Ice Network

Uno: 'I'm still in the process of making it complete'

Japanese star surprised to be at Grand Prix Final for second year in a row
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Shoma Uno says that his ability to concentrate is one of his greatest assets. -Getty Images

Shoma Uno, the diminutive dynamo from Japan, is a firecracker on the ice. He won the Junior Grand Prix Final last year and qualified for the senior final this season, a feat few others have achieved. Uno is the youngest senior male skater in Barcelona; he turns 18 in just one week, on Dec. 17. In his shy and unassuming, yet determined, way, he generously agreed to talk to icenetwork about being in the Final this year and his objectives for the future. (Note: This interview was conducted through his agent, who served as an interpreter.)

Icenetwork: What do you think of qualifying for these two Grand Prix finals, one year after the other?

Uno: Being here is kind of a surprise for me. Last year, I was here in Barcelona, watching the senior Grand Prix Final from the stands.

Icenetwork: Last year you said, "I know I have a long way to go to reach the seniors' level, but I will be watching their expression and skating skills." And now?

Uno: I'm so glad to be here in the senior final -- this time not watching!

Icenetwork: Your short program has incredible energy.

Uno: Except for the quad, I did well today. I went through the whole program, so I think that was good. I felt good energy throughout the program. I made a mistake on the quad, however, which I regret.

I think I was thinking too much before the quad; maybe that's why I missed it. Also, I felt a little bit shaky during the six-minute warmup, and I made mistakes on the triple axel and on the quad. Maybe that made me nervous, too. Maybe I pushed a bit too much to show what I can do in practice. Maybe I was too aggressive.

Icenetwork: You are a strong jumper on the ice, with a very reliable triple axel and quad.

Uno: Oh no, I don't see myself as a big jumper! I would like to improve (in that area). I need to go one step by one step. What I would like is to perform beautiful jumps, and land them cleanly.

Icenetwork: Watching you compete, you expend a lot of energy and always skate your heart out, and at the same time, you remain completely focused and determined. How are you able to skate that way?

Uno: I always try not to hear or listen to the audience and what surrounds me. I concentrate completely on the way I should skate and on what I should do.

Actually, that's one thing I can do: concentrate! (laughs) At the same time, I really want to show and share what I do in practice.

Icenetwork: How does it feel to skate on the same ice as all these other great skaters, and to be one of them?

Uno: Actually, I would love to watch all these great skaters around me during practice, but I can't! I need to concentrate on my own skating. And I'm happy to be with them.

Icenetwork: What is your goal here?

Uno: My goal would be to make my skating complete: jumps, spins, steps, choreography, music. I'm still in the process of making it complete. It's a step-by-step process. I would like to do what I can do during training at this competition.

Icenetwork: In what aspects, for instance?

Uno: I need to land my jumps cleaner, and work more with my upper body. I'd like to skate with more flow, and make my skating more beautiful.

Icenetwork: What did you think of the marks of your fellow countryman, Yuzuru Hanyu?

Uno: There is nothing I need to hide or be shy about. This is my first season in the senior ranks. I would like to follow his steps.

Icenetwork: What relationship do you have with your music? You skate to "Nessun Dorma," that famous song from Puccini's Turandot, where the hero sings "Vincero! Vincero!" which means "I'll win! I'll win!" Is that the way you feel?

Uno: I've come to understand the lyrics of that song. But it's not only about winning! If I end up in sixth place here, it will just be fine for me -- on one condition, however: that I am satisfied with my performance. If I'm satisfied, that is, if I skate at the level I practice in Japan, then it will be fine.

Icenetwork: You get a lot of attention from the media here. How do you like it?

Uno: (with a huge smile) I'm so glad! I'm happy!