“When I thought about what was lacking, I realized it was confidence. So, I switched my focus on my strengths” Kazuki Tomono “god of pinch hitters” makes his road to Worlds as a direct qualifier for the first time
Article and small interview with Kazuki Tomono ahead of World Championships.
source: jbpress.ismedia.jp dd 8 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. !
Qualification earned through experience
Kazuki Tomono has sometimes been called the “god of pinch hitters.”
For example, at last year’s World Championships, Tomono, who was a substitute, was on his way to Luxembourg, the host city of one of the international competitions, the Coupe du Printemps. He received a call when he arrived at Frankfurt Airport, the transit point, asking him to participate in the World Championships due to Kaoru Miura’s withdrawal from the event.
As a result, Tomono competed in the World Championships, just three days after finishing the Coupe du Printemps. Despite the rush, he achieved over 100 points for the first time in his short program, earning 101.12 points and finishing third. Although he dropped to sixth place overall due to several jump mistakes in the free skate, it was still a valuable sixth place finish considering the short notice of his participation.
The same goes for the 2018 World Championships. Originally a substitute, Tomono finished fifth once he was given the opportunity to compete. The competition was significant as it determined the number of spots for the following season, and Tomono played a significant role in securing Japan’s “third” spot.
He has repeatedly taken on the role of “pinch hitter” and showed his strength each time.
This power, accumulated through numerous experiences, was demonstrated at the Japanese Nationals in December last year.
His numerous experiences proved to be valuable at the Japanese Nationals in December of last year, where some high-performing athletes struggled in the free program. Although he made a jump mistake in the first half, he completed the performance without other mistakes. As a result, he placed third and stood on the podium for the first time in his tenth appearance.
Looking back on the competition, he stated that he felt a different atmosphere, saying, “I’ve participated in many competitions, and I somehow had a sense of caution that if I didn’t pay attention, things might get rough, or there would be a unique sense of tension during the six-minute practice.”
He went on to say, “I had a hunch that if I focused on myself and didn’t get dragged into the atmosphere, I would get results,” as he stayed focused and aware of the atmosphere and tension while concentrating on himself.
It was precisely because of the experience he had gained over the years.
With his first-ever podium finish at the Japanese Nationals, Tomono was finally selected as a representative for the World Championships. He accomplished his goal of “getting out of substitute roles!”.
This season has undoubtedly brought some changes for Tomono.
Over the past few years, the contract with the sponsors who had been supporting him had ended before the season began. For skaters, this means a significant problem in continuing their careers, as it requires a considerable amount of money. Tomono has also mentioned in interviews after competitions that he is seeking sponsors. Additionally, skaters must belong to a club, so Tomono joined the Uenoshiba Skating Club where he spent his junior high school years and continued to participate in competitions.
Nevertheless, Tomono looked forward. He had an attitude of aiming for even greater results.
That is why he gained something from it.
After finishing 3rd in his first Grand Prix event in France, Tomono finished 3rd in the free program after finishing 4th in the short program in NHK Trophy.
After the competition, which ended just one step away from the podium with a 4th place overall, Tomono said:
“I’ve been facing my weaknesses all along, but they have gradually been overcome. When I thought about what was lacking, I realized it was confidence. So, I switched my focus on my strengths from today on and was able to compete with a great feeling.”
If looking at challenges is important, recognizing one’s own strengths is also important. For Tomono, this was a new perspective he gained.
By climbing onto the podium for the first time at the Japanese Nationals and earning the right to compete at the World Championships for the first time, not as a substitute but as a direct qualifier, Tomono’s season represents a symbol of progress despite difficulties, looking forward and gaining valuable experience along the way.
When we see Kazuki Tomono’s name, we think of his joyful smile. Especially in ice shows, he has captivated audiences with well thought out and creative performances.
Competing at the World Championships for the third time, not as a substitute but as a direct competitor, is a platform for Tomono to showcase his world throughout the competition.
In addition to captivating the audience with his performance, Tomono strives to reach greater heights by taking on the big stage.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: “A solo show like Hanyu did? I have no idea how he survived it. It’s insanely difficult! Even doing three programs in the show are very difficult to skate physically.”