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Japan Skates » Skate Canada interview with Fumie Suguri, 11/2/2008, Ottawa, Ontario
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Skate Canada interview with Fumie Suguri, 11/2/2008, Ottawa, Ontario

As soon as Gregg, Gigi and I arrived in Ottawa for Skate Canada, we set up shop in the well-appointed Media Room and prepared for the event.  With Gregg and Gigi tasked with getting the best photos possible during the event, it fell to me to set up the interviews with the Japanese team.  This time, Japan was represented by men’s competitor Yasuharu Nanri, whom we had not previously met, and two ladies we know quite well, Fumie and Nana.  Also present was Yuko Kawaguchi, who is the Russian national champion in pairs with her partner Alexander Smirnov.  The Japanese delegation chief graciously accepted our interview requests with Yasuharu, Fumie and Nana, while coach Tamara Moskvina approved our request for Yuko. 

Japan Skates had met Fumie back in July, when Gregg traveled to her training facility in New Jersey, Ice House, to conduct what proved to be our most popular interview to date.  Fumie candidly spoke of her change of countries and coaches, her new outlook for 2010, and what makes her the sensitive artist that she is.  Incredibly, I had never seen Fumie in person before, despite having followed her career since the 1990s.  However, I felt comfortable speaking to her since Gregg already knew her, and was standing right beside us in the media room. 

Fumie had come off a silver medal performance in Ottawa, in which she completed most of her jumps beautifully, but after which she found herself over 25 points behind the winner, Canada’s Joannie Rochette.  To begin the interview, I have used three questions asked Fumie during the medal winners’ press conference the night before. 

JS:       Japan Skates

FS:       Fumie Suguri 

Press Conference:  Fumie was asked to make a statement about the event and skating in front of the Canadian fans.  Fumie began by joking that she thought she’d have to speak from the podium rather than from the table. 

FS:  Yeah, actually I wasn’t on the podium, so I thought I would have to stand on the podium!  But it was very nice that I skated in front of a Canadian audience again, and I really thank them that they really cheered me during this competition, and that’s why I think I can skate well. 

Listen to Fumie

Press Conference:  Fumie was asked to give her feelings on skating well and winning a medal, after moving to train under Nikolai this year. 

FS:  Even though I didn’t skate well last year, I was really sure that during the practice I was… I really believed in myself, and that my decision of changing technique was right.  But it was very, very difficult because there’s no resort.  And then over this year, it’s very hard and I have to believe in myself.  But I think this is a very good way, and I have to be thankful that I got this for my confidence.  And also, I really thank my coach that he’s really accepted this job, even though I was down.  So I’m really happy about this event.

Press Conference:  Fumie was asked how motivating it was to train alongside Miki Ando and others at Ice House. 

FS:  Actually, there is more boys as well, and it’s really, really good for me to bring up the motivation.  You know, the boys are trying so many more difficult things than I do, and also physically they are stronger than the girls.  And Miki also… her jumps are very good, so I really learn from her.  So, I think our teammates are very good, and during the competition they give me text messages, and that’s nice! 

Listen to Fumie

JS:  First of all, congratulations on your silver medal here… well deserved!  It was a beautiful program. 

FS:  Thank you very much! 

JS:  How happy were you with the program?  Can you discuss the single flip as well? 

FS:  Actually, I was very happy.  It was so-so for the beginning of the season.  I was also very happy that the Canadian people were very warm during the skate.  I think they really cheered me a lot, more than I expected.  I would thank them, as that makes me skate well.  And also, during the programs, short and long, I have many mistakes, little mistakes but still I lost some points for that.  And the last flip… I knew I wanted to do so I knew I should not think that way but a little bit I tried, like, too hard and that’s why I faulted. 

JS:  Was that intended to be a combination? 

FS:  Yeah, it should have been a combination. 

JS:  I noticed that a few points were lost. 

FS:  Yeah, exactly! 

JS:  It was a great performance, but I noticed that in the end there was about 25 points difference between Joannie and you, 188 to 163.  What do you believe made the difference? 

FS:  Actually, it’s the five components thing, because I think I… After I moved to Nikolai, I had to work with him a lot of jumps first, because I didn’t have consistency.  So I worked first on the jumps; how I could get more consistency in the jumps in the competition and the program.  That was our first goal.  And then we kind of were not really working so much for the five components, especially like choreography or transitions.  So I think now it’s getting a little steady, so I have to improve to the next step.  It’s like little by little, so I think that point I lose so much from Joannie. 

Listen to Fumie

JS:  You had mentioned that you’d been training the jumps so vigorously.  You have a new coach, and you’re doing well, but he’s in Japan!  How was that, competing without your new coach? 

FS:  Ah, it was very, very tough. You know, I really trust him, so it was very difficult for me to perform here.  But actually it was very good that I have a lot chances without skating him, for example this year I did many shows, but he could not come with me, and also the first competition in Japan, which was regional, but he could not come as well.  So that experience really helped, because he was away, so I know how I become when I have to be myself. 

JS:  You think he’ll be there for Russia?! 

FS:  I hope so, yes!!!  (all laughing) 

JS:  When you spoke to Gregg, you were still in the process of deciding on music.  You were thinking about “Fanfan”, but there was no free skate mentioned.  Well, now you’re “Fanfan” for the short, and it’s “Otonal” for the free skate.  That’s a popular selection.  Why did you decide to go with that one?  What was the reasoning? 

FS:  Fanfan actually was chosen from Nikolai.  We tried many different classical music, but he wanted me to do that kind of modern type of classical music.  It’s still classic, but it’s not really, really classical music.  So you know, if I’m going to use deep, classic music, I look old, not really fresh, you know?   More than I was.  So he wanted me to look a different way, but still have my good classical style, so that’s the reason why we chose Fanfan.  And Otonal, long program… we were thinking too much!  We were trying to think maybe this, maybe this, and try back and forth, back and forth; but all of a sudden actually we don’t have time!  So “OK Fumie, let’s do this,” you know?!  (laughing).  We tried to do that.  But I think it’s starting… it feels like (it’s) working.  Sometimes, you know, it just happens! 

Listen to Fumie

JS:  You are somebody who has always been able to skate to classical music.  I think it was 1999 or 2000 when you skate to Bach…  Why do you think you can skate to classical music; why do you have such a good relationship with it? 

FS:  It started with my first choreographer, Lori Nichol.  She really taught me from the very beginning and, you know, if the performer wants to learn somehow to perform, they have to learn classical, because that’s the basics.  And she really taught me a lot how to be really a classical style.  So that stays a long time.  Now, I think I have to have those basics to transfer to the next step.  That’s what I will see for Nikolai’s teaching for next year. 

JS:  You’re very popular at the site and we have a lot of readers from Japan.  Do you have a message for Japan skating fans that are going to be reading this interview?

FS:  Yes!  Japanese fans are so close and so warm to me, it always cheers me during the competition, and even during the competition I feel really close to Japan.  They’re like family; I can’t skate without them.  So I hope I can skate… I can do something for them with skating.  I hope that I give them joy or fun, or something like that.

 JS:  Congratulations again.  I have watched your skating for years, but I’ve never met you in person until now.  So it was a pleasure to meet you in person.

FS:  Thank you very much!

We’d like to thank Fumie for meeting with us again despite her busy schedule, and the Japan delegation chief for approving the interview.  It was our second interview with Fumie in three months, and it has been such a pleasure bringing you updates on her renewed career.

As always, Fumie had prepared an innovative exhibition program for that afternoon’s gala.  Gregg had been paying attention during the rehearsal that morning, and snapped a one-of-a-kind shot of Fumie, who had surprised the audience by hopping over the side boards to begin her program.

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