Silver Medalist Yuma Kagiyama’s Blueprint to Surpass Shoma Uno by Enhancing His Expressive Power | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Silver Medalist Yuma Kagiyama’s Blueprint to Surpass Shoma Uno by Enhancing His Expressive Power

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On July 8, the All-Japan Figure Skating Training Camp was opened to the press at the Kanku Ice Arena (Izumisano City, Osaka Prefecture). What stood out was the performance of Yuma Kagiyama (20, Oriental Bio/Chukyo Univ.), a men’s silver medalist at the Beijing Winter Olympics, who is aiming for a comeback from a left ankle injury.

Yuma Kagiyama performing at the Beijing Olympics

Despite concerns about the impact of his injury on his jumps, he performed a spectacular quadruple salcoe, and his technique, described as “cat-leg landing,” utilizing the softness in his knees inherited from his father, who has competed in two Olympic Games, was also in good shape. Both “Believer” (SP) and “Rain, In Your Black Eyes” (FS) are continued from last season, but the expressive power has been polished so much that some people concerned said , “It doesn’t look like the same performance,” which foreshadowed his comeback from last season, when he couldn’t compete in international competitions.

The press naturally focused their attention on Kagiyama in the rink, where the top skaters such as Yoshio Miura (18, Oriental Bio/Meguro Nichidai High School), winner of the Four Continents Championships and World Junior Championships last season, and Kota Yamamoto (23, Chukyo University), runner-up in the Grand Prix Final, were all gathered.

He accelerated his skating movements as if warming up his body slowly, and when the announcement was made, “SP ‘Believer’ will be performed,” the audience was hyped  In the first half of the program, he performed a sharp triple axel (triple jump), and in the second half, he tightened up the program with his free and easy expression, stepping lightly to the male vocalist’s voice. Keyama, who showed the difference from last season, when he was all-out vigor, said, “In the short program, I added power to my performance, and I was able to show my ability to compete.”

In the short program, I added power and softness. When I listened to the lyrics, I didn’t feel like I had to be strong all the time, so I wanted to perform the program with energy and balance, while being conscious of being relax.

Keyama went to the U.S. in mid-May to brush up on the performance with choreographer Shaylin Bourne.

The song itself is powerful from beginning to end. If I skated 100% to the music, I and the audience would get tired. It would make me and the audience feel breathless, so I made a good balance between the powerful parts and the parts where I relaxed. By doing so, I was able to create a strong sense of three-dimensionality in the program as a whole. I think you won’t get bored watching it.

With Beijing Olympics bronze medalist Shoma Uno (left)

After the All-Japan Championships in late December last year, he devoted himself to the treatment of his injury. He resumed ice practice in March this year. In March and April, he traveled to Italy to receive advice from choreographer Laurie Nicole, who has worked with many famous athletes including Mao Asada, and Carolina Kostner, bronze medalist in women’s skating at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. During the theater lesson given by Laurie, the students tried their hand at pantomime. He recommended that he incorporate “compulsory,” in which he draws detailed figures on the ice with his skates, into his daily practice.

“Since I came back to ice practice, I have been practicing skating very intentional, such as fine step work, and I feel that my skating has become more delicate than before. I think my jumps are also approaching the level they were before my injury. Now, I just need to improve my stability and keep practicing until I gain confidence.”

There is no doubt that Kagiyama is feeling a solid response. As for his free skating, “I have been trying to incorporate various beautiful poses, and to capture each and every note. I think I have grown since last year in this area.

In mid-June, he successfully performed a quadruple flip in his practice.”

“I have a good feeling about each jump when I skated through the program,” he said. Now, I hope to improve my fitness, and compete in the competitions.

Keyama’s jumps are among the most beautiful in the world. His jumps are characterized by a graceful skating speed, which is not compromised by the speed of his skating. While most skaters slow down before the step-off, Kagiyama jumps at top speed, which adds distance and height to his jumps.

He is further advancing the technique inherited from his father.

This is an advanced technique given to him by his father, Masakazu, and has been ingrained in his body through repetition since he was jumping single-turn jumps. After jumping at top speed, he skillfully uses his soft knees to skate smoothly after landing on the ice. Even after his injury, there was no sign of a decline in his technique.

He is scheduled to compete in national competitions in August, and will return to international competitions in early September at the Lombardia Trophy in Italy, taking his steps toward recovery slowly and unhurriedly, with an eye on the Cortina d’Ampezzo Olympics in Milan in two and a half years.

“I’ll have only one kind of quadruple at most,” he said. “I want to be conscious of perfecting my routine. When I get used to it, I would like to try more aggressive compositions at the Grand Prix Series.”

The highlight of the first half of this season will be the NHK Trophy, the final round of the Grand Prix Series in late November, where he will face off directly with two-time World Champion Shoma Uno (25, Toyota Motor Corp.).

The level of competition in Japan is really high, so I’m really excited about competing. If you look at the world, there are many things to learn from the athletes with various personalities, such as quadruple axel and amazing expressions. I hope I can absorb them well, and I myself will do my best to stand out with this season’s program when I go out into the world.

The start of the exciting new season is approaching.

  • Reporting and writing Daichi Hadano PHOTO JMPA (1st and 3rd photos), Afro (2nd photo)

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