Wakaba Smile” is back on the ice!
On July 2nd, Figure Skating Aqua Cup was held at “Aqua Rink Chiba” in Chiba City, Japan. 22-year-old Shinba Higuchi (Noevir), who finished 5th in the Women’s Figure Skating at Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, made her return to competition for the first time in 10 months since the Lombardia Cup in September last year. She made a mistake on a jump, and her score was 115.35 points, almost 25 points short of her best, to finish 3rd.
I skated with the thought, “Whether I failed or succeeded, it was interesting, fun.
Higuchi revealed her feelings immediately after her return to competition.
She had a delayed recovery from a fatigue fracture in her right shin, which was discovered after the Beijing Olympics, and announced midway through the season that she would take a full leave of absence last season. At that time, she announced through the Japan Skating Federation that she was going to leave the sport for the rest of the season,
I have achieved my goal in my skating career, to compete in the Olympics, and I have crossed a big mountain. I hope to recharge my batteries and show you another step up in skating, full of charm.
He commented, “I hope to recharge my batteries and show you another step up in my skating.
Higuchi was one step away from making the team for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, where she was considered a strong contender. She had to go through the four years of her life until the Beijing Olympics, with a sense of humiliation in her heart. This time, he regained his competitive spirit, saying, “I want to be able to compete at the top again,” and showed his determination to shine again in the 2023-2012 season.
On the second day of competition, she performed a new Coldplay song, “Fix You/Paradise,” in the free skate. After the finish, she could not stand up for a while and was breathing on her shoulders, but she received thunderous applause not only from the audience but also from the competitors, and her expression was full of a sense of fulfillment. In an interview afterward, Higuchi revealed her feelings that led her to take a rest.
After my injury, I played one match and then took a break, but there was a long period of time when I felt like I couldn’t bring myself to do it, and that it was difficult. Even when I practiced, I didn’t feel like it, and even if I couldn’t do a certain technique, I didn’t think much of it. I had a long period of “nothingness. I thought, “If I have to skate like that, it would be better not to skate at all, and I decided to forget about skating for a while.
Last December, she ran the Honolulu Marathon in Hawaii, USA. She ran 42.195 kilometers for the first time, and in February of this year, she appeared at an event with blonde hair. She is challenging herself to do “what I can only do now,” one after another,
I felt that there was something missing in my life. I felt that I liked to fight in some way, or to make my own goals and work hard.
Having taken the time to face her own heart, she naturally turned her feet to the skating rink.
She resumed ice practice on April 1. It has only been three months, but she succeeded in a series of Lutz-Toeloop triple jumps. She says she is jumping with less effort than she did before she took a break.
I have had a lot of ‘hard’ times in practice, but I have not had many ‘interesting’ times. I rarely thought of my technique or the intensity of practice in a positive way, but now I do it because I think it’s fun. That makes me want to do more and more, and I can practice more systematically than before.
I am feeling a positive response every day.
Seeing Higuchi so upbeat, one can’t help but wonder how much pressure he has been under. I remember December 24, 2017, six years ago. After the final day of the All-Japan Championships, Higuchi’s name was not on the announced team for the Pyeongchang Olympics.
The 2017-18 season has been strong from the beginning of the season, winning medals in two consecutive Grand Prix (GP) series events. She also competed in the GP Finals with Tomoko Miyahara (25), where the top six competitors competed. She was leading the race for the Olympic team, which had two slots available to women. However, she unexpectedly placed fourth at the All-Japan Championships, where she had previously stood on the podium for three consecutive years.
The ticket to the Olympics went to Tomoko Miyahara, the winner, and Kaori Sakamoto (23, Sysmex), who was in the same age group as Higuchi, in second place. Higuchi was only 16 years old at the time, but it was a painful sight to see her leaving the Musashino Forest Sports Plaza (Chofu City, Tokyo) with her eyes red and swollen, saying, “I’m sorry,” as she was hugged on the shoulder by a staff member.
In the car on the way back to his home,
Of course it’s frustrating, but we have to look forward. This is not the end yet.”
He tweeted his thoughts, “Of course it’s frustrating, but I have to look forward,
“I’m going to start doubling down now so that I can think that I can do my best because of what happened today,” he vowed.
I’m going to start doubling back now so that I can think that I can do my best because of what happened today.
She mastered the triple axel (triple-axel jump), a big move, at the risk of her own life, and polished her expressive ability.
Then, at the All-Japan Championships in December 2021, she beautifully expressed the magnificent world of the free skate “The Lion King. She danced with full of emotion, raised her arms and shouted, and cried tears of joy during “Kiss and Cry,” waiting for her score.
I have spent the past four years feeling frustrated. My life has changed since I became a member of the Olympic team.
These words condensed her thoughts and feelings of the past four years.
He had to cut down his body and mind to the utmost limit to qualify for the Beijing Olympics, and he was able to secure his ticket to the stage of his dreams. The one-year break last year was inevitable. After her recovery, she plans to compete in the GP Series this season, entering the third round of the Trophy de France (November 3-5, Angers) and the sixth round of the NHK Trophy (November 24-26, Osaka).
As Higuchi says, “I will consult with my mental and physical condition, and work at my own pace,” she will not suddenly kick into top gear, but she is eager to “get back” to the triple axel.
The Olympics is my dream, and I don’t want it to end after just one Olympics.
She will keep her feet on the ground and sharpen her skating for the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan-Cortina d’Ampezzo.
Interview and text by： Daichi Hadano PHOTO (1.5 photos)： Kyodo News (1st and 5th photos), Afro (2nd and 3rd photos)