Champion figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu to make on-screen acting debut as samurai lord

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RocketNews 24:

Olympic gold medalist, Yuzuru Hanyu will be making his screen debut as a samurai lord in the Edo period!

Figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu captured the nation’s collective heart when he won the gold medal at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Now, Japan’s sweetheart is set to captivate audiences on the big screen as he makes his very first acting appearance in the movie Tono, Risoku de Gozaru (which roughly translates to “The Interest Please, My Lord”).

The movie is set approximately 250 years ago in the Edo period, during which the Tokugawa Shogunate ruled Japan. The film’s plot centers around nine ordinary inhabitants of a post station town and their efforts to save the townspeople from the burden of the heavy taxes imposed on them by the local government.

▼ Here’s the title of the movie, set against the picture of a Edo Period coin in the background.

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In the movie, Hanyu plays Date Shigemura, the lord of the Sendai Domain, who is apparently sympathetic to the plight of the people under his rule. According to the information that has been released, Hanyu’s role isn’t a huge one but is nonetheless a symbolically key figure in the story. Hanyu, who himself is from Sendai, the capital city of Miyagi Prefecture, reportedly was quite happy to play an actual historical figure from his birthplace, especially as the story is considered to be based loosely on true events.

 

Hanyu filmed his scenes last summer, and in commenting on his first acting experience said that it was a bit difficult to act with spoken lines and accompanying movements, which is  quite different from what he is used to in figure skating. He admits he was quite nervous while filming but enjoyed seeing the process of movie making first hand and meeting so many talented actors. He also said that he was pleasantly surprised to learn of this touching story involving Date, whom he tried his best to portray convincingly with both authority and kindness. Hanyu also added that he hopes the acting experience will add to his depth as a skating performer, not just in competitions but in exhibitions and shows as well.

 

Even fellow actors in the movie were apparently surprised by Hanyu’s appearance, as Sadao Abe, who plays the protagonist, was reported saying that he was stunned to learn that Hanyu would be cast in the film, adding that he was impressed with how the famous skater handled his acting duties.

The movie is scheduled for release in theaters across Japan on May 14. We have a feeling that the film just might attract a whole new audience of people desperately wanting to see the prince of ice on the big screen!

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Japan’s Nikkan Sports under fire after publishing hugely unflattering photos of Mao Asada

RocketNews 24:

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Mao Asada, the figure-skating darling so adored in Japan that she’s more commonly known simply as “Mao-chan”, hasn’t had the best week ever. After a less-than-stellar performance at the women’s short event at Sochi 2014, which ended in tears for the young skater, thousands of people took to Twitter and Facebook to voice their support for her.

But a photo spread in a recent issue of Japan’s Nikkan Sports, an affiliate of the Asahi Shimbun, almost definitely won’t make Mao-chan feel especially good about herself, and many net users are decidedly unhappy about it.

The issue of Nikkan Sports in question carries a spread of photos of the 23-year-old skater mid-routine. The photos they chose, however, are far from flattering, and many Japanese have described the article as “awful” and “cruel”.

“Are they making fun of Mao-chan here!?”

“This is really insensitive.”

“These are awful. I mean, she’s such a cute girl!”

“Is this newspaper aimed at Koreans or something!?”

Published on February 18, the paper has been around for a few days now. We’re not quite sure why Nikkan Sports decided to run such unflattering images, especially since Mao-chan is at Sochi representing the country to which the paper belongs, but we have to admit we’re happy to see her fans rallying for her so.

▼ The Nikkan Sports article

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Source: Matometa News

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Japan’s Nikkan Sports under fire after publishing hugely unflattering photos of Mao Asada

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Michelle Kwan gets the cold treatment over her endorsement of Coca-Cola

Washington Times:

 

Are you now, or have you ever been, a shill for Coca-Cola?

A conservative think tank denounced Tuesday a nutritional advocacy group for its attacks on Olympic figure skater legend Michelle Kwan for being a pusher of soft drinks while sitting on President Obama’s fitness council, while the group doubled down on its position.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) had said Miss Kwan’s dual roles as a Coca-Cola “ambassador” to the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, and her membership on the Council on Fitness,Sports, and Nutrition were “unacceptable.”

It “cannot be reconciled, since Coca-Cola and the President’s Council communicate opposing messages when it comes to sugar drinks,” CSPI said while going on to note that of the nine athletes on the council, “at least five are current or former endorsers of sugar drinks.”

Council co-chair Drew Brees, quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, has appeared in Pepsi commercials, for instance,” the group said. “Olympic sprinter Allyson Felix has endorsed Gatorade, and Chris Paulof the Los Angeles Clippers endorses Powerade.”

Allowing makers of sugar drinks or junk foods to rent Michelle Kwan or other council members is unacceptable,” said CSPI director of health promotion policy Jim O’Hara.

On Tuesday, though, Jeff Stier, senior fellow of the conservative National Center for Public Policy Research, said CSPI’s “absolutist view” was “absurd” and said it undermines public-health efforts “by suggesting that people who enjoy an occasional sugary beverage cannot be active, athletic and healthy.”

Michelle Kwan’s Coca-Cola endorsement does not suggest consumers drink too much soda. If anything, it conveys that people who do enjoy soda, can do so in moderation while also avoiding a sedentary lifestyle,” Mr. Stier said.

This latest campaign against food and beverage manufacturers further supports the conclusion that when it comes to addressing obesity, the most prominent public health activists are intent on turning the discussion about obesity into a war, rather than a solvable problem.”

A spokesman for CSPI pointed to the council’s own guidelines on Tuesday in response.

The council’s guidelines for “how to eat healthy” include “[drinking] water instead of sugary drinks” as one of eight goals people can try incorporating into their diet: “Cut calories by drinking water or unsweetened beverages. Soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks are a major source of added sugar and calories in American diets.”

Soda companies use athletes to inoculate themselves against the studies, which link sugary drinks to obesity, diabetes and other health problems,” CSPI spokesman Jeff Cronin said in an email. “By endorsing Coca-Cola, Michelle Kwan is giving the impression that sugar drinks are somehow linked to fitness and health, when in fact the opposite is true.”

Mr. Cronin also dismissed the conservative group’s criticism, saying it had “been a while since I’ve heard about the National Center for Public Policy Research.”

This was because “presumably reporters have been less likely to cite the [group’s] role in the years since the Abramoff scandal,” he said, referring to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who resigned from the group’s board of directors in 2004.

Neither the White House nor Coca-Cola responded to requests for comment Tuesday.

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Figure Skater Michelle Kwan: Then and Now…

 

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Michelle Kwan at the Salute To Women In Sports Awards, October 16, 2013