Maia and Alex Shibutani win first U.S. Ice Dancing title

Angry Asian Man:

On Saturday at the 2016 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in St. Paul, Minnesota, siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani won their first U.S. ice dance title, besting defending champs Madison Chock and Evan Bates.

Performing their free skate to Coldplay’s “Fix You,” the five-time medalists finally broke through and nabbed gold with a final score of 190.14. Chock and Bates finished second with 186.93.

The Shibutanis — affectionately known as the “Shib Sibs” — were U.S. silver medalists in 2011 and 2012, then took bronze in 2013 and 2014, then finished again with the silver last year. And now they’re gold medalists.

Here’s video of their rousing, gold-winning performance:

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Olympic gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi to host a special 3-episode series “Japanese American Lives” on PBS

 

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Olympic gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi will host a special three episode series Japanese American Lives on PBS.

Presented by the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), the programs will explore the “rich and diverse history of Japanese Americans with stories that go beyond the history books.”

The first episode Mrs. Judo: Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful  will feature the story of Keiko Fukuda. She is the highest ranking woman in judo history, earning a 10th degree black belt. The episode is directed by Yuriko Gamo Romer. Fukuda died last year at the age of 99.

Check out this link:

Kristi Yamaguchi to host “Japanese American Lives” on PBS

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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.

Check out this link:

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

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Why a Korean speed skating star changed his name and started racing for Russia

RocketNews 24:

 

Twelve years ago, South Korea’s Ahn Hyun-soo crashed into Apolo Ohno a few feet from the finish line in the men’s short track 1000m at the Olympics.

It sparked an intense rivalry between the two skaters that peaked at the 2006 Olympics in Turin, where Hyun-soo won three gold medals to Ohno’s one.

On Saturday night in Sochi, the Hyun-soo won gold again. But now his name is Viktor Ahn, and he skates for Russia.

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Ahn’s story is an example of how nationality is often secondary to the financial demands of being a professional athlete in an Olympic sport.

In 2011 Ahn fell out of favor with the South Korean short track federation. Injuries kept him out of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, and at age 26 he was getting old for a short track skater.

With the deepest, most talented short track team in the world, they didn’t need him.

▼ Ahn in 2006

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South Korean journalist Yoo Jee-ho told the New York Times that the public thought Ahn was mistreated by the short track federation:

He is seen as a sympathetic figure. Here is a guy who’d done so much for the country at the Olympics and the world championships, but injuries and some politics outside his control kept him from returning to his glory days.

To keep his career alive, he looked for any country that would have him, and that’s how Ahn Hyun-soo became Viktor Ahn.

The U.S. tried to recruit him, but ultimately Ahn picked Russia because they paid well and he was virtually assured a spot in the Olympics considering the dearth of world-class Russian skaters.

He had to renounce his Korean citizenship to become a naturalized Russian citizen. He changed his name, giving this fantastic explanation for why he picked Viktor:

“First of all, the name Viktor is associated with the word ‘victory’. It’s symbolic, as I want this name to bring me luck. Secondly, I know of another Korean named Viktor, who is very popular in Russia and is well-known in Korea — Viktor Tsoy. I want to be as famous in Russia as he was. And third, I was told that Viktor is a name, which is easy to remember for Russian-speakers.”

Now that he has returned to his 2006 form, the Koreans are wondering how they let him go.

President Park Geun-hye has ordered an investigation into why Ahn was kicked to the curb by the skating federation in 2011.

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Check out this link:

Why a Korean speed skating star changed his name and started racing for Russia

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Meet Yuzuru Hanyu, your first figure skating Olympic star

 

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There are spoilers here. Please don’t continue if you don’t want to find out the results…

The team skating event of The 2014 Winter Olympics kicked off with the men’s short program on Thursday. It’s a new event this year in which men’s, women’s, pairs, and ice-dancing teams from 10 countries compete together in a Davis Cup-like team competition.  The men took the ice on Thursday, a lineup which included three-time world champion Patrick Chan and skating legend Evgeni Plushenko. Those two have commanded headlines of late with some saucy verbal fighting.

But it was Japan‘s Yuzuru Hanyu (and Team Japan) who stole the show with a dazzling quadruple toe loop. Hanyu made this really, really difficult jump look ridiculously easy:

He followed that up with a breezy triple axel:

The ease and beauty of Hanyu’s performance were highlights on a night when U.S. hopeful Jeremy Abbott bobbled on his triple axel and Patrick Chan doubled one of his combination jumps. The Japanese team, which includes 2010 silver medalist Mao Asada, were happy for their teammate (which is one of the nice things about the team competition):

Hanyu’s strong performance put Japan in first, followed by Plushenko’s Russian team, and Chan’s Canadian team. The U.S. was in seventh following Abbott’s popped axel.

 

The pairs component is currently underway and will be followed by ice-dancing and the women’s competition. Because Japan’s pairs team isn’t considered as strong, Russia and Canada are hoping to make up some ground and cut into Hanyu and Japan’s lead.

 

Check out this link:

Meet Yuzuru Hanyu, your first figure skating Olympic star

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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.

Check out this link:

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

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Asian American Athletes in Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games

The 2014 Olympic Winter Games will be held Feb. 7-23, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. This marks the first time that the Russian Federation will have hosted the Winter Games – the Soviet Union hosted the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow. Sochi, the host city, has a population of 400,000 and is located in the third largest region in Russia – Krasnodar.

Team USA athletes will compete in the following sports at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi:

  • Biathlon
  • Bobsled
  • Curling
  • Figure skating – ice dance, pairs, singles (men’s and ladies), team
  • Ice hockey
  • Luge
  • Short track speedskating
  • Skeleton
  • Skiing – alpine, cross country, freestyle, jumping/Nordic combined
  • Snowboarding
  • Speedskating

The Games will be organized in two clusters: a coastal cluster for ice events in Sochi, and a mountain cluster in the Krasnaya Polyana Mountains. This will make it one of the most compact Games ever, with approximately 30 minutes travel time from the coastal to mountain cluster.

The Sochi Olympic Park will be built along the Black Sea coast in the Imeretinskaya Valley, where all the ice venues such as the Bolshoi Ice Palace, the Maly Ice Palace, the Olympic Oval, the Sochi Olympic Skating Centre, the Olympic Curling Centre, the Central Stadium, the Main Olympic Village and the International Broadcast Centre and Main Press Centre, will be built anew for the 2014 Games.

The mountain cluster in Krasnaya Polyana will be home to all the skiing and sliding sports. There will also be a sub-media center in the mountain cluster.

To learn more about the 2014 Olympic Winter Games and the Organizing Committee of the XXII Olympic Winter Games of 2014 in Sochi, visit: http://sochi2014.com/en/.

Our fabulous Asian Americans representing #TEAMUSA in Sochi are:

Julie Chu

Julie Chu is an ice hockey forward who has earned three Olympic medals (Salt Lake City 2002 – silver; Torino 2006 – bronze; Vancouver 2010 – silver) and is seeking her first gold in Sochi. Playing with the U.S. women’s national team since 2000, Chu has earned four world championship titles and three world silver medals. She is also currently serving as an assistant coach to the Union College women’s ice hockey team.

Julie Chu is a pioneer of women’s hockey in the United States. Chu’s passion for the sport and commitment to consistently doing “the little everyday” things have helped her become one of the longest serving players in U.S. Women’s National Team History.

Maia and Alex Shibutani

Maia and Alex Shibutani are a sibling ice dance team. They are the 2011 World bronze medalists, the U.S. silver medalists in 2011 and 2012, and bronze medalists in 2013. Their competitive career started in 2005 with a silver medal in juvenile ice dance at the U.S. Junior Championships during their very first year competing in the sport. The following two seasons they captured back-to-back U.S. National titles competing at the next successive levels – Intermediate (2006) and Novice levels (2007). Their competitive career at the Junior level was highlighted by a silver medal at the 2009 World Junior Figure Skating Championships, and a third U.S. National title, winning the gold medal at the Junior level in 2010.

As competitors at the senior level since the 2010-2011 season, Maia and Alex have been 3-time medalists at the U.S. Championships, and made a historic debut during their rookie season, becoming the first ice dance team to medal at both of their Grand Prix events and the first U.S. Ice Dance team to medal during their debut at the World Championships (2011).
In August, 2012 Maia and Alex launched their official YouTube channel “ShibSibs” Productions. Their channel includes original videos which Maia and Alex have filmed, directed and edited – which have thus far garnered over 810,000 views.

J.R. Celski

Born in Monterey, California, J.R. Celski is half Filipino and half Polish. He was raised in a loving family from Federal Way, WA alongside two brothers, Chris and David. At the age of 14, J.R. moved to Long Beach, CA at to pursue Olympic Dream. In 2008, he graduated from Lakewood High School and was accepted to attend the University of California, Berkeley. He put school on hold to skate full time. At the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada, J.R. won 2 bronze medals. As one of his interests, J.R. started a production company in 2010 called M.A.D. Northwest that’s producing a film entitled “The Otherside” focusing on the Seattle Hip Hop Scene.

J.R. Celski’s quest to become a two-time Olympian will get going Friday at the 2014 U.S. Olympic Trials — Short Track Speedskating. We’re looking forward to it!

For a full rundown of schedules, athlete videos, Olympic protocols and more, please visit www.NBCOlympics.com or www.TeamUSA.org.

As a reminder, you can watch the first competitions of the Games on NBC starting February 6th, even though the opening ceremonies are February 7th and run through February 23rd. The Paralympics are two weeks later in Sochi March 7-16.

Check out this link:

Asian American Athletes in Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games

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Japanese skaters take top two spots at the NHK Trophy

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Local favorite Daisuke Takahashi produced a solid free skate on Saturday to win his fifth NHK Trophy.

Takahashi, who had a 10-point lead after the short program, received 268.31 points after the free skate to finish 15 points ahead of second-place Nobunari Oda.

Three-time U.S. champion Jeremy Abbott, who was seventh after the short program, had a strong free skate and finished third with 237.41 points.

Takahashi, who was a disappointing fourth at Skate America, hit his opening quad toeloop. He had a shaky landing on a triple axel and was downgraded on a combination jump but was solid otherwise.

I didn’t do well at Skate America so I was determined to get my confidence back,” Takahashi said. “I wasn’t perfect today but little by little was able to gain momentum.”

Two-time world champion Mao Asada completed a successful day for the host nation by winning the free skate to capture her fourth NHK Trophy.

Asada, who was first after the short program, under-rotated her opening triple axel but finished with a total of 207.59 points. Coupled with her win at Skate America, Asada secured a berth at the Grand Prix final next month in the Fukuoka, Japan.

I was a bit disappointed not to do the triple axel cleanly,” Asada said. “It’s something I want to be able to do well but I’m happy with the overall result.

The NHK Trophy is the fourth of six events in the International Skating Union’s Grand Prix series. The next event is the Trophee Bompard in Paris next week.

Check out this link:

Japanese skaters take top two spots at the NHK Trophy