Mai Mihara: “I want to deliver my best performance at the World Championships, which is my long-awaited dream. I don’t want to just participate, I want to show my best skating.”
Article and small interview with Mai Mihara ahead of World Championships.
source: jbpress.ismedia.jp dd. 16 March 2023 by Takaomi Matsubara
! Please take into account that interview was translated via machine translation so it may not be completely accurate or conveying all the details and nuances. !
“It’s been a year so far.” Mai Mihara smiles.
“There was the Summer Cup in August, and it was decided that I would get two Grand Prix. They were the latter two events, so I arranged my schedule to include the Kinki Championship and the Japan Western Sectionals before that. The competitions just seemed to progress so quickly.”
Since the beginning of the new year, she won the World University Games for the second year in a row and competed in many competitions such as the National Sports Festival and the Challenge Cup in the Netherlands at the end of February.
“I think I’ve probably participated in more competitions this season than ever before.” She smiles again.
That smile seems to suggest the fulfillment of this season. Even by looking at her results, Mai Mihara has achieved the best results in her career.
Her first competition of this season’s Grand Prix Series was the fourth event in Great Britain. She placed first in the short program and also won the free skate, resulting in her first-ever victory in a Grand Prix event. She has competed in the Grand Prix series nine times so far (including the NHK Trophy, which was held in an irregular format due to the pandemic) and has climbed the podium, but has never finished first before.
Her second event was in Finland, where she also won, becoming the only female skater with two victories and securing her spot in the Grand Prix Final for the first time.
At the Grand Prix Final in Turin, Italy, she captivated the audience with her performance and achieved her first victory in her debut appearance in the event.
Among these competitions, Mai’s most memorable victory was in the UK.
There was a lot of pressure before her free skate at this event.
“I was extremely nervous,” Mai says.
Just before Maia’s final skate, Isabeau Levito (USA), who was in second place after the short program, gave a remarkable performance, setting a new personal best score.
“I could hear Levito’s score and the audience’s reaction. I had the impression that Levito was jumping everywhere during practice, and she had a fresh impression, so I knew she was amazing. I thought, ‘She really did a great performance,'” Mai recalls.
Considering the score that Levito achieved, there was no room for mistakes if she wanted to end the competition in first place. Naturally, there was a lot of pressure.
Still, she thought to herself, “Let’s focus on my own performance.” The result of overcoming the pressure was her victory. The joy of not giving in to the pressure was evident in her smiling face during the final choreography sequence. It was also apparent in the small, almost skipping, movements she made after finishing her performance.
This is how she explains the reason for her victory:
“Until now, I’ve made many mistakes that have caused my ranking to drop. So, I wanted to have a flawless performance where I didn’t make any mistakes from start to finish. This was the competition where that desire was the strongest. It may have added to the pressure to tell myself that, but I had a strong determination to do it. I had a feeling of breaking through a wall and rising to a higher level.”
This became one of the factors supporting her good results throughout the season. It was her persistent approach and unwavering belief in herself that enabled her to bounce back from setbacks and rise to a higher level.
Her endless passion for figure skating also played a significant role. In the 2019-2020 season, she was forced to take a season off due to illness. Despite this, she gradually recovered and returned to the world stage, showing further development. This is where her true strength lies.
The season of maintaining good results reaches its climax, the World Championships. It is a stage she will compete in for the first time in six years since 2017.
“I want to deliver my best performance at the World Championships, which is my long-awaited dream. I don’t want to just participate, I want to show the best skating I have done this season in both the short program and free program. I feel like I have been able to deliver performances that connect with the audience and judges this season, but I want to do a program that raises the level even more. I want to stick to performing while showing a higher level. When I achieve that, it will be a competition that I can end with a smile.”
Shoma Uno: “Once at competitions Lambiel, invited me to a restaurant to talk. “Don’t aim for perfection too much. Perfection is something that awaits you after you’ve done everything, not something you aim for.” he said.”