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About micaelis

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    Layback Ina Bauer

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  • Country
  • Location
    Lincoln, Nebraska
  • Interests
    classical music, art, literature
  • Occupation
    retired after a life spent as record store clerk, university instructor, supermarket employee and bed and breakfast employee

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  1. I've often wondered what techniques skaters have to prevent dizziness in spins. Ballet dancers engage in spotting, whereby they spot something in sight and keep their face facing it while the rest of their body is spinning, only letting go when they can't hold on any longer and whipping around their head to again see the spot, doing it repeatedly until the spinning move is finished. The thing is that ballet spins, at least those on the floor, are slow enough that they can use that technique. Figure-skating spins are often much more rapid. Spotting is not a practicable solution. So if anyone out there on the Planet knows how skaters hold off dizziness, let the rest of us know.
  2. I think it significant that we only momentarily see Yuzu's face in great detail. Most of the vid is just showing him almost in silhouette. The significance? Yuzu is so well known to the target audience that they really don't have to make any great effort to identify him. A skater of such slender build and obvious competence can only be one person in Japan. Enough said.
  3. If Yuzu might possibly be looking at something old to recycle my recommendation would be to go way back and not simply recycle but revamp. My recommendation would be RJ1 and PW. PW was his most successful program, being largely responsible for his victory at Sochi (because of the huge lead he brought into the free program) and 4 SP records. The two programs are far enough back that very few will remember them so they will seem almost new. If he goes for new programs, I would guess he already has the music chosen and edited, with the programs laid out in terms of the larger details. After that he might Zoom with his usual choreographers and start fleshing out the pieces. If the season does happen, with my thinking that if there is a season it will be highly truncated with just the various national championships and maybe Europeans and 4CC followed by Worlds. As mentioned in a previous post, however, my thinking is that the season will not occur. Once any cancellation occurs, however, you can be sure that Yuzu and every other skater still in the mix will start preparing for Beijing.
  4. In case any of you have missed it, today the ISU cancelled the Junior Grand Prix series. What that says about the fate of the senior Grand Prix I cannot say, but I have been thinking about the coming season in general and my feelings are growing increasingly pessimistic. The crucial factor seems to me to be the feasibility of international travel. As we get closer to the season's beginning there are still so many barriers to international travel that I think any practical solution is quite simply impossible. It's not getting the fans to their desired destinations but getting the athletes there, particularly at the required time. There might be a point where the borders between point A and point B are open but there is no guarantee that they will remain open. A sudden spike in cases of the virus might force a number of countries to ban travel between them and the virus-affected nation. In short, stability is what is required and it is stability that seems right now to be so far out of reach that the ISU may just have to bite the bullet and cancel the entire season. I hate to sound so dour but that is how I am currently reading the situation. Most of my posts I generally end with something upbeat but right now, looking at the potential of a cancelled season, I see nothing upbeat to end this post. Sorry about that.
  5. I've seen the video of the surprise visit Yuzu made. For those who haven't one important thing should be kept in mind, and that is that the visit almost didn't take place. In the car on its way to the school Yuzu was hesitant about visiting it. He didn't want to awaken bad memories of the students there. The city was one of the hardest hit by the tsunami. Out of a population of slightly over a hundred thousand over 3500 lost their lives, meaning there was a good chance that every student there knew someone who had perished. He decided to go ahead with it and perform the visit. His identity had been kept secret from the students although the faculty knew. When he entered the gym/auditorium and the students saw him there was an immediate screaming reaction of joy. I have a feeling that that instant was when Yuzu realized the positive impact just his presence (as one of the most prominent of those who survived the quake/tsunami) could have. I really think that that was when he realized that he could become an ambassador of hope for all those who were still seemingly without hope (many still are). It is his consciously taking up of that role and his subsequent performances that elevated Yuzu above the role of being a mere athlete and I am certain that his performance repeatedly in that role was a critical subtext that made him a recipient of the Peoples Honor Award. We have to realize that there is an almost mythic quality to the story of Yuzu during those years. Starting with his beginning to skate at the age of four, his decision to start competing by the time he was school age and his gradual though inexorable progress through the ranks, ending with his final year of junior competition where, in the words of one commentator "he won everything in sight" and then his progressing into senior ranks at the minimum allowed age of sixteen - that was the beginning of the myth. Then there came his first significant senior medal where he took bronze at the 2012 World Championships, his first time as a contestant at worlds. Then there were those very few years where he was seen as 'up and coming', those years where Takahashi was Japan's skating king. Yet the signs were there of the future king. Yuzu wasn't winning a great deal but he was already beginning to set records. With PW he set a short program record and then later broke his own record. Patrick Chan broke it (the only person in the historical records period to do so) but Yuzu reclaimed it two weeks later in the 2013 GPF and then at Sochi broke it yet again, at the same time topping the magic 100 points mark for the Short Program. That season was Yuzu's breakout year where he took the GPF, the Olympics and the World Championship. His image was even then taking on that mythic aura. We have to remember that his gold at Sochi was the only gold any Japanese in any sport received that year. He was totally in the spotlight but that aura of boyish innocence he projected made him someone the average Japanese could relate to. Yuzu's life and achievements became a major storyline for the Japanese media. Add to that his supreme good looks and the Japanese had what has become apparent over the years, their own very real superhero. The crowning achievements were threefold. First was those two incredible weeks in 2015 where Yuzu, at the NHK and GPF, took complete control of the record books doing something without precedent in the history of men's figure skating. There were the two significant defeats at Worlds 2015 and 2016, but there was the mythic element there that he was bested by his training mate. Then the transcendent victory in Worlds 2017, where coming from behind he took the crown by turning in a record-setting free skate. Then came the Olympic year, derailed by that fall seen around the world in that practice at NHK, forcing Yuzu's retirement (hopefully just temporarily) from competition. There followed the incredible silence where nobody really knew whether he would ever skate again, much less make the Olympics. There came bits and snippets of news telling a breathlessly awaiting fandom that he had finally returned to the ice, mere weeks before the Olympic competition. The skating world awaited with bated breath. The waiting was ended when he came to Pyeongyang, entering public view surrounded by uniformed security as if he was an arriving head of state. An impromptu news conference followed, showing Yuzu's ability to instantly attract journalists from around the world (they weren't all Japanese there). Following that were then his performances, where his legions of fans awaited to see their hero (not just the competitions but the practices also). His short program didn't break the world record (which he held, by the way) but did set an Olympic record. The world was able to see that Yuzu was in full form. His free skate was enough to clinch the gold, though he faltered twice but never touched the ice along the way. When it was finally apparent to him he had taken the gold we have those unforgettable images of him shedding tears (of joy, of relief, certainly not of sorrow). His true stature as a hero was revealed there, for authentic heroes are capable of tears. They would not be heroes otherwise. Then followed the scenes of tearful joy with Javi and also Yuzu's efforts to keep Shoma involved, also. He did not want Shoma left out. He never has. It seems to me Shoma is almost like a little brother to Yuzu (remember Yuzu crawling on hands and knees behind Shoma and out of sight of the journalists at a press conference). There came also the revelation that Yuzu had skated while on painkillers, a fact which underlined the sheer determination he had to capture that second gold. What has followed since then has all the making of the continuation of that legend. A foe has arisen, one whose abilities are remarkable though not of the same scale and authenticity as Yuzu's are. Everything seemed to be heading toward a showdown at World's 2020. Fate, however, had other plans, and we are still wondering just how those plans are going to fulfill themselves. Everything right now is veiled with uncertainty as an epoch-making natural event, this pandemic, has taken the spotlight everywhere from all the everyday concerns of human life. Two champions await offstage preparing themselves for a showdown and the skating world awaits wondering if that showdown will actually ever occur. If it does, we can see who will prevail. Superheros may have kryptonite to contend with but in the end they always triumph.
  6. The fate of the Olympics? First off, the comment one person made about the financial aspects of the Olympics was correct. The postwar (WWII) Olympics have had increasing costs and cities have been increasingly reluctant to commit. As it was, when looking for a host for the 2024 summer games several cities withdrew from the competition leaving only Paris and Los Angeles remaining. Seeing the writing on the wall the Olympic committee decided to choose both, Paris for 24 (its other Olympics were in 1924) and Los Angeles (its 3rd time as host) for 28. Significantly the 1984 LA games actually turned a profit, the only one I know of to do so. For LA most of the infrastructure is in place so it will not have to engage in some big building boom (essentially just the Olympic Village and venues for some of the many recently added events). It has several large stadiums to hold some of the more exotic field events but with two large universities in the area (UCLA and USC) it has their venues that it can use. We should, however, look at the likelihood that by the end of the year or early next year a vaccine will become available. Infrastructure to produce the vaccine will be widespread so its rapid production and implementation will be possible. Economies will be recovering by then although the legal shenanigans involving bankruptcies and liability will become a major industry in a number of them. I doubt that Tokyo will be cancelled. It was ready to do the games this year so it can easily remain ready. Significantly, since the last three of the last four major pandemic threats have all originated in China and with China being very adversely effected both economically and politically by its handling of the situation, the next time a virus threat originates there we can assume they will be more than forthcoming in getting out the news. China's withholding of pertinent information on the current virus along with its pitiful attempt to blame it on others and portray itself in heroic terms is not gaining any traction outside of China. We should not rule out, however, that political events involving Chinese treatment of Moslems in its southwest and its cancelling of its obligations regarding Hong Kong under the treaty it signed to make Hong Kong part of it might lead to a possible boycott by Western powers. It is unlikely but it is nonetheless a possibility. Only time will tell. I think, however, our concerns should be about the forthcoming skating season, whether it will be delayed, modified, or just plain cancelled. Canada has opened its borders to a select number of nations (if my information is correct) although its borders with the US remain sealed tight. If and when Japan is on the approved list it will be possible then, I think, for Yuzu to make the journey to Toronto. TCC is operating now so once Yuzu gets there it will be all systems go. I imagine Yuzu has done everything he needs to in preparing for getting back to the ice, using the rink in Sendai to keep himself in shape, choosing the music for this next season's programs, laying out ideas for costumes and such (don't forget, he edits his own music and has done so for some time). I also have a feeling that he has probably finished much of the work he needs to do to earn his university degree. He does not strike me as a person who likes to waste time. In any case we have only one option, and that is to bear with the situation as events unfold. At least we know that Yuzu is healthy and has access to ice.
  7. That's why he got the Peoples Honor Award. Yuzu is not only a complete skater, but a complete human being. His services to Japan are too numerous to itemize but I would venture a guess that Yuzu has the highest 'trust' factor of anyone in public life in Japan. Part of that 'trust' is that he does not put on any airs, shows no arrogance and readily opens up to those of the lower strata of Japanese society. He is not a snob and treats the lowliest person he encounters as if that person were the emperor. We see that also in the numerous kiss and cries where he bows to his coaching staff, recognizing the part they have played in making him who and what he is. I think the only display of superiority he shows is in his trademark jumping up to the gold level part of the podium. That and his trademark entry into a triple axel.
  8. This is the only post I will do on the pandemic, but I'm bringing up a situation of which many might not be aware. Right now in the United States there is an explosion of new cases, particularly in those states that have 'opened up'. The media here are having a field day in citing these figures and concluding that things should not have opened up so soon. What they are ignoring is the fact that there is not a corresponding spike in fatalities. The reason? The overwhelming number of those now certified as being Covid-19 infected are those who are young and healthy, those who were overlooked earlier when testing wasn't so widespread. They are the ones who do not require extreme quarantining to deal with the virus. What's the significance? In many respects lockdowns weren't even required. Just firmly isolate those who are most vulnerable (the elderly and immuno-compromised) and let the rest of the population deal with it just as they deal with the seasonal flu and common cold. It also means that, if combined with mask-wearing, many public events can proceed as normal. Remember the audience at 4CC this year. You had to look hard to find someone there who wasn't wearing a mask. The vast majority in the stands were probably Korean but there was no subsequent spike in South Korea after the competition. I am of the opinion that even now travel restrictions can be largely removed and that for activities like figure skating things can be returned to business as usual. This doesn't mean that all preventive measures should be discontinued, but I do think lockdowns are not needed now and that the emphasis should be on getting things back on track. Certainly I am hoping that we can get things back on ice as soon as possible.
  9. What puzzles me is the sheer stupidity of the ISU in regards to Yuzu. He's the biggest cash cow they've ever had. His presence in a competition guarantees a sell-out and since they sell whole-competition tickets before single event ones, it means that the whole competition is sold out. His presence in a competition also guarantees higher ratings because there are huge numbers of people who might not watch the proceedings if it weren't for him. His presence also means that there are a ton of hotel rooms booked that wouldn't have been otherwise, and tons of restaurant meals served that wouldn't have been otherwise. It also means concessions at the arena would see higher numbers because he's in the arena. It means that there will be a higher number of journalists there (not just Japanese because the media know that Yuzu is popular well beyond the Japanese isles) who wouldn't be there. In Japan, of course, Yuzu rules. (I think one of the reasons Daisuke was able to console himself with Yuzu's taking the spotlight in Japan is realizing that how can one hope to compete against a GOAT). Beyond Japan Yuzu has a higher profile than any other skater in any of the four disciplines. If I were the ISU I would dread the day when Yuzu announces his retirement because he's the goose that lays the golden eggs. A final note - When Yuzu retires the market for Pooh plushies will crash.
  10. I think all of us should start thinking that the upcoming season will probably consist of national championships, European championships, 4CC championships and world championships. The logistics of both the GPS/JGPS and the various challenger competitions will be too prohibitive. The main issue will be border controls, with some nations having fairly open borders and others still in various levels of isolation. Right now the EU is open to travelers from a fair number of nations but prohibits travelers from the US. Add to that the border situations and self-quarantining regulations I just don't see things getting untangled enough by late summer for the 2020 parts of the season to take place. As for Yuzu's situation I think it will not be prohibitive for him to travel to Toronto. His mother? If we look at the history of many years' duration an argument can be made that she's necessary. One thing we should remember is that since she's a family member she can't simply be replaced by a Canadian. Another thing we should remember is that Japan is not the US and regulations involving travel between Canada and Japan might be considerably less strict than those between the US and Canada. We'll have to see. To use a comparison, Stephen Gogolev right now is stuck in Canada. He can't get to his training locale in the US, even though it is up and running and the situation of travel between the US and Canada right now seems likely to continue well into autumn. I would think, though, if Jason was able to make it from one direction Stephen might be able to make it going in the other direction. I think everyone should be able to see, however, international figure skating competition right now is not going to happen in the remainder of 2020. It's that simple.
  11. I think initially Yuzu accepted Brian's guidance, most particularly when he first came to TCC his major objective was to learn to do quads consistently. Instead Brian, and even moreso Tracy, made Yuzu go back to basic skating skills, essentially helping him to have the foundation to then go and start dealing with jumps. The 2013/14 season, the season of Yuzu's first GPF gold, first Olympic gold and first World Championship, I am pretty sure that Yuzu began to indicate where he wanted to go, although he probably was not getting his way always. All that changed after those two weeks in late 2015 when Yuzu simply rewrote the record books. After that I'm pretty sure that the TCC staff existed in basically an advisory relationship with Yuzu. It's very difficult for a coach to tell an athlete who is widely being regarded as the GOAT exactly what he must do. Since then I'm pretty sure that Brian and the others can offer Yuzu advice but no commands. The one thing that made the TCC staff willing to settle for that sort of relationship is the fact that all this took place behind the scenes. Yuzu is not a prima donna. There is no arrogance to be found in him except once in a while after a nearly perfect skate, when I sometimes detect an 'I told you so' moment. I really think that Yuzu gets his way not so much by ordering others but simply by doing what he intends regardless of what others are saying and advising.
  12. There's truth here. For Brian and Javi skating is a sport, a profession, something like that. For Yuzu skating is a religion. It's the one great reality for him and he builds his life around that. It's that simple.
  13. Speculation about Yuzu's return flight is premised on his using commercial airlines. The thing is that he has the financial resources to go and charter a flight for himself and his mother. Lears are not feasible as they don't have the range to cross oceans. A Gulfstream 550 or 650 can easily handle the Tokyo (or even Sendai) to Toronto distance. They can handle up to 18 passengers and they can fly on whatever schedule is most conducive. They even have a separate sleeping cabin with a double bed in addition to main cabin seats that can fold down into cots. With just (I presume) Yuzu and his mom plus a cabin attendant on board Yuzu can afford social distancing and also can take his choice of sleeping, studying or pigging out on video games. All in all chartering a jet would be a win/win solution for Yuzu's return to Canada.
  14. In the video which documents Yuzu's visit to the school it is shown that he was tempted to cancel the visit because he didn't want to awaken bad memories in the students. And there were plenty of bad memories to be awakened. Ishinomaki was one of the worst hit towns from the tsunamis, with almost all of its residential area destroyed and well over three thousand (of a population somewhat over 100,000) deaths resulting. Yuzu finally decided it was his duty to respond to the students who had sent the flag with its messages of support to him. He was as surprised as the students (for different reasons) when he entered the gymnasium there and saw the screaming adulation his entrance elicited. I think that was possibly the point where he realized that just his presence could help those less fortunate than himself to have a positive attitude as they attempted to put their lives back together again. I have a suspicion that that event, which took place in the months after the 2013/14 season had ended, helped Yuzu realize that he could use the achievements that had made him at that time Japan's most prominent athlete to good effect in outreaching to those who had suffered far more than he had and attempting to raise their spirits. Quintessential Yuzu!
  15. We know that his father was once a baseball player, but that is all we know, and we know that not from Yuzu but from Kurt Browning. We don't know how high his father was, or even whether he was on the professional level, nor how long his father played. We do know that Yuzu at one time contemplated being a baseball player. On the general level of Yuzu and his family Yuzu has been very close-mouthed. He protects their privacy assiduously and I think that is one reason why he is so much a hermit in Toronto. He doesn't want his mother to become known to the general public and he knows that that could very easily happen in Toronto. I am amazed that he appears to have managed to conceal where he lives in Sendai. He doesn't want his home to become like Ice Rink Sendai has become, a very popular destination for tourists that is NOT in the official tourist guides. I have a feeling that aside from his sense of patriotism he might actually prefer being in Toronto since when in public there he is still relatively unknown. That is not the case in Japan where his face has got to be one of the two or three most recognized faces in Japan. I doubt that there is any public figure in Japan who has had his or her face on the cover of magazines or in the pages of newspapers more than Yuzu, not to mention in interviews and documentaries on TV.
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