Saturday, January 1, 2011

Japanese Nationals 2010: Interview with Nobuo Sato
Coach Nobuo Sato, December 26, 2010
After the Ladies' Free Skate

On Asada, On Kozuka
Q. Asada "overcame a great mountain" to achieve this result--what do you think of it?
A. I think it's a mental issue. I think that she was insecure about what she had been doing, but here, she gained the ability to skate with confidence.

Q. What was the reason she was able to change her insecurity into confidence?
A. I think it's that she's becoming able to do each jump the way she wants/imagines them.

Q. Is the quality of her jumps increasing?
A. Really, it's been recent, all of a sudden. While I was at the Grand Prix Final, it seems that something changed a little, and when I came back and started working again from the basics, everything just clicked.

Q. Is it more about carefully building upon her training bit by bit, rather than some kind of impetus?
A. Yes. Bit by bit things started changing, and recently her jumps became successful eight, nine times out of ten, and I think her confidence started to grow.

Q. Maybe it's because her increased success rate in practice has created confidence, but I think that her facial expression has become brighter?
A. Yes, that's true. In fact, she herself says this clearly.

Q. Is it her strength, that she became able (to do her jumps) at the most important competition?
A. Yes that's exactly right. From my perspective, I was thinking that it would be ideal if we had another month or so. For everything to suddenly come together now--I see it as a sign of her mental and emotional strength.

Q. Watching her before the start of the free skate at this competition, did you feel calm?
A. No, not at all. I'm the one who's astonished, but really, I just watched her and thought, '(Her) willpower and inner strength is not of an ordinary person.'

Q. After her program, you were looking up at the ceiling rinkside--at that moment, what were you feeling?
A. I was the one who was surprised, and I thought, 'Just as expected (of her)--what an incredible person.'

Q. What was the one area that you pointed to as essential, the one part you were concerned with most?
A. I apologize that this is going to turn into an extremely pragmatic explanation, but of course I had raised the issue of not making mistakes on her jumps as a first priority, and today, there was one small mistake in a 'boring' section, but I think that maybe something like that is just too bad/can't be helped, so today I'm satisfied.

Q. So you mean that in the middle of this improving and then not and then improving again, today was about positives?
A. Yes. I think that today ended with a good result for her.

Q. So the fact that she could put out a good performance today, will it help build her confidence even in practices from now?
A. That's true, yes. I think that will happen, without a doubt.

Q. Her stubbornly attempting the triple Axel in the short program--were you against it until the very end?
A. (laughs) Based on many past examples and what I've experienced, I still think it's in fact a bad tactic. But if she is going to work up her nerve (to attempt it), then what does the thinking of an old person matter. So I expected this one thing from her brimming energy, and with courage the decision was made.

Q. So in that sense, you mean that your and Asada's opinions were in agreement?
A. Yes.

Q. Have you ever wondered whether she would say, "I want to attempt two triple Axels"?
A. Well that, in a word--yes.

Q. So it's been half a year since starting the process of correcting her jumps in June--
A. It was September.
Note: The interviewer asked this question because it was announced that Asada started reworking her jumps in June. For Sato, Asada began this process in September, when she became his student.

Q. Taking June as when she began making a conscious effort to rework her jumps, she said that because she's spent this half year building upon her training things have been improving. Was this time very important?
A. I think much more time is necessary. And so, to put it frankly, that she could perform so well today is a huge surprise to me.

Q. Even more?
A. And so, from here I'm thinking that we want to work to raise her overall level a little. I don't know if things will break again, and I think that in some ways it's a gamble. But there's nothing we can do than endure and overcome it.

Q. This "reworking" was said to still involve fumbling around, but how far have things come now?
A. Things may very much still be at the level of appearances.

Q. How far has the "reworking" process as you ideally imagine it come?
A. I think we're still at the entrance.

Q. What does that mean?
A. If she skates with power, she'll generate more speed. And that will affect many things that are essential to jumps. And so, if we approach this with courage, how far can we go? I think it will take one year, two years. In the end, we can only take things one step at a time. But I still want to try.

Q. Are you very happy that this obstacle (i.e. Nationals, skating a clean program) has been overcome?
A. I am happy, and I am surprised.

Q. Can you compare her finished form to someone?
A. It's not that we hold someone as our goal, but rather that we're seeking what I want her to be like, based on my sense of things. However, I want to change things bit by bit, while taking care that things don't become a matter of simply what I want. Still, that bit by bit is scary.

Q. Based on today, is there sort of a specific goal for next time?
A. No, I think that the way she skates will be the same. I think that even if she becomes a little stronger and has more speed, it'll be a matter of a few percentage points.

Q. This reworking of her jumps, will you get into it again after the season is over? Or will you immediately continue the process after this?
A. I want to start things again right after this.

Q. Is continuing to compete an important thing?
A. Indeed, I think it is an important thing. Even if things are successful in practice, I think it's important to train while checking on how things are going by testing them in these situations and atmospheres.

Q. In important competitions from now on, what will be the key to bringing out her strength like today's?
A. I think it's only practice.

Q. Is this the confidence that is fostered through training?
A. I'll start slowly incorporating things that I refrained from saying before. This will require courage on my part.

Q. Yesterday, Kozuka said that practicing with Asada is a huge reason for his rapid progress--how are things from a coach's point of view? What is the synergistic effect?
A. There is a lot. For Kozuka, it's, "She is still practicing, and that much--I have to as well," and for Asada, it's "How can I achieve (his) speed?" There are things like this between them, both ways, so there is a lot of synergistic benefit.

Q. This is about Kozuka--do you think that he's changed a lot since last year?
A. I don't think so. Except, the parts that I would wonder, 'Will things soon start falling apart from here?' have stopped crumbling--I think this aspect is the biggest change. As a result I think that this has channeled into his self-confidence. Because he's a little scatterbrained he can get carried away--so in this sense, I think you can ask, 'Maybe he's really changed?' Still, I don't think there has been a large change fundamentally.

Q. How was doing things a little differently, such as going to Canada by himself to train?
A. Up until now, he's coasted on things that people around him have created for him, but he ignored that, and instead of riding in a taxi with his parents, he rode on a bus by himself, and I think that he must have had a lot of fun experiences, but of course he struggled by himself as well. He worked hard and was encouraged and supported by many people, and I think he learned a lot. I think that in some ways this was been more of a plus than actually learning things in practice.

No comments: