Transcript of JapanSkates' interview with Yukari Nakano at Skate Detroit, July 22, 2006.

By Mark S., (c) JapanSkates 2006.

More photos and videos taken at the interview are at this page.  Japanese version is at this page.

I arrived at the Detroit Skating Club with my girlfriend, I-Ching, at 6:30 pm on Friday, July 21, just as the Ladies Free Skate (part 1) was about to begin.   Our contact at the arena, Georgia Hartsell, greeted us and told us that Yukari's chaperone and interpreter would meet us shortly.  We were very surprised and pleased when she told us that it would be Yuka Sato!  Yuka met us and we arranged the interview for the following day after Yukari's practice.  We then went into the stands and enjoyed the skating, especially Yukari's program, which was the best of the evening and easily qualified her for the next evening's Final Round.

The next day, after Yukari's practice, Yuka took us all to a quiet room next to the practice rink and we started the interview.  Yukari's English was quite good and she answered most of the questions in English herself.  When she needed assistance, she would speak to Yuka in Japanese, who would then translate and elaborate.  When I finished Yukari's questions, I asked Yuka if she'd answer a couple, to which she graciously agreed.  Throughout the interview, I-Ching snapped some great pictures.

As in past transcripts, I've tried to stay as close as possible to a verbatim transcription.  Also, I have put Yukari's own words in regular type and Yuka's translations in italics.  I have also put Yuka's translations into the first person.

JS:  JapanSkates
YN:  Yukari Nakano
YS:  Yuka Sato

JS:  Congratulations on your performance yesterday.  We really enjoyed your Free Skate.  How do you feel about your performance so far

YN:  Ah, I’m very tired (laughs).

JS:  Is it difficult to prepare for a competition in the summer?

YN:  Yah, right. 

JS:  Have you been training recently, or have you been relaxing, or enjoying your summer? 

YN:  I have very pressure.  Oh yeah, I have had a really busy season, and I have been working really hard, going to some shows and such.  So as much as I've been training, at the same time I have been working by performing.  So that’s why I think I was really tired, getting in shape for the competition.

JS:  Are you skating old programs or your new programs for next season?

YN:  New programs. 

JS:  Can you tell us what the musical selections are?

YN:  My short program is “Memoirs of a Geisha” and my free program is “Cinderella”.  We thought they were the best choices for my skating. 

JS:  Those are great choices.  The next question is about the Code of Points judging system.  What technical elements in your skating are you trying to improve the most to improve your scores under the Code of Points? 

YN:  I will try (a) triple-triple this season, that's what I'm practicing (nervous laughter).

JS:  Are you going to try the triple Axel again?

YN:  (Smiles) Yeah, in this evening!

JS:  This is a little bit of a personal question.  You had a great season last year, but you were not chosen for the Olympic team, and many fans thought you deserved to be on it.  What are your feelings about not being chosen for the Olympic team, and being chosen for the World team instead?

YN:  I wanted to go to the Olympics.  It’s too bad, it’s life, you know, how things have turned out to be what it was.  I've got the hard feelings...of course, but there is next time.  But I don’t know, I don’t know yet.

JS:  Actually, the next question is about future goals.  Do you plan on skating competitively to the next Olympics in Canada?  Or are you just planning for next season? 

YN:  In this season, my goal is World Championships in Tokyo.  So my plans are just for this season. 

JS:  Some of the Japanese skaters have come to America and Canada to train.  Last year, we interviewed Miki in Cleveland and Yoshie in Toronto.  Do you think you’d like to come to North America to train sometime?

YN:  There aren’t as many rinks in Japan compared to the U.S. and Canada.  So it’s very difficult in Japan to practice. 

JS:  So is coming here to train something you’d consider?

YN:  I prefer to stay in Japan.  (giggles) 

JS:  That’s a great answer, very honest.

JS:  Did you have a favorite skater when you were growing up?

YN:  Oh my favorites were Midori Ito, and...Oksana Baiul….and (pointing to Yuka)…her!  (Yuka laughs)

JS:  Yuka’s one of my favorite skaters too!

JS:  Do you have a best-ever performance?  

YN:  In Japan National Championships last year. 

JS:  Here is a funny question.  I ask this to all the skaters.  What was the best gift ever thrown on the ice?  Your favorite gift or a funny gift that you received? 

YN:  Oh, that would be tights!  (torrents of laughter)

JS:  Wow, Yoshie got socks and you got tights!  (more laughter)

YS:  Very interesting!  (more laughter)

JS:  Finally, I know that the skaters on the Japanese team get along well as friends.  Who are some of your best friends in figure skating, Japanese or international? 

YN:  Um, I think that Shizuka Arakawa and Miki Ando are my best friends.

JS:  Well since we still have tape left, maybe we could ask you a few questions, Yuka? 

YS:  Sure!

JS:  Do you still work and train here at the Detroit club?

YS:  Yes, at the moment I’m kind of busy skating on my own as well, so I just started getting back to coaching.  Right now for this summer, I have so many Japanese skaters coming in and out, so I’m kind of busy with them.  I haven’t really taken too many new students locally.  But I would really like to get into that.

JS:  Do you and your husband plan on continuing to skate at the professional level?

YS:  As far as we know at the moment we are committed through December 16, which is the Brian Boitano skating festival.

(At this point I-Ching reminded me of two questions I had forgot to ask Yukari)

JS:  We have fans writing from Africa who have never seen live figure skating, who have written into the website and are intrigued about figure skating internationally.  Do you have a few words for those fans out there?  A message for them? 

YN:  Thanks for cheering and I wish that a lot of people could see my performances and hopefully I can touch their hearts.

JS:  (Referring to her signature) Is that a cat?  Your signature looks like a cat.  Is there a meaning to it?

YN:  No…Yukari…Y…and the big line is an 'N' for Nakano.  (all laugh)

After this, we had Yukari sign autographs for us and the site, and then we posed for some pictures together.  We thanked her and Yuka for their time and wished Yukari the best for that evening's final free skate.  Although the fact that Yukari was speaking in English limited her to short answers, she was very direct and definite in her responses.  She obviously knows who she is and what she wants to accomplish.  We wish her the best of luck this season and in the future.

JapanSkates would like to thank Yuka and Yukari again for their valuable time, and also Georgia Hartsell and all the staff at the Detroit SC for being so welcoming and accommodating.  Thanks also go to the Japan Skating Federation for authorizing and arranging this meeting.



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