How is it that our best intentions, for the betterment of noneother than ourselves, seem invariably to become derailed, laid aside, remembered only now and then with an accompanying jerk of guilt? Usually it's no great thing which throws me off track, causes me to give up for weeks (months) at a time a new diet plan, exercise plan, sleep plan, budget, blog, so...why? A cold, a sore shoulder, too much coffee, too little sleep, a sale, the Olympics. In short, anything or nothing.
I gave up daily push-ups after throwing out my shoulder trying to throw a baseball too far (don't show off for your kids if you're over 37). Alas and alack, during the week it took for my shoulder to heal, I was able to think of any number of excuses not to start exercising again when my shoulder did feel better--and in less than a parsec that space of open time was erased by an incoming tide of other "things to do". The time just seemed to disappear out of my day. Where did it go? I do wonder...
So what's my excuse this time? Too much olympics, two sick kids, and a feverish, sick, sick, me...(singable to 12 Days of Xmas). Mostly, too much olympics. Long time skating fan (chinese zodiac--monkey. skating zodiac--Peggy Fleming), *loved* the skating this olympics. I told my mom 4 years ago after Torino that the next olympics was going to come down to two (at the time) little girls-- Asada Mao from Japan and Kim Yu-Na from Korea. (Bowing) thank you, thank you very much. In spite of the fact that I live here in the Land of the (Cute) Rising Sun, and I've been pulling for Mao-chan to bring home the gold.... well, it was Yu-Na's to take home this time. Were the judges on the Yu-Na crack with a 150 point LP score? Maybe. But the gold was hers, no question. Several things came together for Yu-Na this time--good coach, music that suited her style well, smart move to Toronto to train (less paparazzi for her), no 3X....
My heart broke watching Mao be interviewed by the Japanese press just after the LP (before the medal ceremony--so she had to keep dabbing at her eyes so's not to smear her mascara)--poor kid stood there beating up on herself over singling a triple toe. I have read comments on other blogs and skating forums saying that Mao was "stubborn"--insisting on keeping the 3X in the program, in spite of problems landing it, not changing the music, not going to Russia to train with Tarasova, staying in Japan instead. I have to defend Mao here. It's not stubbornness!! Mao is a "Gambari-ko" and an "Akiramenai-ko", two major parenting goals for Japanese parents (at least judging from the titles of parenting books in bookstores over here, and listening to mom friends talk). "Akiramenai" is "won't give up". "Gambaru" is "perservere". We hear people say "don't give up" in English fairly frequently. "Perservere!"--not too often. It would be hard to overstate how often that word is said in Japanese--a hundred times a day is probably low. The maternity nurse said it to my oldest son 3 days after he was born (we were having trouble with breastfeeding--he couldn't latch on right. So--"Gambare!!" came the natural response from the nurse. He did, too--latched right on. I was hum-dingered. How the heck did he know what she meant?). "Gambare!" is something that can be shouted casually to a stranger by way of friendly encouragement. When Mao started having trouble with her 3X (I watched her fall on the *take-off* for her 3X one time--fell hard on her side, slid clear across the ice, and slammed into the wall. ouch.), she simply would not have taken it out of her routine. She would not have blamed her coach. She would simply have thought, "I can't give up. I must not be working hard enough. I have to perservere! Gambaranitoikenai!" What looks like stubbornness through western-colored glasses, is Gambare-spirit if you put on eastern-tinted lenses. Trying to picture kawaii Mao-chan as a stubborn, my-way-or-the-highway diva is....like trying to picture Phyllis Diller as Miss America. Nope. So why didn't she go to Russia to train 24/7 with her coach (who couldn't leave Russia easily since apparently she was caring for an ailing relative)? Mao does not have the Princess Di-level superstar status in Japan that Yu-Na has in Korea (Yu-Na's coach described travelling with Yu-Na that way). Mao has a nice rink in Japan to train in, little or no paparazzi, and the needed support of family and friends here. For Yu-Na, leaving friends and family to train with Orser in Toronto was probably the lesser of the two evils as compared to not being able to walk outside her house in Korea without bodyguards. Much calmer in Toronto for her, I'm sure, and much easier to achieve the necessary focus.
So what happened to Mao--the prodigy from Japan who had Dick Button and Peggy Flemming gushing at the 2006 Skate America (watch it here if you'd like to see how Mao *really* skates:)?
Bells of Moscow, for one thing. Who on earth thought it would be a good idea for a light, effervescent skater like Mao to skate to orchestral Rachmaninov?? Did Satan pick that music? Wrong, wrong, wrong music. And the heavy-footed walz for the SP was no better. For crying out loud, Tarasova--why did you have little Mao skating to music that should have been skated by elephants in tutus?
A commenter at Aunt Joyce's Ice Cream Stand came the closest to what I think might really be going on:
"I wonder if Mao was complicit with the dark and dramatic programs becuase maybe she thought lighter programs = too immature and juniorish?". I think that might very well be exactly what's behind not just the music choices, but Mao seeming so... off-center, somehow. Like she's trying to put a personna out there on the ice that just isn't her. Right around 2007-08, here came Yu-Na (who up to that time looked not too different from Mao--young, girlish, and slight) in a sexy black skating dress and a much more "adult" personna on the ice. She says she's shy, and it's something she's had to work at--but it had to be there to begin with for her to draw on. And Yu-Na is pretty. Mao is cute. One is not better than the other, just sayin'. Mao's sister Mai is the model, not Mao. Mao will probably alway look somewhat girlish and cute--her cuteness cup runneth over, in fact. Mao--you are not Yu-Na!! You will not ever be a Bond Girl--and you don't need to be! You can be yourself and win, Mao. You really can. Growing pains are hard, girl, and the only way to ease that kind of pain is to stay true to yourself. Mao, if you read this, click on that link above and watch yourself skating the Nocturnes for us all. That's not behind you--that *is* you. It's still there inside, and if you stay true to you, you can find it.
Sorry to go on. Just had to get that out, instead of leaving it in dribs and drabs in blog comments.
Congratulations to all the skaters at this year's olympics--very high level of skating overall!
2014 nen--gambatte, Mao-chan!
mata asobou, ne!