I like the jumps the most. Among all types of jumps, I like toe the most, but I am not good at loop.

KT: I like doing footwork, especially when it fits the music, it feels really enjoyable. As for what I am not good at, compared to those best skaters in the world, I have a lot of work to do on my spins.

SM: I like all elements. But I am not good at twizzles, and I wish I could spin faster on flying camel spins.

Q: Could you share with us the stories or inspirations of your programs this season?

RH: My free skate this season is choreographed by Akiko Suzuki. I want to enhance my presentation, and I think I can learn a lot from her. Before she retired, we were skating in the same rink, and I was always amazed and inspired by her. It feels great that I can continue to learn from her now in this way.

KT: It is a new genre of music (“Federico Fellini Medley”) that I’ve never tried before, so it was really difficult at the beginning of the season, I just couldn’t catch the feeling of the program, and couldn’t show the right facial expression. When I made a mistake on the first few jumping passes, it felt very hard to concentrate on presentation, and hence couldn’t put the program together. But at the NHK Trophy, I did well with the first few jumps, so I carried the momentum to the rest of the program, kept the energy and paid attention to facial expressions. I finally felt I was able to perform this program well.

SM: Tom Dickson recommended the “Star Wars” music to me in the middle of last season, and we started to do the choreography right after the season ended. The music is something different from what I’ve skated to before, but I think it is so cool and I like it.

You are always shy off the ice, is it difficult to skate to something so “cool”?

Yes, I really need to pay a lot of attention to the movements and scale when I skate, and give much more strength than before.

YH: The music of my free skate was composed by a Japanese composer, if I go deep into the story behind the music, it was actually the opening song of 1998 Nagano Paralympics. My mom watched the Nagano Olympics and Paralympics, and then she wanted my elder sister to skate, so she took her to skating class. If you think about it, those Olympics were the starting point of my skating life, so I want to use this piece of music. Also, as I mentioned, it was composed by a Japanese composer, so I think I can continue to present something I’ve learned from “SEIMEI”.

The Olympics really is something special for you, isn’t it?

Yes. On one hand, when it comes to competing at a competition, like in Sochi, I treated it as a normal competition; but on the other hand, I am planning and preparing for the next Olympics, so I guess I have a special feeling for it. Of course, I want to win the gold medal again in Pyeongchang.

Your long program is called “Hope and Legacy”, and you talked about how skaters’ performances can remain as a legacy. Which performance of yours do you think is your legacy?

YH: It was my first novice national championships, which I won. I was very happy at that time, not only happy for the win, but also for my score. It was still under the 6.0 system, I watched competitions on TV a lot, so I knew only those very top skaters in the world could get over 5.5 points, but I got 5.2 for my presentation. I was so happy at that time, and my performance at that competition became my motivation of skating, and it still motivates me now.

Q: What’s your equity in Team Japan? For example, are you the one that laughs the most, or talks the most, or are you the one who likes to give advice and take care of rookies, or are you the one that doesn’t talk at all, etc.

RH: There are younger skaters coming up this season, but this is only my third year on the senior circuit and there are more experienced skaters than me, like Asada or Murakami, so I am the one who still tries to learn from the elders during competitions.

KT: I am the shy one and not good at talking. On the contrary, Yuzuru is very outgoing and really talks a lot, sometimes I cannot follow him.

YH: We are all teammates, but at the same time competitors. For example, I am at the same age with Ryuju Hino and Keiji Tanaka who also competed at NHK Trophy, we know each other since we were kids, we are really good friends off the ice, but on the ice, we are competitors.

Q: Yuzuru, Keiji just said you always talk so much that he sometimes cannot follow.

YH: I admit. I really talk a lot, but I am thankful that he is always willing to listen. Just like I said, we knew each other from long ago, so I feel like he can understand me.

Q: How about in the skating club? For Rika and Satoko, there are many younger girls in your rink, do you give them advice?

RH: I talk to them a lot, but we seldom talk about skating.

SM: I often practice with them, and I get stimulation from them, I enjoy skating with them. I don’t always do that, but sometimes I do give them advice. I also have things to learn from them, so I think it is a very good training environment.

Q: What do you like to do off the ice?

RH: I like sleeping and eating. I especially like ice cream, so whenever there is a limited edition or new flavor of ice cream, I will go get it and enjoy.

KT: I like watching movies. Recently I watch a lot of Japanese movies.

SM: I like reading books and sleeping, and I like cooking. I like something sweet, and I like Japanese food. I cook for my family when I have time.

Q: Yuzuru, you are taking university courses via e-school, right?

YH: Yes, but I am too busy training to keep up with my studies. Nevertheless my classes are very interesting. I am majoring in Human Science, it is very broad, and I study a lot about human, about computer science, etc. Recently I am really into Human Bioethics. I’ve thought a lot about “life” in my life so far, and I am also thinking about “life” when I perform “Hope and Legacy”, so studying Human Bioethics helps my skating. Given that I don’t really have much time, I try to take less courses, but study in depth and make every minute out of it count.

Q: One thing I have to ask Keiji, your name “Keiji” (which means “police” in Japanese) is so special. Who gave you the name?

KT: It was my father. He gave me this name because it is very unique, you can’t really find another person with the same name, and he wants me to be a person with strong sense of justice. He didn’t expect me to be a policeman, but I think this is really a good name, and I am glad that people can remember me by this name.


hazel’s favorite skates & skaters: a masterpost

note: these are only a list of a few of my favorite skates/skaters. there are SO MANY amazing skaters out there who i haven’t mentioned!! feel free to message me about anything: a skate, a skater, or skating recs! 

top ten favorite skates in no particular order [skater | skate song | event]

  1. Yuzuru Hanyu | Hope and Legacy | 2017 World Championships - FS
  2. Yuzuru Hanyu | Parisienne Walkways | 2014 Sochi Olympics - SP
  3. Yuzuru Hanyu | Phantom of the Opera | 2014 GPF - FS
  4. Evgeni Plushenko | Carmen | 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics - LP
  5. Jason Brown | Riverdance | 2014 U.S. Championships - FS
  6. Yuna Kim | Les Misérables | 2013 World Championships - FS
  7. Yuna Kim | Meditation of Thais | 2010 Vancouver Olympics - EX
  8. Evgenia Medvedeva | You Raise Me Up | 2016 World Championships - EX
  9. Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir | Symphony No. 5 (Mahler) | 2010 Vancouver Olympics - FD
  10. Meryl Davis/Charlie White | Samson and Delilah | 2009 U.S. Championships - FD

other favorites 

favorite skaters

  • Yuzuru Hanyu
  • Yuna Kim
  • Evgenia Medvedeva
  • Evgeni Plushenko 
  • Jason Brown 
  • Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir 
  • plus a whole lot more
Monsters on Ice

Seriously though these guys are flipping ridiculous. They aren’t super-saiyaan powering up and shattering whole planets, but they’re shattering world records like they were cheap wine glasses at an Asgardian wedding. 

Victor Nikiforov: 

While Victor may have been heavily influenced by Johnny Weir, I think his Career Path is probably a lot closer to the modern top figure skater in the world – Yuzuru Hanyu – who currently eclipses the competition.

Now I know a lot of people have been comparing YUURI to Yuzuru, but Yuuri’s career is far from the absolute Rocket-ship that has been Yuzuru’s career so far. And Victor’s rise to World’s Top Skater appears to be even BETTER than that.

Victor’s Medal Career:

Gold at Junior World Championships

5 consecutive Golds at the Grand Prix Finals (Yuzuru Hanyu only has 4 – but if he wins this upcoming December, that’ll be 5, and the most consecutive golds won at a grand prix final… ever. I mean he already holds that title, but it’d be by 2 fucking golds. If you aren’t blown away by this guy, you should be.)

5 consecutive Golds at the World Figure Skating Championships (Yuzuru only has 1, and nobody’s ever gotten more than 3 in a row In recent history - so we’ll say after WW2, typically 3 is the most anyone gets in a row, with the exception of Scott Hamilton who is the only skater since 1945 to get 4 in a row. Total number of medals, if you count them even if they didn’t get them consecutively adds Kurt Browning with 4 and Alexei Yagudin with 4. Our boy Victor here, has 5. With potential to win a nonconsecutive 6 if he heads to Worlds in season 2.)

Gold at 2004 European Figure Skating Championships

However many golds he earned at the Russian Nationals every year from 1999 to present (If Kubo-san borrowed Evgeni Plushenko’s record, that would be an additional 10, with a silver in there for good luck) 

At least 1 Olympic Gold medal (unofficially officially at Torino) 2006

At least 2 time Olympian (Torino in 2006 and Sochi Winter Olympics 2014) If Kubo-san’s pattern of putting Victor in Gold anywhere a Russian took Gold holds though, then Victor is at least a 2 time Olympic Gold Medalist - One at Torino, One at Salt Lake City 2002, with a silver in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics which would make him a 3 time Olympic athlete) 

Golds we’ll never know about in his Junior days, but I’m sure were plentiful in his younger years because HE’S FRIKKING BANK. 

Long-time World Record Free-Skate score holder, Likely World Record Short Program high score Holder, and I’m putting money on long-time world record combined high score holder. 

THIS MOFO was pulling 300+ combined score in 2012.

Look at that leaderboard, okay. Chris and Victor have literally BLOWN the world record off the fricking charts. Just tossed it to the side like a sweaty sports towel, and the announcers aren’t screaming their lungs out like they should be. Yuzuru Hanyu, the current WORLDS TOP RANK SKATER was the first to bust 300, but that didn’t happen until 2015! 

Psst - I would also like you to note that Yuri’s score at 6th place is right on par with the average TOP WORLD RANKED SKATERS today. Victor is so fricking extra. 

Okay. Now that we’re all excited, remember that Victor has been regularly pulling over 100 in his Short Program routines. So regularly, in fact, that at the beginning of the series he is able to off-handedly suggest he thought Yuuri would be able to get there, too. And Yuuri replied with a ‘casual’ “oh yeah because you do it all the time…” in all seriousness.

(Yuzuru wouldn’t start doing that until the 2014 Winter Olympics. In fact… NOBODY was doing that until Yuzuru Hanyu was doing that. And almost NOBODY is doing that to this very day, except Yuzuru Hanyu.)

Yuuri Katsuki: 

Yuuri is getting there, with Victor’s help. His Grand Prix Final Short program score of 106 would have been GROUND BREAKING in 2014. Yuzuru Hanyu wouldn’t score that high until the 2015 NHK Trophy – and immediately followed it up with a mind-boggling 110.56 at the 2016 World Figure Skating Championships just March.

I want you to understand why I lost my literal shit when Yuuri Squinted at the score in the GPF and they announced it at 106. 

NOBODY but Yuzuru Hanyu has scored that high.  In fact, Yuzuru holds the top two spots in short program scores for all history AND the top score in the free skate at over 200 (219.48 to be exact), which is just as mind-blowing as a 106 SP Score.

Yuuri’s Record-breaking Free Skate score in the GPF is 221.58. Again – absolutely GROUND BREAKING. Yuzuru Hanyu would be the first to break 200, and he did it with a 216.07 in the 2015 NHK Trophy, where he was also the first skater to breach the 300 total score mark. 

Yuuri’s Free-Skate score at the GPF is higher than any skater has ever scored in the history of real life figure skating

But before that, Victor had held the world record Free-Skate score for a ‘long time’.

Yuzuru Hanyu’s world record combined total score is 330.43, which he got in the 2015 Grand Prix Final.  Yuuri isn’t quite there, but I imagine we’re going to see our Ice Monsters completely obliterate that. Or at least match it, during the next season. ** VICTOR ALREADY OBLITERATED IT**

You need to STOP boi.

Yuri Plisetsky:

He CRUSHED his Juniors. We don’t have anything official, except that we know he won gold at his last Junior Worlds because he goes hunting Victor to make good on a promise. 

Then he turns around and in his Senior Debut snags two podium spots in the GPF Qualifiers and DESTROYS the world record at the Grand Prix Final. Held by none other than Victor Nikiforov until earlier that same day, when Yuuri CRUSHED IT. 

With his world record GPF Score and Gold Medal at 15 FRICKING YEARS OLD, He’s already proving he’s the next Bakemono no Aisu.. no .. we can do better than that..   YOUKAISU !! 

((IF you aren’t watching Yuzuru Hanyu, you should be. Watch for him in March/April at Worlds, Oct-Nov for the GPF Qualifiers, and very probably in December for the Grand Prix Final. ))

***NOTE: OP is only a casual fan of Figure Skating and may have made mistakes - but did his best to research what he could to make sure he was gushing as close to the truth as he could manage.*** 


Watch Yuzuru Hanyu. Because if you want to see where Yurio is going to be next season, that’s where to look. 

**Couple of edits, due to some feedback - namely the WFSC record for number of consecutive golds - I’d like to point out that people prior to WW2 were pulling in as many as 10 … but that was Ulrich Salchow who was a pioneer in the building of the sport to what it is today, so I’ve chosen to go with post WW2 as that is what we would consider ‘modern’ figure skating.** 

** Thanks for the notes/messages you guys! I’m so stoked to see other casual fans willing to gush (and help) about IRL Skaters and records, and how fricking Extra our boys are.** 

Watch on

Michelle Kwan has been one of my favorite figure skaters (and athletes) since as long as I can remember. I grew up watching her skate and she’s the reason I came to love figure skating as a sport and an art form.

This performance hits me on so many levels, from the program itself (beautifully choreographed and skated in front of an enthusiastic home crowd) to the song choice (“Fields of Gold” is literally one of my favorite songs ever and this is a lovely, sensitive rendition) to the sad irony of it - Michelle never became Olympic champion. It would have been so perfect if she had been able to skate this program, in her golden dress to this golden song, having won an Olympic gold medal on her home turf. It’s sad to think of what could have been, but I think this is an absolutely wonderful performance nonetheless. Watch it and revel in the beauty and power of one of the most beloved American athletes of all time.

Salt Lake City, 2002: Canada’s women’s hockey team narrowly lost to the U.S. at the 1998 Nagano Olympics and that defeat seemed to haunt the Canadians for years. Salt Lake City would mean revenge for the hungry Canadian squad. The gold-medal game proved difficult and tested the Canadian team. The Canadians had 13 penalties called on them and played long stretches of the game on the penalty kill. In the end, they hung on for a 3-2 win and earned gold on American soil. (© AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)


It still feels like the Closing Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games was just yesterday. Let’s look back at some of the great Closing Ceremony moments from recent Winter Olympic Games. Which one was your favorite?


One of the Olympic Rings failed to open during the Sochi Opening Ceremony. So, Russia showed a great sense of humor by having the ring open in an even bigger way at the Closing Ceremony.


Canadian speed skater Catriona LeMay Doan was unable to light one of the cauldron pillars at the Vancouver 2010 Opening Ceremony due to a hydraulic problem with the pillar. She was given the chance to remedy that by lighting the pillar at the Closing Ceremony. Humor was on display here too, with Canadian clown and mime Yves Dagenais “pulling” the problematic pillar up onto the stage!


The athletes at the Turin 2006 Closing Ceremony entered the arena without a strict order. This followed a tradition started 50 years earlier at the 1956 Melbourne Summer Games.

Salt Lake City

At the Salt Lake City 2002 Closing Ceremony, 75-foot tall dinosaurs hovered over one corner of the stadium cracking jokes. Their voices were provided by Utah natives Donny and Marie Osmond. The dinosaurs were there to commemorate the rich natural history of the Salt Lake area.


Thousands of Japanese swayed flashlight lanterns in the crowd at the Nagano 1998 Closing Ceremony. The pride they showed in their city and nation was a beautiful sight.

The Daily Show - July 30, 2012
  • David Cameron: We are holding an Olympic games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world. I mean, of course it's easier if you hold an Olympic games in the middle of nowhere.
  • Jon Stewart: (snaps fingers) No. No. No, you did not! The middle of - no, no. You know what? When it comes to "fur-eign-urs" attacking the States, there is no Utah, there is only We-tah. Don't worry, Romney, I got Utah's back. Put me on the Utah cam! What's up?! What's up, Britain? Sorry, I didn't get back to insulting you earlier, we were too busy taking salt out of our huge lake so that our food doesn't taste like shit. Actually, that was kind of harsh. You know what, David Cameron, I got your back, too. Britain cam! Hey, Utah! I'm not saying you're boring, Utah, but the only reason you exist is to keep Nevada from giving Colorado herpes.