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Japan Skates » Transcript of Japan Skates’ interview with Japan’s Ryo Shibata, August 11, 2008.
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Transcript of Japan Skates’ interview with Japan’s Ryo Shibata, August 11, 2008.

More photos and videos from the interview can be found HERE!

 

In late July, I received an e-mail from Yukina Ota saying that she would be returning to Toronto for ten days in early August.  She said she’d have a busy schedule during that time, but hoped that we could meet for lunch or dinner at some point.  I was happy to hear from her after she arrived and we set up Monday, August 11 as the day to meet.  I had such a great time meeting Yukina when she trained in Toronto last year and looked forward to seeing her again.  She brought along Japanese men’s competitor Ryo Shibata, who had been training in Toronto as well.

 

Over dinner (at the same Korean restaurant we enjoyed last year), we discussed their progress.  Both Yukina and Ryo were at the Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club.  Yukina was concentrating on choreography with David Wilson, who was “refreshing” her programs from last year, which she plans to use again this season.  Ryo was working on technique as well as choreography.  I asked Yukina about her future plans in skating, and she replied that she would try her best this season and see how the Zen Nihon (Japan Nationals) championships goes before making decisions about next season.  As dinner was winding down, I suggested we move to a coffee shop (Yukina requested Tim Horton’s!) and Ryo eagerly agreed to an interview so Japan Skates’ readers could get to know him better.  After I talked to Ryo, I asked Yukina a few questions as well.

 

From her time in Colorado Springs, New York and Toronto, Yukina speaks English well, so she served as Ryo’s interpreter, as well as interjecting some humour into the interview.  I’ve kept Yukina’s words as they were spoken, rather than rephrasing Ryo’s words into the first person.  Please keep in mind that this was a fun and informal interview, with questions asked as I thought of them.  Our goal was more to enjoy our coffee, tea and conversation than anything else!  We at Japan Skates hope you enjoy getting to know Ryo a little better.

 

 

 

Key

 

JS        Japan Skates

RS       Ryo Shibata

YO      Yukina Ota

 

JS:       Thank you for doing the interview.  You’re only the second Japanese male skater

that we’ve interviewed - Nobunari, and now you!  Can you tell me a little bit about yourself… who your coach is and what music you are skating to this season?

 

RS:      My coach is Masahiro Kawagoe, and my music is “Firebird” and “Romeo and

Juliet”.  “Firebird” is the free program.

 

JS:       Do you have any exhibition programs planned at this point?

 

RS:      I have it… the exhibition music is “Phantom of the Opera”.

 

JS:       You’ve done that one before, haven’t you?

 

YO:     He did it at an ice show… with a cape, and with makeup!!!  (laughs)

 

JS:       I remember that one!  What skating assignments do you have this year?

 

YO:     We only have Sectionals, then Nationals, and we have an international

competition… I think it will be Golden Spin.

 

JS:       What was your standing last year at the Zen Nihon championships?

 

RS:      I don’t remember exactly… oh yeah, eighth!

 

JS:       Can you tell me about this summer?  You’re in Toronto.  Who are you working with and for how long?

 

YO:     He’s working with Sergei Chetverukhin…he’s Russian and he lives in Toronto. He’s working with Sergei and Astrid Jensen and Brian Orser.

 

JS:       So Sergei is working on….?

 

YO:     His jumps a lot.  Sergei was an Olympian, at Sapporo… silver medallist!

 

JS:       You mentioned that you’re off to San Francisco this weekend; what will you be  doing?

 

YO:     He’s going to see his good friend, Tatsuya Tanaka.  He used to compete in

international competition, like us.  But he’s from Hong Kong.  He was training in Japan.

 

JS:       When did you start to skate?

 

YO:     Pretty late…after the Nagano Olympics. 


JS:
      So is that eight years now?

 
RS:    
Nine. 
 

JS:      What was your first triple jump?

RS:      I think it was triple loop….or triple Salchow  YO:  Wow!
. 
  

JS:      Who are some of your heroes in skating?  Who were some of your favourite skaters when you were younger?

 

RS:      Johnny Weir.

 

JS:       So he’s still one of your favourite skaters!  How about  the Japanese skaters.  Do you have any Japanese skaters that you admire?

 

RS:      Yukina!

 

 

JS:       Of course!  Do you have any goals for this season?  A placement at Nationals, or

scores you would like?

 

RS:      I want a medal!  YO:  At Nationals.

 

JS:       And your plan is to go to the Olympics in Vancouver if possible?

 

RS:      Yes.

 

JS:       Do you plan to skate after the Olympics for another four years?

 

YO:     No more!  It is hard work!

 

JS:       What are your plans after skating, for a career?

 

YO:     He needs to graduate his university first; then he wants to be a consultant.

 

JS:       Business consultant?

 

RS:      Right!

 

JS:       Because you study economics.  And what is the name of your school?

 

RS:      Meiji University in Tokyo.

 

JS:       What would you say is your career highlight?

 

YO:     When he won the Junior Grand Prix.  That was first time he got a gold medal. 

RS:      In Romania in 2004 I think… (Note:  the ISU page notes that he won a JGP event in Andorra).

 

JS:       What was your favourite program or music to skate to?

 

RS:      “Malaguena.”

 

JS:       And what year did you skate that in?

 

YO:     Three years ago, when we were freshmen (in university).

 

JS:       What are you working on the most this year?  Which element are you trying to improve the most?

 

RS:      Triple Axel!

 

JS:       Are you planning one or two?

 

RS:      Triple Axel and quad toe! 


YO:  Also, he’s working his spins a lot and step sequences.

 

 

JS:       What would you say is your favourite jump?

 

RS:      Flip.

 

JS:       And how about other elements?

 

RS:      Spins.  YO:  He loves spins.  Have you seen his layback and Biellmann?  Also, I like his layback, because it’s very pretty… for a guy!  Better than ladies!  (giggles)

 

JS:       You must have a flexible back then!

 

YO:     Yeah, he has a pretty flexible back.

 

JS:       In your spare time, what are some of your interests and hobbies?

 

RS:      My hobby is shopping!  (Yukina laughs).  Shopping and resting in my house!

 

JS:       How about your favourite movie?

 

RS:      Chicago!  (Yukina cheers)

 

JS:       Favourite musician or singer?

 

RS:      “Kubokuro.”  YO:  Japanese hip-hop artist.

 

JS:       Would you like to skate to that some day?

 

RS:      (laughs)…Ah… no.    YO:  Just good for listening!

 

JS:       What was the funniest thing that a fan has every thrown onto the ice for you?

 

RS:      Underwear!  Just boxers!

 

JS:       Did you keep them?

 

RS:      Yes!

 

JS:       Did you ever get a love letter on the ice?

 

RS:      Yeah!

 

JS:       Did you answer the love letter?

 

RS:      No… (all laugh)

 

JS:       Are most of your friend skaters, or do you have friends who are not figure skaters?

 

YO:     Yeah, most are skating people.

 

JS:       What is your favourite place that you’ve ever visited?

 

RS:      Hawaii.  I just visited there.

 

 

JS:       What is a typical day in your life like?  What is your on-ice or off-ice schedule? 

            Do you do weights, or Pilates?

 

YO:     No, he doesn’t like them.  He’s pretty lazy! (laughs) He practices one hour a day.  But you know, we practiced before, when we were young, we did a lot, but right now we don’t have enough ice time, like here (in Canada).

 

JS:       Any other kinds of off-ice training?

 

YO:     He used to!  Not right now.  But he’s doing it sometimes. And he goes for massage.

 

JS:       What is your skating club in Japan?

 

YO:     It is in Tokyo.

 

JS:       Are there any top skaters there training with you?  Or are you the star?

 

YO:     He’s the star of the rink!  Star skater!

 

JS:       Some fun questions now.  If you were on a desert island all by yourself, what would you bring?

 

YO:     His girlfriend!

 

JS:       Do you have time for a girlfriend right now?

 

RS:      Not right now!  (all laugh)

 

JS:       Do you have your message for your fans at Japan Skates?

 

RS:      (Speaks into camera). 

 

YO:     I will do my best, so please cheer for me.

 

JS:       Yukina, may I ask you a few questions?

 

YO:     Sure!

 

JS:       About your summer, what have you been doing this summer, and can you tell us why you were in Toronto?

 

YO:     Here, I came here for David Wilson, for choreography.   My stay here is short, only ten days.  And after Toronto, I have the Nobeyama Training Camp.  Exactly like last year.

 

JS:       Is your coach still the same?

 

YO:     Yes… Yutaka Higuchi.

 

 

JS:       I’m going to ask you the question about the desert island too.  What would you bring if you could bring one thing?

 

YO:     I would bring “Earl Grey” tea!  What I’m drinking right now…it’s my tea!

 

JS:       What was your favourite country or city that you’ve visited?

 

YO:     Ah….. Kyoto!  (laughs)  And I love Toronto, and Milano!!!!

 

JS:       Now, you’re going to skate this year and you’ll see how Nationals goes.  Are you still thinking of going into coaching when you’re finished skating?

 

YO:     I’m interested in it… I don’t know, I wanna see!  I don’t know yet.

 

JS:       How are your ears?  You’ve had your ears pierced for one year now?

 

YO:     Ah yeah, it hurt so I didn’t wear anymore.

 

JS:       When you’re skating, do you wear clip-on earrings?

 

YO:     No, I don’t wear them.  I want to, but no.

 

JS:       How about you, what’s your favourite movie?

 

YO:     Center Stage, and I love Rent. It’s a musical, too!

 

 

JS:       How about your favourite movie or musician?

 

YO:     The Carpenters.  I love the Carpenters.  Ryo loves Celine Dion… I love her too!

 

JS:       What’s your favourite Carpenters’ song?

 

YO:     I don’t know the name… (sings to herself).   I know… it’s “I Need To Be In Love”!

 

JS:       What music would you love to skate to the most?

 

YO:     I love classical music.  Sarah Brightman…and I love Phantom of the Opera.

 

JS:       You still play the piano?

 

YO:     No, not anymore, but I can still play the piano.

 

JS:       Do you have a message for your fans?

 

YO:     (Into camera).  It’s almost same as Ryo’s.  I’ll do my best…and please cheer for me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’d like to thank Ryo and Yukina for taking the time to meet me.  They had busy schedules and I was so happy they could fit me in.  I wish them both the best this season, and we all hope to stay in touch.  Ryo would like me to send him the official Japan Skates baseball cap and shirt.  And thanks as always to the Japan Skating Federation for approving the interview (after the fact!).

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