Transcript of JapanSkates' interview with Nobunari Oda at Thornhill Summer Skate, Aug 20, 2006.

By Mark S., (c) JapanSkates 2006.

Normally, interviews with members of the Japanese team (or any national contingent) must be expressly approved by that nation's skating governing body, as well as the skaters' coaches and sometimes even the host arena itself.  All five previous JapanSkates interviews required a series of e-mails, faxes and late night phone calls to make sure we had permission to speak with the various Japanese ladies and to publish the results.  I knew something was different when, as I was arranging the Aki interview for Thornhill Summer Skate, I mentioned that we might like to interview Nobunari Oda as well and my usually process-driven contact at the JSF replied "Oh, just ask him, he'll do it." 

If you've ever met Mr. Oda, you'll know that he's a very outgoing, confident and personable individual on and off the ice.  And training at the Mariposa club in Barrie, he speaks excellent English.  I-Ching, who had met "Naboo" at the 2005 World Juniors and at last year's Thornhill Summer Skate, went up to him on the Saturday evening following his winning short program and asked if he'd interview the next day.  He said "Sure, just find me after the free skate."  He had also visited this website as we had given him our card last year, but mourned the fact that it was "only about the ladies!"

Following his awesome event-winning free skate, we found Nobunari and took him into the lounge for the interview.  I-Ching's friend Gigi, a lifelong skating fan herself, was with us too and they took photos during the session.  Nobunari's mom was there too and actually snapped a pic of us interviewing him.

JS:  JapanSkates
NO:  Nobunari Oda

JS:  Thank-you, Nobunari, for doing the interview.  You are the first male skater to be interviewed by JapanSkates!  All the others were girls!

NO:  (laughs)  Ah, thank you!!!

JS:  Congratulations.  How do you feel about your performances these last two days?

NO:  Thank you.  This time is my first time to show the new programs to the big audience and judges.

JS:  So, these were the new programs for the season?  What was the music for short and free?

NO:  Short program is "Fly Me To The Moon", which is jazz music, and the free program is classical music by Tchaikovsky, Symphony No 20 perhaps.

JS:  What are your plans after this?  Are you going to stay in Toronto, go back to Barrie or to Japan?

NO:  I'm staying just for a week after this, then I'm going back home and training up to Skate America.

JS:  Are you training at Mariposa this year?

NO:  Oh, yes.

JS:  Why did you choose Mariposa?  What brought you there?

NO:  Ah, after I didn't choose my program, the Japanese Federation chose for me.  The Federation suggested Jeffery Buttle.  The Japanese Federation wanted me to be like Jeff.  So, that's why.  And my coach is Lee Barkell.

JS:  How has your life changed since coming to Canada?  Is life different for you in Canada than in Japan?

NO:  Ah, my life is very good because my host family is very, very nice.  They are such nice people.

JS:  Do you have much time for a social life?  Going out with friends?

NO:  Oh yep!

JS:  You don't have to answer this one, but do you have time for a girlfriend?  Anyone in your life?

NO:  Ah....not much!  (all laugh)  Not so much!

JS  (I-Ching and Gigi):  Fans writing into the site have asked that.  People wanted to know if you had a girlfriend!  (All laugh)

JS:  Why do you think the Japanese skaters are so popular these days?  Everywhere I go, I hear "Ganbatte" from the crowd, lots of people yelling and cheering for the Japanese skaters.  Why do you think that is?

NO:  I don't know, I think because figure skating is so popular in Japan, that's why they like us.

JS:  This is a more serious question.  At the Japan national championships...unfortunately you finished first and then were given second.  How did you feel about that and not being able to go to the Olympics?

NO:  I was so sad because I was first, and then down to second.   But after last year I was third, so then after getting second I felt better (later on).

JS:  We have a friend Dave Carmichael, the photographer, and he was there and said it was very unfortunate.

NO:  Yeah, I was crying all the time...on the podium I was "Ohhhh"!

JS:  How about your goals for this season?  Do you have specific goals for this year?  For 2010?

NO:  Yes, I want to be national champion this time, and then go to Worlds, and then maybe podium!  (laughs)  And then 2010 in Vancouver.

JS:  Is it safe to say your goal is the Olympic gold medal in Vancouver?

NO:  Oh yeah!

JS  (I-Ching):  It looks like we're going to be there, so we're going to cheer for all the Japanese skaters!  (all laugh)

JS:  Do you have a message for all of your fans at our website?  What would you like to say to them?

NO:  I would like to say thank you to my fans and I am very, very flattered by their attention.

JS:  All of this media attention, people asking you questions and taking you enjoy that?

NO:  Yes, I really enjoy that and am very happy when girls and boys ask me "Could I take your picture?" and I'm so happy because I really like my fans and like to be friendly.

JS:  Who was your favorite skater growing up?

NO:  My favorite skater is Elvis Stojko, and Yagudin and Plushenko.

JS:  Who are some of your best friends on the Japanese team nowadays?

NO:  Oh, like all!  The Japanese national team is very, very friendly all the time.

JS:  (I-Ching):  So do you guys go out a lot?

NO:  Yes, after competition, yep!

JS:  (I-Ching)  There is a rumor that some of the Japanese female skaters like you!  We hear you're popular with the ladies!

NO:  (Torrents of laughter...but strangely no comment!)

JS:  (I-Ching):  At this age, what do you miss the most?  You're so young, but not an ordinary boy anymore.  Everyone knows who you are and you're going to the Worlds and Olympics.  I know you like the attention, but what do you miss the most?

NO:  Yes, but I love figure skating, so it's no problem.

JS:  I ask this question to all the skaters.  Of all of the funny things that people throw on the ice for you, what was the funniest or strangest thing you've ever got on the ice?

NO:  Uh.... underwear!  (all laugh)  In Japan... but not normal underwear, like T-back!

JS:  (I-Ching):  You mean a thong?

NO:  Yeah!!!  That was it!  (all laugh)

JS:  (I-Ching):  Where are you staying for this competition?  Here in Toronto or in Barrie?

NO:  Barrie, yeah!

After this funny ending to the interview, we had Nobunari sign some autographs and pose for some pictures with us.  We told him he was the "first man to have his picture taken with the JapanSkates banner".  JapanSkates would like to thank Nobunari and his mother for the gift of their valuable time on such short notice!  It was a fun experience and we'll do it again.  Looks like the men might be here to stay at JapanSkates!



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