A Charmer on the Ice - Akiko SUZUKI
Our Japanese correspondent, Aiko interviewed Akiko this summer.
thanks to: BRETT BARDEN & DAVID CARMICHAEL for photos, PAJA for illustrations
posted in November, 2010

At 2010 Vancouver Olympics, you met A Charmer on the Ice - we have taken so long time, to see her. Akiko called "Akko" SUZUKI, she's now 25 years old. But, 7 seasons ago, we had this little charmer in this sport, indeed. She was one of the rising stars of galacticos-like Japan team.

Akiko SUZUKI 鈴木明子 © Brett Barden
2009-10FS"West Side Story"
@ 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games

17 years old, a tiny dancer in the cool, she was a two-time(2001, 2002) consecutive pewter medalist of "All-Japan" Nationals, collected some junior ISU GP medals including a bronze at Final and finished in the respected 8th at her very first senior ISU competition - 2002 "4CC" Four Continents Figure Skating Championships. She made a jump start into her first harvest 2002-03 season, reaped a gold medal of JGP in USA, then, …something happened.

Her second JGP in China, was a turning point. - her long-time coach, Hiroshi Nagakubo's consideration. She was placed 5th, so that her second JGP Final was canceled out, and dropped down 9th at 2003 All-Japan, ——it began. She went through the tunnel of an eating disorder, and got out, after a blank of the entire season 2003-04.

Akiko came back on her track with several international medals, to which she's used, as well as she was welcome back at home, 5th - 2007 All-Japan, 2nd - ISU GPS 2008 NHK Trophy, & won an impressive pewter medal again, at 2008 All-Japan. ——it really ended, when she fetched her gold medal, that had been left behind there - ISU GPS 2009 Cup of China.

Yep! "Surprising winner in China" was such a mis-matched quote for her. Just she has returned where she was, you know! and a much stronger lady's rolling story of her own! …that's my barking at the moon. Well, Well, Well! Akiko competed in her first GP Final, as the best 6 female of this Olympic season, won a delightful bronze medal, then qualified for her first Olympics in the "dead" group aka All-Japan, where she was placed 2nd, in the end of 2009.

Oh! What a moving story, to be loved too much, however. Or, if you are an elite female athlete, you're so handsome minded that you never want any excuse for yourself. BUT! Akiko Rocks!! She's brave enough to figure a deep-edged testament that she had defeated the eating disorder, which has defeated lots of dreams. Akiko can be always openly for the refrain, repeated questions about it and titled : SURVIVOR. - it reflects a bright sign, in all the patient, she hopes.

Resume: 2007-09

So, first, let's talk about your revive-era, Akko! I guess your 2007-08 season was the corner, that you turned around, and found your good form in great shape. Especially, in the finale of the season - 2008 International "AEGON" Challenge Cup in Netherlands (1st), where one more epoch was written, right? ((read ☞ "Bellezza" which was written by Akiko herself)) Despite a few chips and cracks on the elements, you had your programs, danced in your textural way at your ice-ballroom!

Well, you were going to run into the flourishing 2008-09 season, with your cherished exhibition program, "Libertango" - choreographed by Kenji Miyamoto; requested by Daisuke Takahashi, right? And, you made your fans cry at NHK Trophy & All-Japan with eagle-eyed "Dark Eyes"(FS).

Akiko SUZUKI 鈴木明子 © Paja
2008-09FS"Dark Eyes" @ 2008 All-Japan

Plus, Your SP"la Campanella" showed a ballerina's ability, transposed onto the ice! 'the days of the elegance' …according to EUROSPORTS on NHK Trophy.

Akko, how had you made progress through 2007-09 seasons?

*Akiko SUZUKI: highlighted

Anyway, I had to proceed to deliver good results for Olympics. Everyday, I was thinking how I could show my performance; how I could give myself all to one-by-one competition. I hoped the coaches and folks would see those results. It might be tough 2 seasons which were stuffed competitions more than other skaters', but I had to proceed to do that, due to my missing seasons. "I will show them what I can do at this moment," I hoped.

At 2008 "AEGON" Challenge Cup(1st place), I saw you delivered great one! How did you feel?

Well, that result was so-so… but, in the end, I could perform such an exhibition with the live performance. So I felt that winning AEGON was a "gift" I received.

Tell us about 2007-09 programs.

I always don't fix my programs, not like "This season, I should perform this one". I welcome the suggestions from choreographers, then the music blesses my imagination, we choose it - except for "Titanic"(2007-08FS), which I had wanted to perform for a long time, I chose that. Also, "Dark Eyes" - FS of the following season, I wanted to dance the last part as a step sequence. "It will be so fine", I imagined. Plus, I intended to flip my "Titanic" look.

"la Campanella" was so fine, too, got a thumbs up from EUROSPORTS!

"la Campanella" was… difficult. I had imagined "be cool", that was the presentation I wanted to give "la Campanella"… it was difficult for me to do that.

I don't think so! "la Campanella" imagined your grace neatly, as EUROSPORTS quoted 'just! love!! the presentation, balletic arms, softness and brightness she has on the ice,' 'I just think it was a real quality, absolutely a ballerina type quality: sharp and smooth.'

Akiko SUZUKI 鈴木明子 © Paja
2008-09SP"la Campanella" @ 2008 NHK Trophy

Though, I didn't get it completed, couldn't finalize in one season.

"Libertango", was the requested number by Daisuke Takahashi?

I had done perform "Libertango" as a SP, when I was a middle schooler. From then on, Dai-chan and I had competitions together. He liked that "Libertango" so much, even he had almost memorized it.

…memorized its choreography?

Yes, we performed it together. His step sequence was perfect. In those days, in training with me, he always said "Let's dance it!", he did perfectly. Then, Kenji and I were going to make a new EX, while Daisuke talked with Kenji, like "I bet Akko-chan matches tango!" "Yep, Akko tastes tango." …It was the very first work with Kenji, he said "Akko, you perform tango, that I confirmed!" when I met him to ask to choreograph. And we browsed tango, so was "Libertango" determined.

That became one of the masterpieces of Akiko SUZUKI. Was it made smoothly?

Not, at all. Because we collaborated for the first time, and the step sequence was so difficult. First of all, we entered into that [SlSt],

that sparkling point of "Libertango", the last part!

we got on it from that point, that was the very first session with Kenji… It took 7 hours, to finish one straight line.


I got troubles. It needed too quick, too many footworks.

"Libertango" was born difficultly… has grown up beautifully, that everyone needs.

I received my first standing ovation, when I performed it for the first time, 2008 Dreams On Ice(: an annual back-to-season exhibition of Japan Team).

I think 2008-09 season, lots people fell in love with you, 3 different ladies, all named Akiko SUZUKI: SP"la Campanella" FS"Dark Eyes" EX"Libertango".

Early in the season, I said "I hope to play the role of 3 ladies."

…Oh well, we had been based on your plot!

Then, something happened! Hooray, this time!! your 2009 GPS assignment: China; Canada.
*Skate Canada, where Akiko would compete in her first senior GPS in 2003. It caught the sick girl on the ice, with its gracefulness for 17, a little lady.

How did you feel in the beginning of 2009-10 Olympic season?

Before kicking off the season, I was the 5th ranked applicant for 3 Olympians. I had only to run after them… run to them, and over them, "I just go run". I had no time to look aside, take a break, and "Just GO!".

Did you realize "GO to Olympics"?

The previous 4CC in Vancouver, when I finished the competition, I swore "I do come back here!" It came real… it's like a dream, I feel now.

Hey! it's not "like a dream", Akko!

I made it, indeed, but it's so dramatic. For me 4CC in Vancouver was the first ISU Championships since the last one (2002 4CC), I was stuck in the competition, though I realized after that: "I wanna come back here!". I swore to shape up, swore I would be back.

A story of West Side Story

CBC Sports revealed that you asked Shae-Lynn Bourne to choreograph your FS, in person, like that "Could I skate the… Riverdance?" Shae-Lynn said "…What?" I have to say "…What?", too! though it's been told, you love BOURNE/KRAATZ "Riverdance", Shae-Lynn loves your "Libertango", as well.

How did your FS get to… "West Side Story" choreographed by Shae-Lynn?

When I asked her to choreograph it, I hoped it would include the main part of Riverdance (the song called 'Riverdance'), which was featured in an ice dance program: BOURNE/KRAATZ "Riverdance", my all-time favorite. But she told me, "It's exceptional," difficult for a single skater to perform like Riverdance(: Irish step dance / line dance), for Riverdancers use only their legs. However, still, I wish I could skate the Riverdance.

hope you will in the future!!

I didn't make a wish list on the program, that I wished to let be "me", whatever Shae-Lynn color in. So I didn't imagine that I would perform WSS. She brought me the list, it picked 5 songs up approximately. When I saw the line-up of those titles for the first time, even I was inspired, "I will perform WSS."

A "title" hooked you enough!? great to hear that! …Had you ever watched WSS movie or musical?

No, though I knew the overview, and had been familiar with its songs, for every single song is so popular. Other nominees, were quite various, tasted different from WSS. But it hit me, "do WSS!". Then we met, I told her that before the session, "I feel like WSS among these songs." Shae-Lynn said "You feel like WSS!", too. "You have black hair, statement eyes, it feels like Maria." Well, I didn't feel so much like Maria… when we made it, but, as I got training and had performing a lot, a bit of confidence came to me. Some compliments to it: "a good program" glowed Maria more and more. Also Broadway musical in Japan I watched, that helped it.

Shae-Lynn is a fantastic connoisseur, both of music and dance. Your "West Side Story" is the music: a must of WSS fans, at a time, the move: a must of Akko fans!
- Kicking-off 'Jets VS Sharks aka Prologue' as 3 jump elements, you're so bold like 'Jets VS Sharks', your sharpness, quickness, speed, and vibrancy is embossed emotionally! that is a dish for "Titanic"(Step sequence) and "Libertango" lovers.
- The second part, 'I Feel Pretty'[CCoSp] to 'Maria'[SpSq], I feel Maria herself! smooth, sweet, soft, and shining a dream you are there. that is draped with the same chiffon as "Nocturne"(2006-08EX), "Bellezza", "la Campanella".
- The pleasure's running through the third part dramatically, 'Maria' enters 'Tonight' as 4 jump elements in the 2nd half (×1.1) and [FCSp], Music is on your side! as if it has got you made all jumps, at Cup of China, GPF, and All-Japan as well.
- & Fulfillingness has come, the dancing finale 'Mambo'[SlSt] to 'Tonight'[FCCoSp]. What a heavenly party! you give, "Firedance"(2006-08SP), "Dark Eyes" to be continued…
——Wow, It's an essential Akiko SUZUKI, at all.

How was your collaboration with Shae-Lynn?

Her choreography is exceptional. At first, she hadn't fixed any particular song to be featured. She didn't pick any song up from WSS, but she played any song on. "Move like this, along with this music", asked Shae-Lynn. For example, 'Maria', the slow part of the program ([SpSq] to Jumps), she prepared 3 songs: 'Maria' 'Somewhere' 'One Hand, One Heart' for it, and we tried all 3 songs in Day 1. "Show your spirals, well, yours feels like 'Maria'." like that. Then she noted "The song will be ready for you tomorrow!", so was the song composed in 4 minutes Day 2! For the Step sequence, 'Mambo' and 'America' were hung up. She looked at fitting, to choose 'Mambo'.

…That way was exceptional, so far! In addition, her taste is fine gauge. As for Pasquale(Camerlengo, who choreographed her FS 2010-11 forthcoming season), brought its outline to run through almost full length in Day 1. Then we shaped details. While Shae-Lynn, she has been looking at every fitting for 15 seconds or so.

She gauges how "Akiko SUZUKI" matches the music - the "taste". A fine chef!

Shizuka the Handsome Queen

So, Maria is dressed in love, of Shizuka Arakawa, who designed your WSS costume of China Cup/Skate Canada.

Akiko SUZUKI 鈴木明子 © Paja
2009-10FS"West Side Story"

Tell us the episode "Akiko & Shizuka",
for…you know, she is utmost handsome minded, not to tell anything for her own sake, not to fancy herself. I mean… She never performs "Raise her public image Up". Let us "Listen" to that, please!
A little bird told me that she invited you to New York (New Jersey?) for a merry Christmas of 2003-04(?) season…

Well, it's not correct.

…Hey, Bird, did you hear that?

Yet, she had taken care of me a lot, for the missing season(2003-04).

- the season that Shizuka won a gold of World Championships 2004, as well.

Around summer, she noticed my condition, told me "Come in the States, you would refresh." before the season. Although, I couldn't even make a trip, it couldn't happen.

sorry… I guess she had thought of you, on her majesty road.

The Riverdance Suite

I see Michael Flatley, when you exit a 2A of your SP "Riverdance". Yet, I had seen more Michael Flatley and also Jean Butler, in you, …at my fantasy rink.
*Michael Flatley/Jean Butler: co-choreographer & co-lead dancer of original Riverdance
@ ISU rink, you dance Flamenco from Riverdance again. compiled: 'Andalusia'; 'Firedance'; starting with 'Pipes Riverdance', choreographed by Kenji Miyamoto.

How did it get developed?

"Andalusia/Firedance", are my favorite songs, and may be my taste…

Yes! it's yours!

so I asked Kenji to remake the program(2006-08SP"Firedance"), as I love the Flamenco act of Riverdance, Maria Pages performed.

Her Flamenco is flaring. Your Flamenco is burning to be cool .

Akiko SUZUKI 鈴木明子 © Brett Barden
@ 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games

My fantasy SP is also homage to Riverdance, Michael, he is a charmer, Jean, she is the elegance. They are exquisitely sharp, so really connected with you, at my fantasy ballroom. Other dancers are all great, absolutely!

You seem to like Riverdance, Let us share your reflections on it.

When I was a college student, watched Riverdance in Japan, I was filled with energy. The last moment they let everything stop, it was goosebumpy. I felt my emotion could connect with theirs.

As the last spurt, 2 lead dancers at the center, face to face, rise into rapture with line dancers, crowds, and music.

Yeah, I love such an emotive energy. I may have the same vibes.

Caribe: Jazz up!

Your dance is filled with motif, for you move your body quickly to make lots movement in it; and the ice let you float to make fluent motion. Your program is Hi-vision! We can see it much clearly on your jazzy EX "Caribe", also choreographed by Kenji.

Tell us about your collaboration, also on "Caribe".

It was an EX following "Libertango"… so first, even we had difficulty in choosing the music. "Let's try an absolutely-different song from Libertango, to make it Akiko's own taste." said Kenji. Then we picked too much difficult song up…

The "too much difficult song" was made a program in "your own taste"!

Jazz, you know it gives the players "improvisation". So we gave the choreography, room for "improvisation", not discipline.

The "improvisation", had increased and made it up, another look! by All-Japan. Kenji, how did he ask you to perform it?

Well, he said "give it your improvisation!".

So well!, you gave it your improvisation!

And you gave it much quicker moves so far. Did you want that?

The song and its sound wants that, that I can give to it. But, that confused crowds, they couldn't give it a clap, - that confused me as well. It's a difficult program to connect with crowds.

…It's a fine, quick, smooth, sharp, and glossy program to figure the music with your own touch. It jazzed a lot troubadours up, I bet. You jazz up on "Caribe".

Akiko SUZUKI 鈴木明子 © Paja

Spin Craftsman

You're a total-packaged lady, as recent top LADIES are. There are many lines: You have wizardry of footworks, but, your spin, it's going to be quite lush, isn't it?
- You have nearly missed All-Level4 in GPS, at Olympics; have done All-Level4 at 4CC!
- Since last season, you have earned more points by [CCoSp], than [CoSp] of your legacy edition. …though it's only 0.5 points, should be regarded as upgrade!
- [spinning of both edge] in Layback and [second difficult variation: catching foot position] in Camel were new released.

Were there many hard works on your spins in the summer of 2009?

There were not so many hard works, yet there was enough time to work on my spins, as my jumps were getting consistent little by little. Now I have a time to keep turning it over my mind, "This should be in this way," like that.

As you made your jumps in a competition, you took your spins in your craft.

What press says - you commented "my spins are weak." @ 2010 World Championships in Torino. That spins, some international commentators seem to add-to-favorites: changing edge (spinning of both edge) in haircutter(Layback); changing foot from Y position (Upright) into broken leg (Sit); 'superb control & balance in Camel' - EUROSPORTS again!; your armworks on handsfree spins such as Camel and Layback; your craftsmanship in the entry/exit of spins, in changing positions of spins.

I'm so pleased, but I have not much flexibility, can't perform the Biellmann spin. Also, I want it to get much more faster. My spins need refinement.

…The perfectionism!

*2010-11 season, [changing edge] is not Level-featured on Layback spin. So that Akiko said "I must take Biellmann in it for Level4…" around the summer. You'll see how it's going on her SP"Jalousie".

I saw your new features for this season: another Layover variation and Butterfly in Camel.

It's not "new", but something various I have practiced every day, as its rules has changed every season. If you have kept learning something, you don't have to do as same as you did before. - The common good. And I guess spin has moved day by day.

Pumpin' Akko for Jumps

Now, you hit the evil, for all LADIES. [e], and its companion [!] - they'll have been on and on at you, from now on… you got to the higher class, Akko.
*Flip/Lutz edge alert [!] molts to be [e] = the wrong edge 2010-11 season.
…well, actually, once you had a bit of incorrect-edged Flip, and you had completed to fix it, YET! Exchanging!! incorrect-edged Lutz in the house! Your advantageous Lutz, has gone?

Akko, What's happening ?

I had only Lutz, before. So "I do have a Flip!", tried to correct the edge… Because I'm not much practical, they easily turn the same. When Flip was corrected, Lutz had turned to Flip.

…Do they turn to be of the same timing? rather than the same edge?

No, of the same edge. I can't handle it well, to curve out (Lutz) with the outside edge / to curve in (Flip) with the inside edge.

Well, we, non-skaters can't handle it, even to imagine that… it's the world of 3-4mm!

Anyway, I have the almost-right Lutz now, though I don't know how it'll be judged.

Since GPF, you had substituted your solid Loop & corrected Flip, for Lutz:
3F-2T, step-3Lo, 2A in SP
3F-2T-2lo, 3T~2A, 3Lo, $ 2nd half $ 3F, 3Lz, 3Lo~2A, 3S in FS
SP step-3Lo made its debut as downgraded, but, overall, it worked! If you jump Lutz 3 times(SP1/FS2), 3 to 6 points could be seized… in the meantime! you HAVE CORRECTED Lutz!! since 4CC, as you said.

So, the forthcoming season, what will you be likely to have, as your 1st choice Jumps? Lutz&Flip? or other?

…"I have corrected Lutz since 4CC." - is what the callers called. It depends on them.

Is it!?

This season, I intend to have Lutz&Flip in SP; 2 Lutz (& 2 Loop) in FS at this moment.

And on your ambition: 2A-3T or {5 types × 7 times triple jumps} onto FS. In China, you shifted 2A-3T to 2A~2A sequence, when you landed the 1st 2A, you explained. For sure, your 2A~2A could be given some GOE bonus, wits help this combination! Since GPF, you had put 3T~2A sequence to display 5 types × 7 times triples, succeeded at GPF and All-Japan!

Will 3 options: 2A-3T(alternative 2A~2A)/3T~2A be likely 2 abreast? or will 2A-3T have still, its priority?

2A-3T has been chosen already.

Yeah, it has bloomed in galas.

About 3T as the second jump of combinations - I watched for a few seconds, that it played you trained 3-3, on the TV program featuring your coach, Hiroshi Nagakubo. I thought you worked on the interval, between the first jump and the second jump.

It's a pump.

Is that like a back-swing(taking back) in hitting, do you float on your 1st jump's extended landing, >> to the 2nd jump?

Yes, I do. Also, that practice works on solo triples at a time. You can't float unless the 1st jump can flow. I'm not physically fitted to jumps, not like the boys who pull down the 2nd triple after a moment's pause. I need "flow" to jump.

- that you have given to your jumps. Now I know the guys, their combo system… they pause not to take a back-swing act, but to settle themselves >> to the 2nd.

- that they can give to their jumps. It's their physical strength. Yuna(Kim), I guess she "flows" on her 3-3, in my ideal way.

What kind of 3-3 do you prepare?

Every kind. I practice to set up 3T following all(5) triples.

I see. You have set up 2A following all triples, that's really useful!

"Let's Dance!"

This is a treat for the girls, who wanna be a dancing queen, like you! Akko.

Many times you have arranged your move, by yourself:
- EX"Caribe" has always some improvisations, as you told,
- FS"West Side Story", you have expanded, as always,
(adding a gesture in dignity, after finger-snapping from 'Jets VS Sharks'; a showmanship-transition between 'Mambo' Step and 'Tonight' [FCCoSp] @Olympics, for example)
- SP"Riverdance", Irish-Flamenco girl impresses her own Flamenco patterns throughout onto the ice, by her daily special ending; with Saudade-tinted Spiral in 6 sec. the 3rd position on Fado music part.
- as I nitpick, you give a ladylike kicking-move, at the entry of your Spiral, and more ladylike position into your unique broken leg spin, or, even you try to decorate a fringe move on your free leg, following Y position, right?
- as EUROSPORTS guy nitpicked, 'Just LOVE! those arms', you can direct your arm joints harmoniously, shoulders-elbows-wrists-hands-fingers really works! Notably, your Camel & Layback spins, that you season with your armworks to taste musically.


Nonetheless! the arrangements, that's your habit, which Little Akiko had, you mentioned before. So, in order to have that habit, to "figure the music with one's own touch" - that's your quote,

How should the girls do? What routines do they need?

I don't have any routine to dance.


Yet, always, I do imagine "how I would move" when I listen to music.

Always, You have images of sound!

I've gotten it. Then I made this new EX("The Tennessee Waltz") by myself by the way…

!! As I imagined that!

For the first time, I have formed my image. I had the image of this song, "I would perform it like this," I had imagined for a long time. And I made in a (last)week, since I had no new EX yet.

Just one week! it has been formed such a program!

- "be honest for the sense", I have to. …in order to do everything, I guess.
Simply, to be moved by various things, like "Wow, it's great"; "what a nice music"; "what a move of this dancer!". To have the sense of every little thing, is what I need to dance. I know, it's so simple.

You're always activated!

In my view, the stage of Figure Skating Single, is exceptional. Alone, surrounded 360° by the audiences, in a spacious rink, moving fast & wide, showing the elements. The girls may get lost on the stage, if they wanna dance there. - "Where should I fasten my moves, where should I take a look?" Akko, you seem to not only look forward or towards crowds and judges, but also fasten your statement eyes on somewhere to make atmosphere. Tell your knack of using a "look".

It's so impressive that you merely leave your glance at the point where you want to bring your energy. I think the face position is much more important. If you turn to leave your face, that's more impressive. Also it's more imaginative, to look down or to look up, it gives you an absolutely different look. Though it's my own way, that is difficult to tell "how to do", I think we should keep turning it over our mind, that a look tells a lot.

A look, works on the measurement of speed and distance, rather than "tells" something. - Figure Skating is a sport as well.

Except for on preparations of jumps, we should tell "how we perform" with our body, with our look as well. That could work. It's nothing like a "knack".

- like a "will".

When you hope "I will tell that", your look tells a lot. The will may work, in my view.

If the girls wanna be an alternative dancer like Akko, who has lots types of music to dance,

What advice will you give?

Well, I haven't learned any dance ever. I have done what I sense…

!? You said "not any dance"?

I did have some class of ballet and jazz dance, when I was an elementary schooler, which were introductory. Even I haven't had a tango class ever.

What!? You only have a Yoga class?

(smiles) Yoga, is not a dance.

(smiles) No, it's not, but a practice, what practice do you have as training?

Yoga and Pilates. I easily wear muscles, often asked "Do you have any weight training?" but I don't.

What!? Your muscular & lean look's ingredients: only Yoga&Pilates?

I guess mine is the skater muscle.

"the skater muscle"… If you have a gymnastic class, ballet class, any dancing class, you're always told "Posture! Posture! & Posture!" "Center of gravity, is on your head! Hook your head to sling yourself." - You know, you can do that!

I had a stooping posture before, that graduated to be straightened, thanks to my mother's preach.

You made it straight, by yourself?

Though it's my mother's work.

- Regarding an advice, I hope they also have the sense of every little thing: things to see, things to hear, things to feel. …hope they do that. "sharpen the sense up", I have to do always.

Well, the girls, be sharpened! by yourself!

Olympics - act 1: winter, so intimate

Around GPS Skate Canada, where you was placed in the struggling 5th, many cheers and wishes flowed through your guestbook.

…Your fans might be all good people, like you! by the way. Even extraordinarily!, to make me smile. One mommy wrote: After watching your FS in China, our family had a conference on you: How brilliant human being can be! We talked to each other, "we would like to see her figure skating, forever."
…A family conference: How brilliant human being can be!

Anyway, in essence, everyone said: ——and I love your dance, on the ice, on the music. Go Akko, to be yourself. …Yes, they know, importantly your elements are the built-in parts of your dance. And they have known the parts could be separated, who watched your FS at Skate Canada, when you turned the volume down on your dancing, to set the elements to the max: trying {5 types × 7 times triples}(4 times in the 2nd half), with 3-2-2 and some flaws, but without fall; 2 Level4 & 1 almost-Level4 spins; Level4 spiral & Level3 straight line step sequences. Although, this requires so heavy guts to the ladies, you were determined enough, to make the last 2 jumps 3Lo~2A, 3S.

What did you think, for Skate Canada?

GPS in 2008-09 season, that I was given an assignment of the only one competition: NHK Trophy, which I had given my all. There I hadn't taken care of GPF. But last season, Skate Canada: the 2nd GPS competition after winning in China, there I had felt "how difficult to motivate myself is", "well, that's how the top skaters motivate themselves to compete." I had known that for the first time. There I hadn't taken care of GPF, either, though, there people's expectations radiated "You've won one, then will qualify for the Final." - it was "pressure" on me, and on my coach as well. He confessed so.

After your FS WSS, your fans sent you messages: "Don't take care of your jumps or the elements, but dance!", also Shizuka, commentated on your performance: "no… something is wrong with her…"

Well, something was wrong with my WSS - influenced by the PCS of SP, that I was shocked to see… I couldn't motivate myself to FS. "What should I do, in order to be acceptable?" "But, there's nothing to change, in a day." like that. - That, the experience at Skate Canada blew me onto the Final, I could re-motivate myself to GPF.

You were blowing at Skate Canada, to be undefeated!

Then, GPF. You got a strategy of jumps, got your maximum dancing back as well, & got a bronze medal, Akko! …Yeah, as the "mommy" got a family conference again! And finally, you got a ticket to Vancouver! at All-Japan, where you reminded yourself: "Olympics, scores, results… concerns, BUT, I have a performance to give, right?" - as you said after SP. Yes! you gave it!! your fans and crowds grabbed it!! Yeah! the mommy's family conference could be brilliant!

Tell us about your flaring December. How did you motivate yourself, for GPF to All-Japan?

After Skate Canada, I didn't back away. "Just Go! again," to GPF. I could get myself ahead. I guess my determination worked! like a bull at a gate.

You won a bronze at GPF, so it would help you a lot, to get over a gate of Olympics, wouldn't it?

No, as they confirmed the team at the end of All-Japan.

- the final answer.

But I didn't change anything on my preparations. I trained as always, then I left to All-Japan.

"I have a performance to give" - I reminded myself, that means: "what performance do I want to give?" I asked myself, even though people do judge the performance. Because I hadn't taken care of "what performance I want to give", at Skate Canada. I left that, I was concerned that "how they judge the performance", then I forgot "what I want to perform". So I needed to remind myself "I have a performance to give, right?". I had kept turning it over my mind, "what performance do I want to give?".

WSS at 4CC, was like one at Skate Canada… my jumps had not much problems, however, my emotions was not much, it caused problems on my performance - not powerful. I knew the difficulty of handling elements&emotions.

If TES(Total Element Score) satisfies you, you're happy. BUT on Akko, people say "Akko didn't give her dance today!" "Give your dance! Please!" "She got Levels, but left her dance!" …we caused problems by ourselves. I guess, that means people and you are in sync. I know the reason why your program makes happiness.

I was surprised that you said after your FS of All-Japan: "I remember, I'm at All-Japan now." Did you forget that {you're at All-Japan to make an Olympic team}, in the extreme of your life?

Yes! I let me fall in WSS. - Now you know the reason why I smiled when I slipped there.
*after landing 3Lo(the 3rd jump in the beginning)
Now I know no one could smile on their fall, at All-Japan.

NO! ONE! ELSE! Even you smiled with an ad-lib, you turned and showed a giggling gesture.

In that way I have done as always, in training. In training, the coaches would laugh, "What a silly fall!". That fall, they took it serious like "This deduction, -1 points would let her lose." but I didn't worry at all!

me either!

like "Well, I have slipped."

"Well, Akko has slipped." "with an ad-lib."

- that's all. That I wonder at all. I think I was just falling in it. I had no idea, about what I should prepare for the next jump. Not at all!

…No one could hear that, at all!

Akiko SUZUKI 鈴木明子 © Paja
2009-10FS"West Side Story" @ 2009 All-Japan

Olympics - act 2: bud, to spring

So! your Act. 2 opened, this Olympic year 2010. Late January, at 4CC you tested some refine(ele)ments: corrected Lutz-combo (which was not used, though); step-3Lo in SP; the remastered Step of 'Firedance', stamped Level4 mark!

How was the preparation, to Vancouver? particularly, on your jumps! that earned much more GOEs at the "West Side" Colosseum.

Quality jumps, that I had been preparing. So it was going to appear in competitions little by little.

Yes, they appeared! in FS of the Olympic Games, in the extreme of athlete's life! You got plenty of GOEs. You turned on the charm [positive aspects]: 5. good extension on landing; 6. good flow from entry to exit, to earn +1 points per a successful jump. Tara(LIPINSKI) paid them a compliment. …As a jumper likes your jumps, a spinner likes your spins, a step dancer likes your steps, an artist the likes of Sasha(COHEN) likes your artistry.

so pleased… but now I'm trying to be such a complete skater, who can show everything of Figure Skating.

Then I was trying to show much better performance, not preparing for Olympics. I made almost no mistake at All-Japan, so what's next? - to refine all pieces. I had no special preparation.

Since 4CC, 'Firedance' Step sequence had shown lots refined [upperbody movements]. Your dance had spread up and down to left to right, quickly&slowly contrastingly. In both SP/FS Step sequences, there you danced on the ice as if you danced on the floor. Moving your every part with delay, or, using core strength to twist your upper and lower body; to stretch your arms and legs to different directions, to show frills on the time and the space. - That's [FULL use of upperbody movement], exactly! and that's full of life! I thought your "face" had danced (using your neck to move your head), since 4CC. Your head was spun off your body, when you turned. - that's difficult move even if you dance on the floor.

- That's what I thought in order to get Level up…

At once! you could do what you thought!? …then you got Level4 actually, in SP of 4CC. What were the acceptable aspects, in your opinion?

The levels depend on the caller. We can't call it. Anyone takes the Level4 features in their elements. I determined what was acceptable or not, and what I should do next.

People are going to say "You look so easily", when I do the same in the Step as I did before. So the coaches put decoration. At first, I look so busy, due to difficult footworks, but I get used it, they claim "unacceptable!", I look so easily. Then difficult decoration is going to spread. Though, it's amusing!

Step by step, your Step gets completed!

On both 'Firedance'/'Mambo' you sink-and-spin in the way like Hydroblading. Is it such as "Move In the Field"? You did it in 2007-08 programs.

No, it's not anything. Only I wonder if it looks good.

What!? it's nothing!? but, no one does it…

If anyone bobs down, you feel "Oh!". Anyone can do it slowly, I guess.

Oh! I've seen someone does it slowly! Yours' so quick, to make us "WoW!".

- that I'm trying.

I see! now let's try to name it!

…Well, not very pleased. We don't have to do… (smiles)


because anyone can do it if they want.

Meanwhile, at 4CC you testified again, that you need explosion - you quoted, need fully emotions into the assembled program, as you're fired with EX "Libertango", that you get back since 4CC…

There I just wanted to present "Libertango"… since I couldn't perform at previous 4CC, and hadn't performed enough in the international competitions. Also, I hoped "Libertango" would sweep a flop there.

Then you came to life, again?


Akiko SUZUKI 鈴木明子 © Paja
2008-11EX"Libertango" @ 2010 4CC

Olympics - act 3: for Happy 4 Minutes

The games in Vancouver. Irish-Flamenco girl had a tough day, but… Maria, "was along with the music, to skate like singing." "So happy 4 minutes were there." - said Akiko SUZUKI, returned. THAT'S ALL!! that your Olympics, Akko!

…but please forgive a nitpicker to nitpick:

Maria skated like singing… Actually! & Amazingly!! you did sing, on the stage of the Olympic Games! at the entry of Spiral, in the beginning of the song 'Maria'! Maria had sung "Maria~♪"! Remember that?

Always I sing "Maria~♪" there.


We saw re-styled Maria: a ponytail, day dress! You had a projection for it. How did it get completed, as Maria in Vancouver?

After qualifying for Olympics, I imagined the stage of the Olympic Games, to dress up like that, as folks recommended. Though I haven’t imagined that WSS so glitters.

You saw a dress rack at the backstage of Broadway musical.

There was no dress like that… Maria, even she isn't dressed in red. But, you don't need the same dress as original. I imagined the fitting of it with the music and the stage.

I saw an American fashion critic's thumbs up for Maria, they said "she looks like 'I've come to the Olympics!'".

Maria's dress, it was remade sleeveless after 4CC. A day dress fitted your WSS so well.

Naturally, I don't fit a costume with sleeves. As folks say "You look fit without sleeves."

YES! Everyone says! We wanna savor your dance, sense your flow of arms-back-neck muscles, it dances so supremely and so sweetly!

I, would like to show my arms and back.




Akiko SUZUKI 鈴木明子 © Paja

and expanded Maria! expanded Mambo to Tonight, moreover, you had worked for so long time to retouch your arms position, on the last Layback (backward) Spin of [FCCoSp]. It had 3 major ways: hold your body tightly by All-Japan, "love"-looking; cross your fists at 4CC, "wish"-looking; reverse-clasp your hands at Olympics, "wish" looked so well to see! Gimme its production notes!

Well, it's nothing to suppose.


I might perform with a lot ad-libs,

Did you say "nothing to suppose"!? Can you act moment to moment?

Yes. As I don't imagine "how to move".

What!? You mean, you can "visualize" your look unless you act?


Now you're taking a moment's pause, too! Don't you remember? that you crossed your fists at 4CC, but you clasped your hands in the reverse way at Olympics!

I don't remember what I had done. At all.



You don't remember! AT ALL! …I imagined, you had revised your look in checking videos, THEN visualized such a revised edition at Olympics.

That was the edition: letting me free at that moment.

…Oh well, I see it's the shape of "feelings", isn't it?

Yes it is.

As the art has the shape of heart! …Well, I imagined as if you - the puppeteer operated the puppet - yourself. "There's nothing like the puppeteer is the puppet!" But there's nothing like a soul, as well.

In training, playing the same SP/FS music every day, the program is not the same every time. Feelings, momentum, work on it. - When the coach told me off, for example. A Hard Rock WSS I present, while Maria serenades. I act moment to moment, THEN the moves will be featured, if the coaches and choreographers give them thumbs up. Like, "Lovely that move! Flavor it!" As for my choreography, they don't show how to move and I show them my own moves, then they "Lovely!" & I "flavor this!" - that's how to make my choreography.

How devoted you are to your choreography! As for your dance, they are like your producers & you are like an artist.

Akiko SUZUKI 2010-11

I reckon that Figure Skating is in the shape of coin. One, is the side of the Arts with rules. The other side, is the Sports. Sometimes, people argue the one is of more worth than the other. But, this is one coin of the figure skaters' own that both sides can't be rated, and… it's their "art".

If the "art" is to form image, simply we know the sport is: to make ourselves "art", when we try the sport. The sport need us to image the timing and the motion in sync, so, we give ourselves, to try for image. That is "art" itself, …on my fantasy side!

Well, Akko! the last question: Tell us what kind of "art", do you expect of yourself, the forthcoming season?

To refine what I felt in getting through the Olympic Games, to shape up myself to the next level. - as a seasonal theme… I don't want to stop yet. I do go this way, to go into this season.

Lovely! "I don't want to stop yet."

nonstop, forward, I wanna go. As I have done before. I hope to perform it better and better, not only as the sport, but also as the art. I shouldn't be satisfied with WSS - my best program, but should create another good one, to be favorites of people, I wish. "To the next level", from now on.

As the sport, you're going to have more difficult elements.

That's amusing!, I guess. - I guess, still I have a lot to give, to continue competing. If I haven't that, I would turn to galas. Still, I'm amused at competing, and I see room in myself.

Of course you have room! we have a lot to wanna see! a lot programs to want you show!

- Then, someday I'll get satisfied, I would quit. So I work on a daily basis, to get my performance satisfying… but if you have only to work hard, you can't continue, so I work amusingly to continue.

"Handling elements&emotions", would it still concern you this season?

I think so… as elements' getting difficult, it's getting more difficult. However, I'm not amused at the same elements as last season. I expect a soul of myself, hope to have it.

Tell us about 2010-11 brand-new programs.

SP is a tango program("Jalousie" choreographed by Kenji Miyamoto), which has a more gentle feeling than "Libertango", I hope it will imagine the woman's "glory". So wild girl looks up in "Libertango", while "Jalousie" woman looks down so gently. - that I imagine.

Your tango traces the rhythm of tango, both of staccato and legato. Gradually "Libertango" girl becomes "Jalousie" woman, flows on legato and edges on staccato with all her heart. Besides, lots lovely moves of "Libertango" girl's are there, "Libertango" lovers miss it! …I saw the very first play of "Jalousie" at Dreams On Ice, it was strong and glorious. Amusing and soulful tango that was!

FS "Fiddler on the Roof"(choreographed by Pasquale Camelengo), I really love to perform now. It's a musical, as same as last season, but the story is not the same at all. Poor, suffering Jews, people see the light in their lives - the story I hope to tell. The slow part: 'Sunrise, Sunset', is my favorite song, I hope to figure it aesthetically.

Even the first play, the program went with music, story, & your performance. A seamless program. It shows the light.

It will have more and more arrangements, to be my own "Fiddler on the Roof", I wish.

As you told, EX is "The Tennessee Waltz" choreographed by yourself, Akiko Suzuki. When the music pause, you let everything stop, then you left a grace note to move again. There crowds' and your image-of-sound seemed to be in sync, they and you got tied as a knot. A boiling point like you made a difficult jump in a competition. Is it the only EX this season?

I may have another one.

can't wait!

——and have waited, until Friends On Ice(: Shizuka Arakawa presents), THEN! Bellydance on the Ice!:

"Ice Queen (by Dinletir)/Prophecy (by Harem)" WoWzer!!
*Prophecy is a popular song, Ice Queen was picked up, not for its title.

(smiles) Not so much. They asked me to perform something new for FOI. On THE ICE(: held by Nagoya local television), we performed a bellydance act in the finale. And folks compliments to me "You match bellydance so well!" pushed me to make it. Then I asked Miki Sakagami, a creative director of THE ICE, also a choreographer of that bellydance act, to collaborate.

& The veil matches it so well!

- that I was recommended by a bellydancer, who taught me a lot in a class.

It is not the "fake belly", which has been infecting all over the world - just a foxy dance. It has a soul! of bellydance: waving × carving continuously. Whole bellydance!

Not enough, for you can't show the upperbody movement of bellydance, unless your lowerbody doesn't move. I was concerned, about how much belly taste I should pour. And I decided to put the step sequence on the last part, since it's a Figure Skating, to entertain the Figure Skating Fans. They come to watch Figure Skating, you can't have a lot stops. Handling bellydance&Figure Skating was so difficult as well, but when I performed the first,

The Figure Skating Fans went crazy!

(smiles) …because… due to such a costume.

NOT! ONLY! costume! but also, such a long distance of your skating coverage, that imagines hardworkingness of bellydance, and such footworks which is enriched by bellydance moves, that's wavin'n'carvin' nonstop. A TOTAL bellydance!

Not. (smiles) Hardly enough… Shortly, I had prepared since it was made. It began to make its way in the end of FOI. When I performed, the crowds gave me good vibes, to take it on its way.

Your first competition is Finlandia Trophy(Oct. 9-10).

- where I competed 2 years ago. looking forward to going there again.

I bet you'll make them "WOW"!

…I can't bet. (smiles)

YES! we can! if all your program goes on its way.

No. (smiles) but I hope it goes into their favorites folders.

ALL 4 programs will be added!

SO give them my ALL!


☞ You got a message from Akiko SUZUKI.

At Cup of China, you got an arts-and-crafts-quality bunny, so charming and so poetic, that is your portrait.

Akiko SUZUKI 鈴木明子 © David Carmichael
Akiko SUZUKI @ 2009 Cup of China

Extra Time

Akko, you have a performance to give. Suddenly you couldn't have it, but eventually you can have it, and give it now. Imagine, Brothers & Sisters there, who (intend to) have a work to give; who (intend to) give it their all - "not one day but today!". People chill them "You don't have to do it." …Well, it's my case. People ask me Q.Why do you do? …I have no answer, stumble to get it a joke A.Because I'm in green days! …We have "a work to give", but we can't give it yet, BUT we give our all right now. I wonder if, you - such a mentor sister, nudge such Brothers & Sisters.

☞ Akiko SUZUKI @ Howa Sports Land on September 1, 2010

((translation)) As you see your way, the way goes on. - that I believe. I hope you don't give up and you believe in yourself. Let's do it.

THIS IS IT! Everyone's gonna see their way!!

Oh… Thank you!

…I have been amused at my life, for a couple of years. I do stumble on various things, too, but in the end, I know "I'm amused". Life could be shining, you know. I am supported, to be shined, then I could shine people, I wish. I hope to be such a person. Or, life should be shining, right? then you have a lot to go. Even if you're concerned, that could shine yourself!


- hope you think so. hope I think so, too. A lot flops may happen, but don't leave our souls away. And "the dreams come true"… no,

No, we don't wanna call it "dream",

No, we don't, but "we can give it!", I guess.

If you feel "the life sucks", your life sucks indeed. People say "everything sucks", to make me sad. "everything sucks" - No way! something delicious to eat, makes your heart leap!


Well, I hope to have the sense of every little thing, as I said. I should be such a person. …Lately I'm like such a person, I guess. "Life should be shining!" "Then I have a lot to go! definitely!"

Your sense, reflects the moment - like your mojo eyes.