A while ago Rika appeared in a Japanese tv program. The program was pretty long and unfortunately a full video of it isn’t available at the moment. However the program, cut in 6 parts, was uploaded on drive and translated by @juronom on twitter.
Parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Translation of the most interesting parts, done by Juro, please do not repost without credit.
Gutto Sport presenters commented that Rika is smaller in height than what her aura gives off. They ask Takeshi Honda and Akiko Suzuki about their shared skating experience with Rika.
T: We skated together at Kandai rink, so I meet her almost every day. I just met her yesterday too.
R: I lost count how many times I greet you already *laugh*
TH: She’s like *comes up to me* “Konnichiwa” (Hello), then skate away, then come back and “Konnichiwa” again.
A questionnaire with Rika on what she thought was her best weapon?
Upper left: Maintain positivity
Lower left: No edge error
Right: 3A (no 1)
The secret of her 3A:
- “The type that hasn’t been seen until now”-Takeshi Honda
- Comparison with legendary 3A by Japanese ladies:
o Midori Ito: height that can be comparable to men’s 3A
o Mao Asada: beautiful air position (vertical jumping posture)
o Rika Kihira: quick rotation, clear-cut (neat, sharp) 3A => allows her landing to be relaxed&free
On what she used as reference for her jumps:
“In the past, I used to refer to male skaters’ method of jumping quads, etc, carefully observe them. Then I always looked at Mao-chan’s amazing 3A as well. Recently, I rely on observation of) my own best condition, how much of the intensity of (practice) it can handle. Something like “When my muscles are at this condition, I should practice increase the intensity of my practice (practice many times).” On the other hand, if on that day, my jumps are off, I’d stop and let my body return (to its good condition) properly.”
Physical check: the secret why Rika can rotate so fast?
According to Prof Sakurai Tomono- researching on the mechanism of athletes’ muscles: her hip and thigh muscles can contract quickly.
Experiment for Rika: measuring the distance of one’s bunny hop from a kneeling position.
Average for boys: 41cm; girls: 20cm
Rika’s distance was 65cm
Another secret: Rika is very “obsessed” with her skates (including blades)
She brought the pair she was using at the moment to the set.
Each of Her skating boots, (like other skaters’), is meticulously customized. When the skates first arrived, she had to adjust the blades’ position and angle, how much they lean forward or backward, towards one side or another etc, by herself carefully. She couldn’t say she could adjust them to their perfect condition, but she tried her best to tune them to as convenient a position as possible for her skating, millimeter by millimeter. Not only the position, but the gap between boots and blades are also controlled. Even if the gap is one 1mm wider or narrower, her skating can be affected greatly, to the extent that she could either do 30 3As in one day or none with the boots.
It takes more than 2 weeks to get used to a new pair.
Presenter asked why she couldn’t keep using the same pair.
It’s because the leather will soften, especially at the area around laces. Rika said when there’re some leather materials coming off around that area, she can’t jump at all. She changed boots around every 3 months, and since the boots take 3 weeks to be produced, she couldn’t change to a new pair immediately, and must notice when the pair in use shows some signs of softening.
The presenters need to stop Rika before she talks forever about her skating boots-her obsession.
Rika: “And then, recently, this part…”
Everyone laughs: “She honestly can stop”
Questionnaire with Rika:
What does Rika have on her mind: 100% figure skating.
Takeshi Honda’s question: “Rika, is that really ok?”
It’s about her socks.
Skaters generally stick certain types of specially made socks produced by 1 brand when competing, but Rika is ok with any types of socks and doesn’t mind if her socks are ankle-length or longer. She just grabbed a random pair if she forgot her socks. (t/n: she’s actually using the kind of cute socks sold at tutu-ana (1000yen for 3 pairs) or gift shops lollll)
Akiko Suzuki’s question:
Akiko noticed that at ice shows, before eating, Rika always quickly takes photo before eating, but not in the manner suitable for posting food photos on SNS. Akiko thinks she did it to calculate nutrition value.
Rika: “After a day, I calculate my total calories intake. Combini food has calories value on them, but I don’t know the values for every separate item, so I took photos of everything, then calculate the amount later”.
Presenter: Is it hard to maintain (athletic) body form?
Rika: “Yes, I try as hard as I can. Even if I lose weight (or gain weight). If I lose too much weight, I can’t jump.”
Presenter: As a 17-year-old girl, you may want to eat things like sweets, drink tapioca tea etc…?
Rika: “Well technically I can, but when I eat things like cake or tapioca, which still adds to the amount of calories intake, meat, or such is still important, so I need to eat food that can be converted into energy correctly. If I eat cake or tapioca, my diet’s efficiency will be tampered with.”
Presenter: You can’t even after winning?
Rika: “But still, I still eat the food that can be converted to energy…”
Presenter: “Pizza and cola?”
Rika: *shake her head vigorously*
“If I sleep with an unfilled stomach, I feel like my muscles aren’t there. There are times when I was thinking about whether to get dinner or not, or just only eat the meat properly (not carbs), and then I felt like my muscles decrease, so I concluded that I must properly eat dinner anyways.”
Coach Hamada rating Rika:
“She is very disciplined. Her practice ability is very good, and she always has the drive to improve herself. Not in a reckless but proper way.”
Scoring (from upper left going right)
- Comprehensiveness (4)
- Linguistic ability (2): “I wish she could handle English questions in interview sessions or press-conferences. Since she is competing internationally, it’d be nice if her linguistic ability could be improved. Also, she may have more and more international friends, and international fans.”
- Performing ability (4)
- Decisiveness (4)
- Athleticism (5)
- Narcissist power(3) (t/n: lol what =)) but sorry it wasn’t mentioned at all)
- Talkativeness (2): “She doesn’t talk much. I’ve never heard her jokes”
- Humor (2)
- Girliness(4): “She has good sense of fashion, how to coordinate clothes.”
- Considerateness (4): “At ice shows, she always immediately wears and takes photos with all the presents from fans. She wants to send her gratitude to fans, and tell everyone she is really happy with the gifts, which she can’t do often.”
Rika: “Yes, I’m bad (at English). There are many times I want to tell (international fans) “I’m very happy that you support me”, but I don’t know how to. So I just *raise both hands and wave nervously while saying “hai (yes)” and nodding*”
Figure skating’s This and That – presented by Satoko Miyahara.
Top 3 Figure skating truths by Satoko
1. I’m very embarrassed when messing up the stsq.
2. I fight time difference (jet lag) every day.
3. I only forget important things. (Satoko’s story about losing her Olympics ID)
On practicing with Satoko:
Rika: “I practice with her almost every day.”
Presenter: So do you talk?
Rika: “Yes, but for things irrelevant to skating. Satoko normally said things like “I forgot my CD >_<”. Satoko-chan is really interesting”
Figure skating truths by Rika
1. What does she think throughout a 4-min performance?
“There’re many things I think about. For instance: “The axel is coming up next”; “It’s bad if I overdo this part”; “I can’t miss this axel”; “If I made mistake on this jump, all the jumps I landed until now will become meaningless”.
Asked about whether she had entered a “zone”, where she wasn’t thinking anything but everything went well.
“In the past, that happened to me a lot too, but recently, sometimes I don’t think when performing, and there’s excitement too. However, when looking at and understand the real event happening, and thinking that “I don’t want to repeat the mistakes I’ve made until now” …then (that thought) appears in front of me, and in my head, then I’d think that “I don’t want to this (repeat the mistake)” and reconfirm the jumps. When I jump, it’s unconscious reflex, but I think about my surrounding, my own conditions or even my nervousness.”
Presenter: It’s the positive feelings of being able to see everything.
Rika: “Yes, it’s like that”.
Choreography challenge with Ryouga Haruhi (t/n: Ryouga is known for playing male role in Takarazuka Revenue, a Japanese all-female musical theater troupe)
The program discussed the role of expression.
Presenter asked Rika what she does as supplement to her expression in figure skating.
Rika: “I do classical ballet around 2-3 hours/week, and I also go to dance school”
Presenter: Dance school? Like rock dance and hiphop?
Rika: “Yes, things like hiphop.”
*show vid of her practicing dance in the US *
Rika: “This is the dance lesson I had in the US, but normally, I have dance lessons that use more hip-hop-like music and more strong movements.”
Everyone complimented on her (and Satoko’s) beautiful movement.
Rika wanted to ask Ryoga about the way she and Takarazuka actresses use their expression, how they pose, and the angle of their faces.
Ryoga explained that expressions showed of male and female roles are opposite: soft and flexible vs cool, then she proceeded to give “posing” lesson. She showed the movement patterns of: female role, lower-class male role and upper-class male role.
Rika was asked to do the movement of “lower-class man” then “upper-class man” (the one with hand on her face) and she managed very well, receiving compliments from the presenters.
About the Nobeyama Kougen training camp, known as the place where “Golden-eggs” of Japan figure skating are assembled. Notable alumni: Mao Asada, Yuzuru Hanyu, Takeshi Honda, Shizuka Arakawa, Rika Kihira.
The training camp is 4 days long, with various training sessions from 8am-9.30pm. The camp’s purpose is to evaluate and search for skaters with potential and to check their living attitude as well, like how they conform to curfews, etc. Rika went to the camp 3 years ago, and she said it was very tough.
Rika: “(Being there), you have to worry about whether you will be seeded or if you will be assigned to any competition, and then there’ll be new comers…so in every aspect, you have no way but show you are the best one. Even off-ice physical checking is so tough, squatting/ running around etc, that on the next day, I can’t even move my legs or climb the stairs, but still have to perform programs.”
Presenter: Do you want to go back?
Akiko said being there makes you realize she was hand-picked from among all skating children in Japan. That really changes her working attitude and elevates her determination.
Video about legendary 3A by Midori Ito, done 1 minute before the end of her program at 1992 Olympics. The 3A has become the trail-blazer for future generations.
Rika: “I don’t think I can do 3A in the latter half at all. It’s already so tough to have it as the 2nd or 3rd jump but I don’t think I’ve ever tried jumping it 1 minute before the end of the program.”
Rika’s impression of Midori Ito: “I experienced challenging 3A but failing in competitions. The first time I met her, she comforted me: “Ahh 3A is very difficult. Though it’s difficult, I really support you”, such kind actions.”
Presenter: But you haven’t got any chance to talk to her leisurely
Rika: “No, I haven’t”
Presenter: Let’s do it now ^^
Midori Ito appeared: “You’ve worked hard” (to Rika)
“I’m so happy. You even remember the 1st time we met. That makes me so happy.”
Rika: “I do remember”
“It’s amazing. You can jump it (3A) stably now” to Rika.
Midori said she contemplated whether to do 3Lz or 3A when she was spinning in that program, then decided to do 3A. She asked Rika: “If you made mistake on the 1st 3A, do you think about the 2nd time?”
Rika: ”Well, but I’ve not thought about it in the latter half, really, (3A) in the latter half it’s sugoii…”
Midori’s secret for her super high 3A is to “skate with all her power at top speed”. Because she entered 3A at a very high speed, she can get to that height. She described that method of jumping 3A is like: “Doing long jump (a athletic sport) but rotating at the same time” (t/n: Rika’s face loll)
Rika said she didn’t jump 3A at top speed because she can’t control her axis.
Midori: “However, in my generation, we just focus on doing our jumps at high speed, but in Kihira-san’s generation, the programs have to be beautiful as whole, and in such programs, there is 3A. It’s a generation that (3A) isn’t effective if the programs aren’t beautiful itself. It’s amazing that there are beautiful programs but at the same time allow to do 3A efficiently.” *looks at Rika* Rika is very happy to receive advice from Midori.
Rika: “With this experience, I will try harder and harder every day in order to create a sense of stability. Then, I must perform quads cleanly too.”
Midori’s advice to Rika: “She’s very serious. She is already going forward while staying fixated to her goal. So, *looks at Rika* try to keep yourself in good health. You can’t suddenly jump triples or quads. You can’t say you’ll be free of injury at all, but you have to make compromises with injury and your body conditions. When you’re injured, there’re things you can’t do, so..but then, it’s vital to harmonize things you haven’t done and your techniques. It’ll be nice if you can try to balance those things. I hope that you’ll try your best.”
Rika’s aims: “This season, my first goal is to aim for the podium at the World championship, which I couldn’t do last season. Then, I will make my best effort every day towards my biggest dream of winning the Beijing Olympics.”