Marin Honda, a professional skater, overcame “too high a wall”. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Marin Honda, a professional skater, overcame “too high a wall”.

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With a radiant face, she began her second act as a professional skater.

Honda performing at the 2023 All-Japan Championships SP.

On January 19, the “Prince Ice World” ice show was held in Tokyo at the Daido Drinking Ice Arena in Nishi-Tokyo City. Among eminent members such as Shizuka Arakawa (42), Daisuke Takahashi (37), and Masama Uno (26, Toyota Motor Corp.), there was Marin Honda (22, JAL), a female figure skater who announced her retirement. She performed “The Little Mermaid,” a Disney movie that she had been using for her free program this season, in a modified ice show version, and received a big applause from the audience as she stretched out with Ina Bauer and other moves. After the show, Honda responded in an interview with the audience.

When I was little, I once said, ‘I want to be in the ice show, so I’m working hard in the competitions. I like to skate in the stretch. Now that I could come to that place, I want to skate in various genres. I will try my best to express myself in various ways.”

Smiling at the press conference of “Prince Ice World

At the age of 14, she won the World Junior Championships, and was in the limelight as a prodigy girl, but after switching to the senior ranks, her performance was sluggish, and she did not achieve any outstanding results. Nevertheless, her dainty looks and innocent demeanor have made her one of the most popular girls in the world. Perhaps because of the gap between her ability and popularity, she has been slandered on the Internet.

While considering leaving the stage, she decided to live up to her name, which is a wish for her to lead an interesting, straightforward, and unwavering life, and she has arrived at where she is today. We look back on her twists and turns in her athletic career, including the All-Japan Championships last December, the last time she was active, and her remarks at the press conference she held in Tokyo on January 11 to announce her retirement.

I had already started learning to skate when I can remember, so, to put it in a really cool way, skating was a part of me,” she said.

With an ice rink close to his home in Kyoto City, he took to the ice at the age of two. He took to the ice at the age of two, playing ice hockey, swimming, gymnastics, tennis, and piano-o. Skating was one of the many things she learned, but the attraction of “having so many people watching you and only you” made her fall more and more in love with the sport.

She is the second daughter of five siblings. Together with her younger sisters, actors Mochiyui (19) and Sarai (16), she was featured as one of the three Honda sisters. Her first rival was her older brother Taichi (25), three years her senior, who started skating at the same time.

She said, “I am not the type of person who hates to lose, but I wanted to catch up with my brother in the family, to be told that I am better than him. When he was absent due to injury or entrance exams, I sometimes felt like quitting if he didn’t come back.

She has performed in many ice shows since she was a Novice (a class even lower than Junior), and has honed her ability to express herself . She is particular about the makeup she uses for competitions, and her technique and finish are so good that even the Olympic rhythmic gymnastics team uses her as a reference. Coach Mie Hamada, who once coached her, described her as “an artist with rich sensitivity and a high sense of beauty.

She won the World Junior Championships in 2016.

His flamboyant skating on the silver slate had earned him the nickname “Mao Asada’s second generation” among skaters, but it was at the 2016 World Junior Championships, where he competed in his second year of junior high school at Kansai University, that he quickly caught the public’s attention. Despite competing for the first time, she defeated the powerful Russians, who had won five consecutive titles, with a fearless performance, and became the first Japanese woman since Kanako Murakami (29) to win the queen’s title in six events.

In the 2017 competition, where two consecutive championships were on the line, she finished second behind Russia’s Alina Zagitova (21), who will win the gold medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. With the birth of a new star just before the PyeongChang Winter Olympics season, TV stations rushed to the Kinki Championships and other regional competitions. As a “click monster” who garnered a large number of PVs, the sports press reported on her every move not only in print but also on the Internet.

I was with photographers at all times, and there were many times when I thought, ‘I’m glad’ or ‘I’m happy,’ but of course there were times when I thought, ‘This is hard’ when I was a little girl.

I was still in junior high school at the time. I was too young to accept the torrent of changes in my environment. Then came the 2017-2018 Pyeongchang Olympics season. She won her first US International, but at Skate Canada, her first Grand Prix Series, she finished in fifth place after a late start, placing 10th in the short program. The momentum she had gained up to that point was gone, and despite public expectations, she was unable to get her gears back on track once they had gone haywire. She struggled so much that for the first time, she told people around her that she wanted to quit skating.

At the All-Japan Championships, which also served as the final Olympic qualifying round, she placed 7th. Her path to the Olympics was cut short.

She also placed 2nd at the 2017 World Junior Championships, showing her world-class ability.

When I was 10 years old, skating was one of my lessons, and to be honest, I felt like I could quit anytime I wanted to.

When I turned 16, it was a very difficult season for me, and there was a time when I took a break from skating for the first time of my own volition (after All-Japan). But when I actually took a break, I felt guilty, or I felt like I had to practice faster, so I only took a 4-day break, and by the end of the year, I had already resumed skating.

He moved his training base to the United States. For the first time in a long time, I could concentrate on my own skating, without worrying about what others thought of me. It made me realize how much fun skating can be. She said, “I was able to return to the starting point of sk ating,” to skate freely, without being influenced by the results.

A senior in the School of Political Science and Economics at Meiji University, he decided that the All-Japan Championships in December 2023, his last year as a university student, would be the last stage of his active career. When he slipped to fifth place at the East Japan Championships in November, where the top five finishers earn a ticket to the All-Japan Championships, tears naturally welled up in his eyes.

He was also cheered on at the 2022 All-Japan Championships.

The All-Japan stage is special for me. I have been able to reach it for 9 years, since I was qualified, and I really want to praise myself for that, I feel proud of myself.

In All-Japan, she placed 28th in the short program, the lowest rank. She did not make it to the FS. But she had no regrets.

“I was able to fight through as a figure skater and a competitor. I love the All-Japan stage, where I can perform in front of so many audiences, and this was the moment when I realized that it was my last time, and I was so happy.

As a professional skater, she has a role model to aspire to. Mao Asada (33), who made an impact at the Kyoto performance of the “BEYOND” ice show in November 2022.

She is more expressive than when she was active. I felt like I was shown what skating should be like. I was really impressed by the skating without sound and without jumps. I felt again that this is the kind of skater I want to be.

With her goal set, she has begun her second act.

It may not look like smooth sailing compared to her junior days, but she loves skating more now than she did then, and she is happier than ever.

Without hesitation, she will pursue the skating she believes in.

  • Interview and text by Daichi Hadano Photo Kyodo News

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