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Miki Kikuta: Bilingual Skating Coach

• Young Miki Kikuta has determined her career as a skating coach offering her bilingual skills for Japanese language speakers. Kikuta said, “Ice skating is popular in Chicagoland, and there are many ice rinks. Parents who have been transferred from Japan often bring their children, and say that they want their children to enjoy ice skating here. Skate fees are more affordable here, and rinks are close to their homes.”

• Kikuta started ice skating at the age of five. He parents happened to take her a rink, and immediately she was absorbed in it, so her parents put her in a course.
• Her parents are unusually busy people. Her father is guitarist Shun Kikuta, who performed in Koko Taylor’s band, and her mother is a famous sport journalist. For Miki Kikuta, ice skating was a good babysitter.

• When she was 10, skater Fumie Suguri, who later got the fourth place at the Torino Olympics, stayed with the Kikuta family. Suguri was working with Coach Oleg Vasiliev, so Kikuta began to learn from him.

• Kikuta took part in many competitions and shows. One of her memorable competitions was the regional qualifier in Tokyo block. She won the first place and advanced to the All Japan Competition when she was in the fifth grade.
• Four months before the qualifier, she joined a skating camp in Nobeyama, Nagano Prefecture where six children were given seeds and qualified to participate in the All Japan Competition. Unfortunately, she wasn’t selected.
• She returned to Chicago and worked hard to win the qualifier in Tokyo. She obtained the first prize, and everyone applauded her saying, “You did really well!” because one of the six children who received seeds in the Nobeyama camp, ended up with the third place.
• After winning the qualifier, she returned to Chicago but soon went back to Tokyo again. She suffered from jet lag and couldn’t move freely. As the result, her score wasn’t good in the All Japan Competition.

• Kikuta’s unforgettable memory was participating in the National Championship as one of two junior representatives from Fukuoka Prefecture. Kikuta was born in Chicago, but moved to Fukuoka with her mother and sister when she was a junior-high student.
• Another representative selected with Kikuta was Mira Nanri, sister of famous skater Yasuharu Nanri. A representative in the youth division was Kensuke Nakaniwa, who later became the champion of Ondrej Nepela Memorial, Slovakia, in 2008 and 2009.
• The preliminary round for the National Championship was held in Kyoto. Kikuta was excited to go to Kyoto, but she was pretty nervous. She said, “If I lose in regular competitions, it’s O.K. for me because it’s my own fault. But in the National Championship, I couldn’t lose it because I represented hopeful skaters in Fukuoka.”
• Kikuta and Nanri managed to overcome the pressure and advanced to the National Championship.

• The Championship was held at Kushiro in Hokkaido. It was her first visit to Kushiro, so she looked forward to going there.
• The venue was an exciting place and looked like a smaller Olympics. There were many pretty shops and cafés where the participants were offered free coffee and soup. Although she didn’t win the Championship, she enjoyed cheering other representatives from Fukuoka and attending award ceremonies in a major competition during her five-day stay in Kushiro.

• As a skating coach, she said, “I’m most delighted when mothers of my students frankly talk with me and ask me for consultations. I’m Japanese, so they have no language barrier, and they trust me. I want to be not only a good coach, but also a good adviser. I can tell them about location of rinks and available teachers in a certain Prefecture, so they don’t have to worry about it when they return to Japan. I want to help them, and no other coaches in Chicago can do this.”

• The full story is available in Chicago Shimpo’s October 10th issue