TOKYO (Reuters) – Shoma Uno first stepped on the ice at five, but it was the rough-and-tumble of hockey he had his eyes on – until a chance meeting with a Japanese figure skater changed everything.
The skater was Mao Asada, now a Japanese household name and two-time Olympian who retired earlier this year. She told Uno he was cute, and asked if he’d ever thought of figure skating.
Uno - Jumper - Flip - Competition - Heels
Now Uno, at 20, is known as a phenomenal jumper who in 2016 became the first to successfully land a quadruple flip in competition and is hard on the heels of compatriot and Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu for a rising number of podium finishes.
“There he was, learning hockey, and Mao was on the ice nearby. She suggested he try figure skating,” Uno’s grandfather Fujio told weekly magazine Shukan Shincho in April 2017.
Rink - Invitation
“If he hadn’t been living that close to a rink, he might never have gone or gotten that invitation.”
Some 13 years after that meeting, Uno was world junior champion. In April 2017, he won silver at the world senior championships, finishing just points behind Hanyu.
Obstacles - Uno - Silver - Grand - Prix
“I haven’t really felt I’ve met that many obstacles up to now,” Uno said after taking silver at the Grand Prix Final last year, after Hanyu withdrew with an injury.
“If at first I’m nervous and think something is a big barrier, then I just do the same thing every day and what I’d thought was an obstacle, a wall, just becomes normal.
“So far I’ve been able to come along doing what I like, what I can only do at this age.”
His narrow loss to Hanyu at the world championships made him start to...
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