Transcript of JapanSkates' interview with Miki Ando at the Winterhurst Club in Lakewood, Ohio, October 19, 2005.

By Mark S., (c) JapanSkates 2005.

More photos and videos made at the interview are at this page.

I arrived in Cleveland from Toronto by car on the Tuesday evening around the same time Gregg was arriving by plane from Boston.  I picked him up at the airport and we set to planning the next day's interview.  On Wednesday, we arrived at the Winterhurst Club in neighboring Lakewood at the appointed time in order to conduct the interview and sit in on a practice session.  We knew we were in the right place when Carol Heiss-Jenkins greeted us from across the rink with a friendly "Are you Mark and Gregg?!"  Thus began a wonderful meeting with two of skating's brightest stars.

Carol introduced us to a very shy and formal Miki Ando...quite unlike the outgoing young lady we knew from Japanese media promotions.  Miki had just arrived from Japan two days earlier and she and Carol had met with a technical specialist the day before to go over her programs, so this day was Miki's first of training since the Japan Challenge.  We were then introduced to Miki's chaperone in Cleveland, a friendly and helpful lady named Kimiko Nakamura, who led us upstairs to the viewing area where we were to conduct the interview.  As with Yoshie twelve days earlier, we were happy to have more time than we had originally allotted for the questions.

Kimiko went over the questions with Miki and asked if it was OK if Miki answered in Japanese, with Kimiko translating.  Miki was most relieved when we had no objections!  For this transcript, I have put Miki's words in italics when she speaks English, and in regular type when Kimiko is translating.  I have also put Kimiko's words into the first person.  The interview was very conversational in tone and we had a lot of fun asking the questions.  It ended up less of an interview and more of a chat.  As Miki felt more comfortable, she relaxed and spoke for longer stretches in English.

MS = Mark S.
GV = Gregg V.
MA =
Miki Ando


MS:  Nice to meet you Miki, my name is Mark.

MA:  Hi Mark!

GV:  Iím Gregg.

MA:  Hi Gregg!

MS:  This is the website we run (handing her some printouts)Öit is dedicated to you and the other top members of the Japanese skating team, so thereís a page for you.  Weíve been running the website for about six months now.

MA:  (Looking it over and smiling)  Ahhhh....

GV:  We both went to Skate America last year and actually met you a couple times.  We watched you practice and I met you in the hall and got your autograph.  Meeting you was part of the inspiration for us to do this site.  It was being able to interact with you and the other skaters that night that made us want to give something back to the skaters.

MA:  Oh, thank you!

MS:  Congratulations, Miki, on your medal at the Japan International Challenge.  How do you feel about your performance at the Japan International Challenge?

MA:  (laughs)  I was just enjoying my skating at the competition, so just do that.  And I was able to get the bronze medal.

MS:  Was it difficult because it was so early in the season?  Was there a lot of pressure on you because the competition was held in Japan?

MA:  (laughs) Oh, noÖ.no more pressure...

MS:  Finally, were you pleased with the scores you received at the Japan International?

MA:  (laughs) So...I know my (unintelligible) step and spiral step was Level 1 in International Challenge.  But I now practice the (unintelligible) step and spiral and it was Level 4.

GV:  So youíve increased the difficulty quite a bit this year.

MA:  Yeah!

GV:  Over the past year, you seem to be in demand for a lot of public appearances.  How do you feel about all the attention that youíre receiving?

MA:  I'm not really thinking about it.  I don't mind it, but...itís a little bit annoying and demanding sometimes.  But I don't mind it (laughs).

GV:  We saw you throw out the first pitch for the baseball season...

MA:  (laughs)  Ah!  I like baseball but I had never seen the baseball.

GV:  Was that exciting for you?

MA:  Yeah! (laughs)

MS:  Was it a good throw?

MA:  (laughs) Yes!  I could reach the catcher!

MS:  Oh good!  OK Miki, weíre looking for reasons you decided to come to Cleveland this year to train at Winterhurst with Carol.  Why did you come to Cleveland?

MA:  I like figure skating this year, but last year after Skate America a little bit didn't like it.  This year, my former coach, you know him?  He recommended Carol Heiss-Jenkins, and we decided to come here.

GV:  How do you feel about living so far away from home?

MA:  I have to get used to it every day, but I am mainly doing skating, and Carol is helping.

GV:  Have you adjusted to living in the United States?

MA:  Well I have Carol, and my friends, and I am skating most of the time, so it is OK.

GV:  Do you do anything fun around here?  Is there anything you like to do?

MA:  Downtown!  Downtown!  I go to the air show.  On Labor Day, we go to the downtown so we are watching the air show.  And we go to the lake.  We like to go downtown.

GV:  How about any football or baseball games?  Cleveland has got the Indians, and the Browns...

MA:  So we watching in the TV every weekend (Miki laughs), so Cleveland Browns and Indians.  Ohio State!  (everyone laughs)

GV:  The Buckeyes.  Lot of sports around here, sure!

MA:  I like it!

MS:  How do you feel you have adjusted to the new Code of Points judging system?

MA:  (laughs) Well I get better doing the new system, and I practice more difficult steps and levels.  So I hope I get better.  I can try the higher level.  I can do spins and I can do spirals now.

GV:  What is the highlight of your career so far?  A performance, or meeting someone, or anything that was a big event for you?

MA:  AhÖ  Thatís a hard question for me.

MS:  Well, we know you were Japanese champion two times; you were World Junior champion.

MA:  So, I have got skating so I like to train with Carol and I'm training the higher level.  That's it; I want to reach the higher level.

GV:  So the highlight is yet to come, still in the future  (laughter).  Maybe the Olympic gold medal (torrents of laughter)!  I should mention that Iím going to be there that night, Iím going to be at the free skate in Italy.

MA:  Ah, oooh!  Oh really?!

GV:  So Iím excited about that.  Hopefully Iíll see you there with a medal getting put around your neck!

MA:  I hope so!

MS:  OK Miki, I told you about the website.  We feature all of the top lady skaters in Japan, we feature eight skaters.  Weíd like to know if you find it easy to be friends with the other top skaters.

MA:  I donít mind about competing...after skating we are all friends   Onda Yoshie is my best friend.

MS:  We interviewed Yoshie last week, actually two weeks ago.

MA:  Ah really!  In Canada?

MS:  Yes, Iím from Toronto. 

MA:  Oh really!

MS:  So it was really fun.  (Miki laughs)

MS:  Does Miki have a brief message for all of her fans that come to our website?

MA:  (talking, laughing)  I just want to keep going and enjoying skating.  I want to go to the Grand Prix Final, Japan nationals and the Olympic Games, so every competition I want to improve.  I just want to get better all the time.

GV:  If you could have any gift thrown on to the ice for you, what would it be?

MA:  AhÖ. (lots of laughter)Ö  Well I once got flowers with a message.  Somebody gave me flowers with an "energy" message in it.  "Go Miki".  So I liked the flowers and message.

MS:  Well, you know Dave Carmichael, the skating photographer.

MA:  Ah yeah!  You know him, really?!

MS:  He gives photographs to our website.  He told me that your favorite character was Snoopy!  Why Snoopy?

 Miki and Gregg

MA:  (laughs)  It was born like the baby, so my gift was Snoopy.  So the Snoopy doll was my first gift.  Same age and same birth date.  They were giving gifts to the babies, so I am keeping now.  So I am the same age as my Snoopy doll.  My Snoopy!

(At this point we had completed the primary questions and, since we seemed to have more time, started in on supplemental questions we had prepared).

GV:  I recently watched your performance at the Japan International Challenge.  You seem to have more emotion in your performance over last year.  Did anything inspire you to put more emotion into your program this year?

MA:  I...I am training here with Carol.  And I visit Toronto and meet David Wilson, you know him?  And he help with the choreography.  I enjoyed his choreography.  He helps me so much!

GV:  Did he pick the music also?

MA:  Yeah.

MS:  Do you have any special hobbies or interests or other sports?

MA:  (laughs) Ah tennis!

GV:  Dancing?

MA:  Just...skating.

GV:  I read the ISU biography and it said you like dancing too.

MA:  No, I don't do that now, but before I did dancing.

GV:  Itís all skating, lots of skating!  (laughter)

MS:  This question is from a fan, a lady who wrote into the website.  Is Miki going to wear her hair up or down this season for the short program, free skate?

MA:  Somebody (who advised us) said that 'loose' or 'down' hair is not a good idea.

MS:  So wearing your hair down is not acceptable or legal in competition?

MA:  Somebody, I donít know, mentioned that it is not a good idea.  But the Japanese Federation not say (it), but this person say youíll lose points if you wear your hair down.

GV:  The person asked that question because last year you wore your hair up all the time, but at the Japan Challenge it was down.  It think that surprised that person, so thatís why they asked that.

MA:  The fear is that you cannot do the movements or the choreography with 'moving' hair.  I would like it moving, but this person said not to.  (Miki innocently smiles and shrugs).

GV:  Your quad jumpÖare you going to attempt the quad jump this year?

MA:  UhÖ oh, quad jump is very difficult to decide.

GV:  How do you decide whether youíre going to try it or not?

MA:  I decide during the practice before the competition.

GV:  Oh, so if you feel you can do it, you go for it.  Do you practice that here too?

MA:  I try, but (I have) new boots now, so I canít do that in practice.  I practice (it) in Japan.

GV:  You practice in Japan?  What do you practice here that you donít practice in Japan?

MA:  We can try that in the practice hereÖbut itís the new boots, thatís the only difference.

GV:  Are there things you practice here but not in Japan?  Do you come here for a certain type of training?  The spins, the choreography?

MA:  We can try the spins here.  Yes.

GV:  Where do you fit school into all of this? 

MA:  I do on-line classes.  I do homework and school and just e-mail and we sending work to school.

MS:  Third year high school?

MA:  Yeah!

MS:  So do you have one more year after this?  Or are you a senior?

 MA:  No, no, finished.  Yes, so I am finish and then go to college.

GV:  You going to college?

MA:  Yes!

GV:  Have you decided where?

MA:  I am going to a college in Nagoya (name omitted for privacy)

GV:  In Nagoya?  Thatís your hometown, right?

MA:  (laughs)  Yeah!

MS:  Do you know what youíd like to study?

MA:  Just sportsÖ

MS:  Are you going to continue skating?

MA:  HmmmmÖ.maybe! (rolls eyes)

GV:  Well, we would sure like to see you continue skating!  We hope you do!

MA:  Ha ha ha ha!  Thanks!

At this point, we had Miki sign some personal autographs for us and one for the site.  Afterwards, we got up and had Kimiko assist in taking some photos with us and Miki.  Miki then went downstairs and prepared for her final hour-long practice session of the day.  Gregg and I sat in the stands and took some photos and videos of the practice, which are available at Miki's interview photo page.

After the practice, we presented Miki and Carol with a card and small gifts of appreciation.  We said our goodbyes to Miki, who went home with Kimiko "to relax and maybe go shopping".  Carol reminded her that, if she slept to get over her jet-lag, she should return to the rink and practice later in the day.

Gregg and I then chatted with Carol for over half an hour.  We covered a wide variety of topics in a very candid manner.  Carol is everything one would expect from an Olympic champion, and was very welcoming and accomodating.  She has a number of other skaters at a variety of levels and spoke with much pride about them.  She invited us to stay in contact, and we certainly will.

Return to Miki's page 
 

 

 



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