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!

Figure skater Nathan Chen jumps his way into history at national championships

USA Today:

We have seen the future of U.S. figure skating and it is Nathan Chen.

Chen, 16, made history Sunday at the national championships by landing four quadruple jumps in his long program, more than any American skater ever, giving him a total of six over the two days of competition, a previously unthinkable number for a U.S. skater.

He did not win the men’s title, however. That honor went to veteran Adam Rippon, a lyrical skater who didn’t land a quad but still won his first national title at 26 with a score of 270.75 points. Max Aaron, the 2013 national champion, finished second (269.55), and Chen was third (266.93).

Third? Yes, third. Four quads were not good enough for first place. Chen is young and not fully developed as a skater and a jumper, but what a statement it would have been for the judges to have placed him first.

That said, all three skaters qualified for the world championships in Boston this spring, and Chen also will compete at the world junior championships in Hungary two weeks earlier, so he will get plenty of exposure on the international stage two years before the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Best Asian American athletes in 2014


Northwest Asian Weekly (By Jason Cruz)

It was another stellar year for API sports.

It started off with Doug Baldwin and the Seattle Seahawks bringing home the team’s first ever Super Bowl and a parade that seemingly the whole city of Seattle came to see.

The Winter Olympics were a bit of a disappointment for Asian Americans. Mirai Nagusa was denied making the U.S. women’s figure skating team despite making the top three.

J.R. Celski earned a Silver medal in the men’s Short Track 5000-meter relay but failed to medal in any of the three individual events he competed in.

Julie Chu, the first Asian American woman to play for the U.S. women’s ice hockey team ended her career with a Silver medal for the U.S. team. However, her quest for Gold was thwarted just three minutes before the end of the Gold Medal Game against Canada. With the U.S. up 2-0, Canada made a furious comeback and scored two goals in three minutes to send the game into overtime where Team Canada scored another goal for the Gold. Chu played in an unprecedented four Olympics and was the U.S. Olympic team’s Flag Bearer for the closing ceremonies.

In April, Manny Pacquiao returned to the ring and avenged a controversial loss to Tim Bradley by winning a convincing unanimous decision.

The World Cup was held in Brazil in June and the two Asian nations competing, South Korea and Japan, did not fare well. Both were eliminated in the first round of the tournament.

Also in June, Michelle Wie won her first major golf championship with a win at the U.S. Women’s Open. At the same tournament, 11-year-old Lucy Li became the youngest qualifier in the U.S. Women’s Open.

University of Washington men’s golf team member Cheng-Tsung Pan played in the British Open in July. The UW junior earned the spot by tying for second at a qualifying event in Thailand. This fall, Pan decided to turn pro.

The U.S. Tennis Open featured great runs by 24-year-old Japanese star Kei Nishikori and China’s Peng Shuai.

Nishikori, who was coached by Chinese American Michael Chang, made it all the way to the men’s final before losing to Milos Raonic.

Shuai made a surprising run to the semifinals where she had to retire (forfeit) due to continued leg cramps.

Absent from the women’s side of the tournament was Li Na who announced her retirement in September.

In October, Apolo Ohno finished the famed Ironman Triathlon in Kona, Hawaii.

November saw Manny Pacquiao’s return to the ring as he destroyed Chris Algieri. Pacquiao’s next opponent…Floyd Mayweather?

In December, the University of Oregon’s Marcus Mariota won the Heisman Trophy, college football’s biggest individual award.
Mariota becomes the first Asian Pacific Islander to win the trophy.

And without further ado, here are the top 10 API athletes of 2014:

10. Harley Kirsch

Kirsch, who is part Korean, was the quarterback for the Eastside Catholic High School team that defeated the vaunted Bellevue High School football team to win the Washington state class 3A football championship. Located in Sammamish, Washington, the school ended Bellevue’s 67 game winning streak. Kirsch is only a junior and will return next season to lead Eastside Catholic.

9. Amelia Andrilenas

The junior gymnast at Juanita High School qualified for the state meet and placed first, second, and fourth in all-around meets during the 2013-2014 season.

For the outsider, the most astonishing thing about the 4’11” gymnast is that she has only one hand. Andrilenas, who was adopted from China, took up gymnastics at an early age and has excelled since.

8. Jeremy Lin

Lin was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers this past offseason to complement Kobe Bryant. So far, Lin has not done much to help Kobe. He’s averaging just 10 points for the currently 9 win and 22 loss Lakers. He did score a season high 21 points in the Lakers’ first win. While he is far-removed from the days of New York and Linsanity, he still is a contributing member of the Lakers who hope to rebuild.

7. Tim Lincecum

It seems that every other year Lincecum and his San Francisco Giants seem to win a World Series. The Giants won baseball’s World Series this year making it three times in the past five years that the team has won the title. Lincecum, who is a Washington native and part Filipino, pitched his second-career no-hitter against the San Diego Padres in June. He also picked up his 100th career win this past September. Although Lincecum played sparingly in the World Series, he picks up his third ring.

6. Chloe Kim

At only 14, Kim was too young to compete in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics but the snowboarder did earn silver in the “superpipe” at this year’s Winter X Games. Look for the Korean American to make the next team in the 2018 Winter Olympics which are in her parents’ home country of South Korea.

5. Julie Chu

A pioneer in the field of women’s hockey as Chu was the first Asian American to be on the women’s team and the first to play in four Olympics. She also starred in a commercial with her mother shown during the Winter Olympics.

4. Mirai Nagusa

The 21-year-old Los Angeles native was denied a spot on the 2014 Winter Olympics women’s figure skating team despite winning the Bronze medal at the U.S. Championships. Usually, the top three are awarded spots on the Olympic team. However, the U.S. Figure Skating committee determined that Ashley Wagner, the fourth place finisher make the team based on Wagner’s stronger international record. Although it was reported that Nagusa would appeal the decision, she later decided not to pursue it.

3. Apolo Ohno

The Olympic medalist is keeping busy in retirement. Last year he ran the New York Marathon. This year, he has completed one of the most grueling events out there, the Kona Ironman Triathlon. Ohno finished in 9 hours, 52 minutes and 27 seconds. What will he do next?

2. Marcus Mariota

The Oregon Duck won the Heisman Trophy in December and leads his team into the first College Football Playoff. Mariota is certain to be a top pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

1. Doug Baldwin

It’s pretty easy to pick Baldwin as he was a key part of the Seahawks run to the Super Bowl last year and remains one of Russell Wilson’s most valuable receivers. Hopefully, we’ll see Baldwin (and the rest of the Seahawks) with another Super Bowl ring in 2015.

 

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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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South Korean ice skater Yuna Kim takes lead after Russian teen sensation falls

The Guardian:

 

Yuna Kim of South Korea performs during the women's short program at the 2014 Winter Games.

The South Korean star Yuna Kim overcame a bout of nerves to put herself in prime position for the Olympic gold medal in women’s figure skating on Wednesday, after 15-year-old Russian sensation Julia Lipnitskaia fell on a triple flip and slipped down the rankings.

Nerves almost got the best of Kim in the short program, and her 0.28-point lead over the 17-year-old Russian Adelina Sotnikov is almost as slim as it could get. But Kim, with a snappy routine that had the crowd on its feet before she finished her final spin, showed she is still the favorite to win another title.

Italy’s Carolina Kostner, whose Ave Maria program is almost a religious experience for her, was just behind. Chicago’s Gracie Gold was fourth, within striking distance after overcoming a sense of stage fright.

Lipnitskaia, who won both programs in the team event to help the hosts take the gold, broke down in tears after her routine was marred by the fall. “This does not define her career or who she is as an athlete,” coach Eteri Tutberidze said through a translator. “She simply made a mistake. That’s all. It happens.”

When it happened, the crowd was stunned. And Kim had the lead, but barely, over Sotnikova.

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South Korean ice skater Yuna Kim takes lead after Russian teen sensation falls

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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
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Brother-and-sister ice dance pair Alex and Maia Shibutani earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic team

 


A big congratulations to brother-and-sister ice dance pair Alex and Maia Shibutani, who earned themselves a spot on the U.S Olympic figure skating team. The pair brought down the house and took the bronze medal with their Michael Jackson-themed free skate on Saturday at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

The brother-sister ice dance tandem from Canton, Mich., are inseparable on and off the ice, so much so that they’ve earned the nickname “Shib Sibs.” They’re also known for their hilarious YouTube videos.

People come up to us and say, ‘Oh, I don’t know how you guys do it,” Alex said before joking that most brothers and sisters would want to wring each other’s neck.

But we do have a very close relationship,” he added, “where we’re able to skate together and spend time together off ice.”

Alex, 22, and Maia, 19, began their skating careers as individual competitors but eventually teamed up to take ice dance by storm.

In 2005 – at ages 13 and 10 – Alex and Maia became U.S. juvenile silver medalists and the next year they won the U.S. intermediate title. In 2007, the Shibutanis won the U.S. novice crown and then, as juniors, took silver at the 2009 world championships and won gold at the 2010 U.S. championships.

After breaking into senior competition with a bronze at the 2010 worlds, the Shib Sibs have been a fixture on the U.S. ice dance scene ever since.

It was only natural for us to start holding hands, skating around and doing new tricks and things,” Alex said. “It was a lot of fun for us.

Great chemistry isn’t the only reason for the Shibutanis’ success, though.

A lot of training for us as ice dancers is about the little details,” Maia explained. “It’s about nuances. We have lifts, we have spins. But we also have things like footwork.

For the Shib Sibs, keeping in step won’t ever be a problem.

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Brother-and-sister ice dance pair Alex and Maia Shibutani earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic team