Junior Grand Prix 2014, Nagoya TV Cup, Japan
Part 2, interviews
November 28, 2014
By Atsuko Kuryu
Photos © Keiko Kasai
I made a few interviews with some skaters who impressed me at this competition. Some of them had a strong performance, portrayed a charming character in their program, or experienced their first Junior Grand prix event. These interviews were quite short because of the interviewing policy in Japan. But the skaters were all so nice and friendly, and I’d feel happy if I could give the readers a chance to know them better and remember their names.
Kevin Shum of the USA delivered a beautiful short program using his body effectively and proved his great potential. He finished 7th overall in the competition. This interview was taken the day after the short program, where he placed 4th.
How is your first Junior Grand prix coming so far?
Great, I’ve had great experience.
Who do you look up to as a figure skater?
Evan Lysacek and Yuzuru Hanyu. Evan had consistent jumps and Yuzuru has wonderful quads.
Evan is kind of powerful and masculine, while Yuzuru is a little softer. Which do you aim for?
It depends. In my short program, I skated gracefully, and in the free skate, I want to show my powerful side.
Kento Kajita, Japan, also experienced his first appearance in a Junior Grand prix event. He is a local skater and I have been watching him at Regionals since he was very young. I always cheer for him so I'm very happy to be able to introduce him in my report. The interview was made right after his successful short program. He was 5th after the short program but finished in 10th place overall. He delivered a wonderful short program but collapsed in the free skate. However, I rather loved the parts of his free skate where he moved gracefully with a good flow reminding me of the grand Vltava (The Moldau).
How do you feel now after your short program?
I was so nervous but I’m relieved now because I could skate without any big mistakes.
How nervous were your?
I felt the pressure before I started skating. Because I hadn’t had a good practice before the event; I was quite anxious. But when I saw a Japanese flag in the stands, I calmed down. I realized that the audience supported me and I was not alone there.
When in the program did you think you could make a good performance?
After I landed the triple-triple, I felt sure of myself. And I was really happy the audience cheered me on with clapping during my performance.
Your closest friend, Hidetsugu Kamata, won the Asian Open and got good results at his first Junior Grand prix in Ljubljana, Slovenia. How did it affect you?
I always think of Hide as my lifelong rival. His victory in the Asian Open and the result of his first Junior Grand prix inspired me a lot. I thought I’d like to do better than him.
What is your goal this season?
I want to get good result in the Junior Nationals so I can be selected for the Senior Nationals.
Who are you favorite skaters?
I look up to Jeremy Abbott, Daisuke Takahashi and Yuzuru Hanyu.
What kind skater do you aim to become?
I want to become a skater whose performance, once you watch it, you’ll want to watch over and over again.
Yuhana Yokoi, Japan, competed on home turf. She was also a Junior Grand prix debutant and impressed the audience with her fresh and vivacious free program set to Gypsy Music. She ended up in 6th place.
How do you feel about your performance?
I was happy because many of my friends came and cheered me on here in Nagoya, my hometown, although my performance was not so good. I thought I could do it well because I had a pretty good warm-up. But before I took off into my opening jump, I had flash backs of the mistake I made yesterday. What I did well tonight was to keep smiling all through my performance.
What have you learned from your first Junior Grand prix event?
I was very nervous but after having experienced this big pressure, I think I could manage my nerves better next time.
What do you think about the skaters from all over the world?
I did well in practice so I thought I could fight on almost equal basis. But once we went into the real competition, they were actually very strong. Maybe it was because they had more experience than me.
What is your goal this year?
I will compete in the regionals soon. I want to deliver consistent performances and go to Junior nationals. I want to have enough practice and compete in all the competitions with confidence.
What kind of skater do you want to be?
I want to entertain the audience.
Promsan Rattanadilok Na Phuket from Thailand looked mature and cool in her short program but quite pure and innocent in her free program to Romeo and Juliet. The difference really amazed me. This 15-year-old has already been around for a while. Her placement was 24th in this competition.
How many Junior Grand prix events have you competed in?
This is my third competition. I feel ok now but before I started I was so nervous my knees were shaking.
When did you start skating?
I started when I was 8 years old. There are 3 or 4 rinks in Bangkok, but mine is the biggest.
Are you the only international level skater from Thailand?
No, we have another girl.
How much do you practice in a week?
I practice 6 days a week, about an hour or 2 a day. I have to go to school and the rink almost every day. The traffic in Bangkok is quite bad so it is difficult for me to divide up my time properly.
What is your goal for this year?
I want to clear the minimum score for Junior Worlds.
Who do you respect as a figure skater?
I really like Mao Asada and Ashley Wagner. And I also like Yuzuru Hanyu.
What kind of skater do you want to be?
I want to combine elegance and power.