Kaori Sakamoto: “I really challenged myself in both programs, trying something I wasn’t good at. However, I think I was able to accomplish something significant.”
Interview with Kaori Sakamoto about World Team Trophy, past season and plans for the future.
Looking back on your performance in a free program at the World Team Trophy
Kaori Sakamoto: Well, the axis was really distorted on the axel, so I couldn’t control it properly. Despite that, I thought there was still a possibility to add a triple jump, so I tried it and it didn’t work out. However, I think it was good that I tried it like I did in the SP. I believe I was able to use what I have cultivated so far to land the loop without lingering on my mistake.
Looking back on the season
Kaori Sakamoto: Well, at the beginning of the season, I really struggled a lot. After winning a medal at the World championships and the Olympics, I heard from people around me that the following season would be really tough, and I really felt that. I had doubts about whether it was the right decision to take a break or not, but as I continued, I was able to learn a lot more than ever before, and I feel like I grew stronger mentally and physically. Winning both the Japanese Nationals and World Championships again this season was really exciting, and it gave me confidence.
About next season
Kaori Sakamoto: I don’t think next season will be as difficult as this season, so I want to achieve good results from the beginning of the season and prove it in competition.
About the Japanese team
Kaori Sakamoto: Well, the guys from the men’s team are making their debut, and they’ve been doing really well so far, so I’m really grateful that Shun Sato was able to come up and do well as a substitute. It’s really tough to come back and perform well in this situation. I’m also grateful that Kazuki Tomono has been doing well since the World Championships, despite a difficult schedule. I want to send a lot of energy from the rinkside to support them.
You seemed crying
Kaori Sakamoto: Yes, Mai-chan has competed in more competitions than any other skater this season and her hard work has paid off with this result, which made me really happy and touched. Mai-chan not only cares about herself but also about me, and always says kind words to me even when things aren’t going well, so I’m happy to have such a person close to me. I said that it’s lucky to have such a person and that made Mai-chan cry. And since I’m weak to tears, I ended up crying too.
Well, the Team Japan this year is really diverse in terms of experience, age, and so on. I think the 8 members selected for this team can each show their own strengths and stand out in their own way. It’s kind of, I don’t know, really fresh and quite enjoyable to compete.
Regarding the fall on the jump
Kaori Sakamoto: I fell on the toe loop, but even so, the percentage in my head that I can do it, that feeling of being able to do it, was higher than during the short program’s 3-3 combination, so I thought I had no choice but to go for it, and I jumped it with full power.
Did you rely on willpower?
Kaori Sakamoto: Well, yeah. I thought that was probably the best thing to do. Even though I couldn’t complete the triple-triple combination and missed the double loop, which resulted in a deduction of one point, I still got a score of 145, which I’m happy with.
Is it frustrating?
Kaori Sakamoto: Yes. I couldn’t finish both the SP and the free program clean, so that’s what I’m most frustrated about.
How do you feel about it?
Kaori Sakamoto: I think this will be a plus or rather, it taught me that I cannot finish here. So I want to use this disappointment to make progress for next season.
You competed in 11 times this year, right?
Kaori Sakamoto: Oh, did I compete that much? I reached double digits? Wow! Well, for me, doing a lot of competitions and constantly improving my program has become my routine and has helped me improve my performance. I think the more competitions you do, the better it is. This season ended like this, but I hope to have a good start to the next season from the beginning.
You competed through a season without Russian skaters, right?
Kaori Sakamoto: Well, because Russian skaters were not there, I was able to get on the podium even if I didn’t do well at Skate America or NHK, and that’s part of this season’s results. I think it’s somewhat of an excuse or a reason to say that I was able to get on the podium because they weren’t there. When they come back, I still need to have more consistency and be able to place confidently on the podium. I want to compete with the younger skaters with a fighting spirit.
You tried challenging programs, right?
Kaori Sakamoto: I really challenged myself in both the SP and FP, and tried the areas that I had struggled with in the past. Especially for the SP, (Muramoto and Takahashi walk by and wave) thank you! (Muramoto: “Good job!”) Good job! What was I saying again? (Muramoto and Takahashi: “Sorry”) I challenged myself in areas that I was not good at and had avoided in the past, and at first, I struggled a lot and was worried if it was the right thing to do. However, I think I was able to accomplish something significant and many people have commented that I have improved a lot. So, I feel like I’m evolving, and I’m glad I worked hard this season.
If you were to give yourself a score for this season?
Kaori Sakamoto: 70!
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