Fumie Suguri is one of the most recognizable figure skaters in the world today. She has certainly been the one of the most consistently successful Japanese skaters since 2000.
Fumie was born on December 31, 1980 and first skated in Alaska where her father worked as an international pilot. At the age of six, Fumie started training with Nabuo Sato, father and coach of 1994 World Champion Yuka. Yuka won the World Championship in her (and Fumie’s) hometown of Chiba, and it was at this event that a star-struck 13 year-old Fumie asked another 13 year-old phenom named Michelle Kwan to perform a triple Lutz for her. The Lutz became Fumie’s first triple jump as a result, and remains her favorite.
After moving up steadily through the ranks, Fumie’s breakthrough year was 2000-01, during which she claimed her first of three consecutive Japanese senior championships and became the first Japanese woman since Yuka Sato in 1994 to win an ISU international event (2001 Four Continents).
Fumie went on to enjoy unprecedented success over the next few seasons, finishing fifth at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, winning the World bronze medal in both 2002 (in Nagano, Japan) and 2003, and claiming the Four Continents title again in 2003 and 2005. Also in 2005, Fumie was the highest-ranking Japanese skater at the Worlds in Moscow, finishing fifth. Perhaps her biggest triumph was winning the 2003/04 Grand Prix Final in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Fumie’s skating style combines the best of both athleticism and artistry, and she possesses the rare gift of being able to interpret classical music effectively. The last few years have seen Fumie inject more humor and playfulness into her programs.
At a time when it appeared she might be eclipsed by younger skaters like Miki Ando and Mao Asada, Fumie rose to claim the 2006 Japan championship (her fourth overall) and skated to an impressive fourth at the Turin Olympics (a performance many felt deserved a medal). At the ensuing World Championships in Calgary, Fumie skated brilliant programs on her way to a silver medal.
The 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons saw Fumie skate well despite some nagging injuries, but slip to fourth at the Japan championships to miss out on selection to the World Championships each year. Determined to return to a top three ranking in Japan and qualify for the 2010 Olympics, Fumie relocated to the Ice House in Hackensack, NJ, under the tutelage of Nikolai Morozov, who has trained numerous Japanese stars in the past. Fumie spoke candidly about this change in her exclusive interview with Japan Skates in July 2008. The 2008-09 was a success for the most part, as Fumie regained her spot on the world team with a sizzling silver medal at the All-Japan Championships, winning the free skate along the way. She spoke to Japan Skates again at Skate Canada in Ottawa and gave honest opinions about what she was working on at that point in the season.
In September 2009, it was confirmed that Fumie had left Ice House to study with Alexei Mishin for the Olympic season, with the goal of qualifying for the 2010 Olympics. Unfortunately, a seventh-place finish at the All-Japan Championships prevented a third trip to the Olympic Games. Fumie, however, was determined to continue skating and shared her thoughts with Japan Skates in another in-depth exclusive interview while training with Lori Nichol in the Toronto area in April 2010. Fumie would later announce a return to Nikolai Morozov in hopes of returning to the World and Olympic stage.