Shoma Uno, in a trying figure skating season, considered leaving the ice

Shoma Uno
Getty Images
0 Comments

There are two lasting images of Shoma Uno from the abbreviated figure skating season.

There is Uno, the Olympic silver medalist, hunched over, alone and without a coach, in the kiss-and-cry after the worst Grand Prix performance of his career in France on Nov. 2. He fell five times between two programs and finished ninth — 81.32 points behind Nathan Chen. Uno said he was in tears not because of his skating, but because of the ovation the crowd gave him to boost his spirits.

Then, on Dec. 22, Uno is half-crying, half-smiling. Yuzuru Hanyu is shaking him by the shoulders. Uno had just beaten Hanyu for the first time in his career, at the Japanese Championships no less.

Some time that autumn, Uno, now 22, gave thought to withdrawing from competitions and taking a break from the sport. He said this in a TV interview translated by a YouTube user. Uno’s manager confirmed the English subtitles to be “fairly correct.”

“The only difference is that the idea was never from him,” Uno’s manager said in an email. “It was presented from those people around him.”

Uno is the greatest male skater of his generation, perhaps ever, to not win an Olympic or world title (though he still has plenty of time). Competing against the two greatest jumpers in history — Chen and Hanyu — he has finished second or third on seven occasions among the Olympics, world championships and Grand Prix Final.

Uno, after leaving his career-long coaches last offseason, dropped from that echelon in the Grand Prix season.

“It’s true that, talking with many people, I considered quitting skating, but after delivering such a terrible performance, I didn’t have anything to lose anymore, so I just wanted to enjoy skating,” Uno said in the TV interview, according to the subtitles reviewed by his manager, though it was unclear the exact timing of the skater’s thoughts. “I talked to my family, and if skating causes me such distress, if it’s hard for me now, taking a break could be an option.

“We discussed a lot, but I felt that I wanted to skate and enjoy it, even if it meant delivering a similar performance again. I wanted to skate with all my might. I wanted to start over, to try one more time.”

After Grand Prix France, Uno finished fourth at Rostelecom Cup in Russia. After making the podium of all 12 of his Grand Prix starts to open his career, he was off of it in two straight. Uno, who had already worked some with 2006 Olympic silver medalist Stephane Lambiel, announced that the Swiss would be his official coach.

At Japanese Nationals just before Christmas, Uno erased a five-point deficit to Hanyu from the short program to prevail by 7.8 points. He limited the jumping errors, just one negatively graded pass between two programs, including five quads. Hanyu was less clean, falling on a triple Axel in his free.

“It was not my best skate, but I feel like I really enjoyed it,” Uno said then, according to the Japan Times. “I have had a really hard time this season and finally could enjoy the training and competition for the first time in a while. If everyone skates their best, the result should be different.”

Uno had for years felt inferior to the two-time Olympic champion Hanyu, who is three years older and six inches taller. Most other skaters must have felt the same, but Uno is a unique case being a countryman in the most popular skating nation.

“I’ve always wanted to win against Hanyu once, even just once, so even though I didn’t think it was actually possible, that goal motivated me,” he said, according to the English translation of the TV interview. “I’d even be OK with losing 100 times if I could win at least once.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Takeaways from abbreviated figure skating season

U.S. Alpine skiers wear climate change-themed race suits at world championships

U.S. Alpine Skiing Team Race Suit
Images via Kappa
0 Comments

Looking cool is just the tip of the iceberg for Mikaela Shiffrin, Travis Ganong and the rest of the U.S. ski team when they debut new race suits at the world championships.

Even more, they want everyone thinking about climate change.

The team’s predominantly blue-and-white suits depict an image of ice chunks floating in the ocean. It’s a concept based on a satellite photo of icebergs breaking due to high temperatures. The suit was designed in collaboration with Kappa, the team’s technical apparel sponsor, and the nonprofit organization Protect Our Winters (POW).

The Americans will wear the suits throughout the world championships in Courchevel and Meribel, France, which started Monday with a women’s Alpine combined race and end Feb. 19.

“Although a race suit is not solving climate change, it is a move to continue the conversation and show that U.S Ski & Snowboard and its athletes are committed to being a part of the future,” said Sophie Goldschmidt, the president and CEO of U.S. Ski & Snowboard.

ALPINE WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

Global warming has become a cold, hard reality in ski racing, with mild temperatures and a lack of snow leading to the postponement of several World Cup events this winter.

“I’m just worried about a future where there’s no more snow. And without snow, there’s no more skiing,” said Ganong, who grew up skiing at Lake Tahoe in California. “So this is very near and dear to me.”

What alarms Ganong is seeing the stark year-to-year changes to some of the World Cup circuit’s most storied venues.

“I mean, it’s just kind of scary, looking at how on the limit (these events) are even to being possible anymore,” said Ganong, who’s been on the U.S. team since 2006. “Places like Kitzbuehel (Austria), there’s so much history and there’s so much money involved with that event that they do whatever they can to host the event.

“But that brings up a whole other question about sustainability as well: Is that what we should be doing? … What kind of message do we need show to the public, to the world, about how our sport is adapting to this new world we live in?”

The suits feature a POW patch on the neck and the organization’s snowflake logo on the leg.

“By coming together, we can educate and mobilize our snowsports community to push for the clean energy technologies and policies that will most swiftly reduce emissions and protect the places we live and the lifestyles we love,” according to a statement from executive director Mario Molina, whose organization includes athletes, business leaders and scientists who are trying to protect places from climate change.

Ganong said a group of ski racers are releasing a letter to the International Ski Federation (FIS), with the hope the governing body will take a stronger stance on sustainability and climate change.

“They should be at the forefront of trying to adapt to this new world, and try to make it better, too,” Ganong said.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

U.S. Alpine Skiing Team Race Suit

12-year-old skateboarders earn medals at world championships

Chloe Covell
Getty
0 Comments

At the world skateboarding championships, 12-year-olds Chloe Covell from Australia and Onodera Ginwoo from Japan earned silver and bronze medals, respectively, in Sunday’s street finals.

In the women’s event, Covell took silver behind Brazilian 15-year-old Rayssa Leal, who was a silver medalist herself at the Tokyo Games.

Frenchman Aurélien Giraud, a 25-year-old who was sixth in skateboarding’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, won the men’s final in the United Arab Emirates. Ginwoo was third behind Portugal’s Gustavo Ribeiro.

The top Americans were Olympic men’s bronze medalist Jagger Eaton in sixth and 15-year-old Paige Heyn in seventh in the women’s event.

Nyjah Huston, a six-time world champion who placed seventh in Tokyo, missed worlds after August surgery for an ACL tear.

Up to three men and three women per nation can qualify per event (street and park) for the 2024 Paris Games. World rankings come June 2024 determine which Americans qualify.

In Tokyo, four of the 12 skateboarding medalists were ages 12 or 13.

Japan’s Kokona Hiraki, then 12, won silver in women’s park to become the youngest Olympic medalist since 1936, according to Olympedia.org. Japan’s Momiji Nishiya, then 13, won women’s street and became the youngest gold medalist in an individual event since 1936.

Worlds conclude this week with the men’s and women’s park events. The finals are Saturday.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!