Starting with our very first competition that took place in Japan back in 2003, Meryl and I have loved skating for Japanese fans. Few countries throughout the world support figure skating to the degree that Japan does, and they have good reason – they consistently have some of the strongest skaters in the world. The fans’ enthusiasm for the sport always lends itself to a great competitive atmosphere, where every skater feels like they can surpass even their own expectations with the support of the crowd.
Meryl and I have had the privilege to not only compete in Japan, but to also perform in a skating tour called “The Ice” for the last two summers. When the shows began, it was only a few months after the magnitude 9 earthquake and subsequent tsunami which wreaked havoc along much of costal Japan. In response, “The Ice” set aside a show for many of the victims to come and watch, and also donated to the relief efforts.
It was incredibly meaningful for me and Meryl to be able to give back to the people of Japan in their time of need, even if it was only by skating for them. And the situation helped remind us to be grateful that we’re able to do what we do.
Fast forward to last week – coming off a win at Skate America, Meryl and I needed another top placement at our second Grand Prix assignment, the NHK Trophy, to secure a spot in the Grand Prix Final. The NHK Trophy this year was held in Sendai, one of the areas most prominently affected by both the earthquake and tsunami of 2011. It was, as we’ve come to expect from competitions in Japan, amazingly put together by the local organizing committee and the Japan Skating Federation.
In both parts of our event, the short dance and free dance, Meryl and I felt great and we were able to show off some of the considerable progress we’ve made since the start of the season. After working with renowned dancer and star of So You Think You Can Dance, Alex Wong in the weeks between competitions, we went to Japan feeling confident about every movement. This confidence was reflected in both our performance and our scores.
We now head to the Grand Prix Final in Sochi, Russia. The same city and venue the skating competition at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games will take place in. It will be another important step in our journey towards the 2013 World Championships, as well as the Olympics. See you in Sochi!