By Mark S., (c) JapanSkates
More photos and videos made
at the interview are at
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.
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
MS = Mark S.
GV = Gregg V.
MS: Nice to meet you
Miki, my name is Mark.
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.
(Looking it over and smiling)
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.
Oh, thank you!
Congratulations, Miki, on your medal at the Japan International
Challenge. How do you feel about your performance at the Japan
(laughs) I was just enjoying my skating at the competition, so
just do that. And I was able to get the bronze medal.
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?
(laughs) Oh, noÖ.no more pressure...
Finally, were you pleased with the scores you received at the Japan
(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
youíve increased the difficulty quite a bit this year.
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?
not really thinking about it. I don't mind it, but...itís a
little bit annoying and demanding sometimes. But I don't mind
saw you throw out the first pitch for the baseball season...
Ah! I like baseball
but I had never seen the baseball.
that exciting for you?
it a good throw?
(laughs) Yes! I could reach
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?
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?
I have to get used to
it every day, but I am mainly doing skating, and Carol is helping.
you adjusted to living in the United States?
Well I have Carol, and
my friends, and I am skating most of the time, so it is OK.
you do anything fun around here? Is there anything you like to
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
about any football or baseball games? Cleveland has got the
Indians, and the Browns...
we watching in the TV every weekend (Miki laughs), so
Cleveland Browns and Indians. Ohio
Buckeyes. Lot of sports around here, sure!
I like it!
do you feel you have adjusted to the new Code of Points judging
(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.
is the highlight of your career so far? A performance, or
meeting someone, or anything that was a big event for you?
AhÖ Thatís a hard question for me.
Well, we know you were Japanese champion two times; you were World
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.
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.
Ah, oooh! Oh really?!
Iím excited about that. Hopefully Iíll see you there with a
medal getting put around your neck!
I hope so!
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.
donít mind about competing...after skating we are all friends
Onda Yoshie is my best friend.
interviewed Yoshie last week, actually two weeks ago.
Ah really! In Canada?
Iím from Toronto.
it was really fun. (Miki laughs)
Miki have a brief message for all of her fans that come to our
I just want to keep going and enjoying
skating. I want to go to the Grand Prix Final,
and the Olympic Games, so every competition I want to improve.
I just want to get better all the time.
you could have any gift thrown on to the ice for you, what would it
(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.
Well, you know Dave Carmichael, the skating photographer.
MA: Ah yeah! You know him, really?!
gives photographs to our website. He told me that your favorite
character was Snoopy! Why Snoopy?
(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.
point we had completed the primary questions and, since we seemed to
have more time, started in on supplemental questions we had
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?
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!
he pick the music also?
you have any special hobbies or interests or other sports?
read the ISU biography and it said you like dancing too.
No, I don't do that
now, but before I did dancing.
all skating, lots of skating! (laughter)
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?
Somebody (who advised
us) said that 'loose' or 'down' hair is not a good idea.
wearing your hair down is not acceptable or legal in competition?
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.
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.
fear is that you cannot do the movements or the choreography with
'moving' hair. I would like it moving, but this person said
(Miki innocently smiles and shrugs).
quad jumpÖare you going to attempt the quad jump this year?
UhÖ oh, quad
jump is very difficult to decide.
do you decide whether youíre going to try it or not?
I decide during the
practice before the competition.
so if you feel you can do it, you go for it. Do you practice
that here too?
try, but (I have) new boots now, so I canít do that in practice. I practice (it) in Japan.
practice in Japan? What do you practice here that you donít
practice in Japan?
We can try that in the
practice hereÖbut itís the new boots, thatís the only difference.
there things you practice here but not in Japan? Do you come
here for a certain type of training? The spins, the
We can try the spins
Where do you fit school into all of this?
I do on-line classes. I do
homework and school and just e-mail and we sending work to school.
Third year high school?
do you have one more year after this? Or are you a senior?
No, no, finished.
Yes, so I am finish and then go to college.
going to college?
you decided where?
MA: I am
going to a college in Nagoya (name omitted for privacy)
Nagoya? Thatís your hometown, right?
you know what youíd like to study?
you going to continue skating?
HmmmmÖ.maybe! (rolls eyes)
Well, we would sure like to see you continue skating! We hope
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
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