Transcript of Japan Skates' interview with Nana Takeda at Skate Canada, November 3.

By Mark S., (c) Japan Skates 2007.

Click on the photos to see larger versions.

The first thing Gigi and I did after arriving at the Colisee Pepsi on Thursday, November 1 was to request interviews with the Japanese team.  As members of the press, we had the right to ask for the interviews, but needed the Japanese delegation's approval of course.  The next day, I was informed that the Japanese delegation had consented to them, and that they would take place all together on Saturday evening, after the ladies free skate and before the gala exhibition rehearsal.  We would be limited to 15 minutes each (including photos and autographs) for Yukari and Nana, and about 10 minutes for the ever-in-demand Mao.  We happily pared down the prepared interview questions to the most important ones, and looked forward to meeting the ladies.

Nana had had a strong competition, finishing sixth in her first senior Grand Prix event.  It was a strong start to her season and she did not look at all out of place, without a deduction in either program.  Since Nana is new to the senior ranks this season, my intention for the interview was to get to know her and introduce her to our readership, rather than focus too much on the technical aspects of her skating.

We were fortunate to have Akiko, the official interpreter of the Japanese team at this event, serve as translator for all three interviews.  I have put Nana's answers in italics when she speaks through Akiko, and in regular type when she speaks English (or French) on her own.

JS:  Japan Skates
NT:  Nana Takeda

Congratulations on your performance at Skate Canada.  How do you feel about your performance this weekend?

NT:  For both the short and free program, I was able to land my favourite jumps, but in the free I doubled the flip and Salchow jumps, and also there were a couple elements I didn't get very good levels.  So those are my next assignment to improve on.

JS:  Can you say what those elements were, where you received lower-than-expected scores?

NT:  The spin... In the short program the combination spin was level four but the centering wasn't so good, so I go some minus GOE.

JS:  This is your first year as a senior on the Grand Prix circuit.  Do you have a specific goal for yourself this season?

NT:  I was hoping to finish top six (at Skate Canada), but while I was performing I wasn't really thinking about the placement, but I really practiced a lot for this competition and I wanted to show what I was able to do.

JS:  Do you have a goal for placement at the all-Japan championships?  Any hopes for the Four Continents or other competitions?

NT:  I want to finish top six at all-Japan and go on to some other competitions.

JS:  The ladies team in Japan is very strong and very popular.  How do you deal with the pressure of competing against them, and are you at all intimidated by the top Japanese skaters?

NT:  I'm not intimidated at all.  I feel I'm lucky that my teammates are so strong and if I can win within my nation, it means that I can win at international events as well.  So I feel very lucky to be on such a wonderful team.  Listen to Nana

JS:  Do you have a favourite jump or favourite element?

NT:  Triple loop, or layback spin.

JS:  Conversely, is there a least favourite or most difficult element?

NT:  My Lutz is a little off the edge, so I still need to work on it, and I haven't done the triple flip very much, so I want to put it in my program.

JS:  When and how did you start to skate?

NT:  I was five years old.  There was a skating championship in 1994, I was five years old and I watched it on TV and then the next day I went to a skating rink.  Yuka Sato became the champion.

JS:  Can you describe for us a typical day in your training, and how you balance school?

NT:  I start at 6:00 am, until 8:30.  Then I go to school.  It depends on the day too.  And after school I go back to the rink.  I skate with the general public for almost three hours.  And then either I take a break or get a massage, and then I go to night training.  Night training is usually one hour or one hour and a half, and it finishes at 9:45 at the latest.

JS:  That's a long day!  Is there fitness training involved?  Strength, dance training?

NT:  In the off-season, I go to jazz dance and ballet lessons, but during the season I try to do everything on the ice with my music.

JS:  A lot of your teammates have come to Canada the United States to train.  Would you consider coming to North America to train one day?

NT:  I feel that I need to complete the jumping skill first, and after I'm able to do all the jumps, I would probably need to train outside of Japan, either Russia or North America, to polish up other areas, other than jumps.  I want to get secure with my jumps first, before I go outside of Japan.  But it's very possible in my future.  Listen to Nana

JS:  (Gigi asking)  Who would you like to train with?

NT:  I don't have anyone particular in my mind, but I would like to train with a high-level skater who would give me some motivation and stimulation.  A training mate that is, not a coach.

JS:  Who are some of your competitors that you admire?  Or role models from the past?

NT:  Irina Slutskaya.  Since I was a child, I've admired her.  I also like the Japanese skaters here, as well as Joannie Rochette.  I think her skating skill is very good.

JS:  Are you in college now? What are you studying?

NT:  I'm in my first year of college.  At Waseda University for sports science.

JS:  Could you tell us about some of your interests and hobbies outside of figure skating?

NT:  I like to watch DVDs, and I like shopping! (giggles)

JS:  Ah...have you gone shopping while in Canada?  In Quebec?

NT:  I did, but it was really cold out, so I didn't spend too much time outside!

JS:  Do you speak any French?  (all laugh)

NT:  Un, deux, trois!

JS:  Can you tell us how many are in your family?

NT:  I'm the only child.

JS:  We ask this to all the skaters.  You've had many gifts thrown onto the ice.  What is the craziest or funniest gift anyone has ever given you?

NT:  I got a love letter.  But I didn't answer it!  (all laugh)

JS:  Who are you some of your best friends in skating?

NT:  Aki Sawada, Akiko Kitamura, Mai Asada.  They are all my age.

JS:  Finally, do you have a message for all your fans who read our website?  Maybe to a young girl in Canada who's your fan?

NT:  I'm going to practice even harder and hope to get a higher ranking in the future, so I hope that my fans are going to keep supporting me.

After this, we thanked Nana and had her sign autographs for us and the site, and we presented her with the official Japan Skates T-shirt and baseball cap.   Nana seemed really happy to receive them.  She was so pleasant and fun throughout the entire interview, and gave very thoughtful and detailed answers.  Immediately following the session, Mao came in and we began the last of our three consecutive interviews.



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