“Currently, what Shoma Uno aims for is not just jumps, but the essence of figure skating: the performance, the transitions, the expression, the skating itself.” interview with sport health professional Shinichi Demizu

Posted on 2023-06-21 • No comments yet


Traslation of the article and interview with Shinichi Demizu, sport health professional who works with Shoma Uno.

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source: jbpress.ismedia.jp by Takaomi Matsubara dd. 19th June 2023

“I support Uno Shoma because I like his performances.”

In the 2017-2018 season, Shinichi Demizu took on the role of supporting both Miyahara Satoko and Uno Shoma. From the following season onwards, it became solely supporting Uno, and that support has continued to this day. Throughout that time, he has faced numerous situations and observed Uno’s various appearances.

In the 2018-2019 season, before the World Championships, Uno expressed his desire for results, which was a different approach from his previous attitude.

“It was during the 2019 Four Continents Championships. At that time, his skates didn’t fit well, and he also had an ankle sprain, so he wasn’t in a good condition, and he finished in fifth place in the short program.

After winning a medal at the Olympics, many athletes tend to fade away. However, because I like Uno Shoma’s performances, I wanted to see more of him and wanted him to continue. I hoped that someday he would win a gold medal at a World Championships. Such thoughts crossed my mind.

After the short program, while taking care of him, I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if you could achieve a gold medal in your own style?’ Uno felt that by winning the gold medal, it would bring joy to others, so he put in a tremendous effort and won the Four Continents Championships. With that background, he declared, ‘I will go for it’ at the World Championships.”

It was a statement made with the sole intention of bringing joy to those around him.

“This seems really tough.”

In the following season, the 2018-2019 season, Uno’s competitive environment underwent a drastic change.

“I can only say that it was incredibly tough for me also.” Shinichi Demizu recalls

Uno ended cooperation with the skating club where he had been a member for many years. It also meant leaving a coach who had guided him for a long time. He entered the new season without a coach, as a new coach had not been chosen.

“Even watching him practice alone, I thought to myself, ‘This seems really tough.’ During competitions, it felt like he was participating with one puzzle piece missing because he couldn’t communicate with a coach who would say, ‘Do this.’ I couldn’t find a way to support him.”

In the Grand Prix Series event in France, Uno finished 8th. There were even moments when he sat alone in the Kiss and Cry area, shedding tears.

It was Stephane Lambiel who saved the situation. When they teamed up for the Kiss and Cry in the subsequent Grand Prix in Russia, it was officially announced that Lambiel would become Uno’s coach. From that point on, Uno regained his form and achieved even greater progress in his performances.

“I’m truly grateful to Stephane. We had a really good chemistry. Stephane also respects the skaters and is the type of person who supports and accompanies them.”

The 2021-2022 season was also memorable. Lambiel wasn’t in the Kiss and Cry during the team event at the Beijing Olympics. It was because Stephane Lambiel’s arrival in Beijing was delayed.

“It wasn’t due to COVID, but rather strict Swiss regulations that caused the delay, preventing us from making it in time for the team event. During that time, I was often by the rinkside, filming videos and having conversations, so it was decided that it would be better to have someone I knew there.”

Shinichi Demizu reveals his state of mind when he sat in the Kiss and Cry.

“I never imagined I would be able to sit there at the Olympics. I was genuinely happy. ‘Oh, this is what it looks like, this is how it feels.’ I can’t forget that view.”

In the team event (although the color of the medal is still uncertain), Japan won its first-ever medal. Along with the bronze medal in the subsequent individual event, Uno delivered a great performance. Shinichi suddenly shares a story.

“When I graduated from high school and decided to pursue a career as a trainer by enrolling in vocational school, I told my teacher about my dreams. I said, ‘When athletes win medals at the Olympics, I want to be the trainer standing next to them.'”

Witnessing Uno win the silver medal in Pyeongchang and sitting in the Kiss and Cry during the team event in Beijing, his dream came true. After that, Shinichi sitting in the Kiss and Cry became a common sight.

The 2022-2023 season also became a year that showcased Uno’s true essence.

“As my ankles are naturally loose, I’m always prone to sprains,” Uno has frequently dealt with injuries. The World Championships was one of those instances. He fell and got injured during an official practice.

“Since I always film the sessions and zoom in on the footage, I can see more than with the naked eye. I thought, ‘This is bad.’ I immediately handed the camera to Stephane and went straight to seek medical attention. There was a cartilage injury in the ankle and a ligament injury in the back.”

Uno chose not to withdraw from the competition, but there were concerns.

Coming down halfway and spraining it again, I thought, if that happens, the competition would be over. It’s not good to sprain the same area twice in a short period of time.

However, there was no intention of stopping Uno from participating.

“Basically, if he reaches a point where he can’t walk, then we consider withdrawing. But if he can walk, then he can go. Of course, from a medical standpoint, if he gets injured again… then it would be better for him to rest. Well, considering his physical condition, withdrawal is definitely the best option. But taking into account his personality and other factors, if it’s an injury with lingering effects, we absolutely stop him; otherwise, it’s a GO. It means fully respecting Shoma’s intentions and providing support.”

As a result, Uno achieved victory.

“Due to the inability to execute the jumps built up through practice, you could see his emotions in the competition, which was quite rare. He’s really resilient to pain, and he’s somewhat accustomed to spraining his ankle multiple times. The adrenaline was also flowing, so he didn’t feel the pain as intensely, which was a relief. After the competition, he said, ‘This part hurts too.’ As observers, we know that those parts must be hurting as well. But if he didn’t realize it himself, I decided not to mention it until the competition was over.”

He is now preparing for the new season.

“Currently, what he aims for is not just jumps, but the essence of figure skating: the performance, the transitions, the expression, the skating itself. He expressed a desire to start over and revisit those aspects of figure skating, so I hope it becomes a journey of complete skating. Rather than using the word ‘evolution,’ it’s more about finding a new form. I’m looking forward to witnessing the creation of the future for figure skater Shoma Uno. One of his strengths is being able to show a different expression from others. I admire his skating, and I want to continue supporting him in the future.”


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