Figure Skating

Shoma Uno ready to rebound from tearful Grand Prix season debut

Olympic silver medallist has been working informally with Stephane Lambiel and says Grenoble disappointment made him realise how much he loves skating

By Rory Jiwani ·

Shoma Uno says he is feeling "less anxious than at anytime this season" as he seeks a revival at this weekend's Rostelecom Cup.

The PyeongChang 2018 silver medallist had his worst ever result in international competition at the Internationaux de France two weeks ago, finishing eighth after falling three times in his free skate.

The 21-year-old wept as he sat alone in the kiss and cry, but says he got over it fairly quickly before going to Switzerland to link up with another Olympic figure skating silver medallist, Turin 2006 runner-up Stephane Lambiel.

"Right after the free I was in tears, but by the time I was back at the hotel I had it together. In a way, because I screwed up as badly as I could, it was almost easier to move on from it." Shoma Uno on his free skate at the Internationaux de France

Lambiel is with Uno in Moscow for his second Grand Prix assignment of the season.

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Shoma's slump

This last eight months have certainly not gone to plan for the Japanese skater.

After claiming his first international title at February's Four Continents, Uno was fourth at the World Championships in Saitama and then finished third at the World Team Trophy in Fukuoka.

Those results prompted him to cut ties with Machiko Yamada and Mihoko Higuchi, his trainers since he was five years old.

Uno attended the summer camp of Eteri Tutberidze - the coach of Olympic champion Alina Zagitova and young Russian sensations Alexandra Trusova, Alena Kostornoia and Anna Shcherbakova - but opted not to make it a permanent arrangement.

He spent some time with Lambiel in September before coming from behind to beat compatriot Sota Yamamoto in October's Finlandia Trophy.

But his first Grand Prix assignment in Grenoble was a huge disappointment, dropping from fourth after the short program to eighth overall.

Shoma Uno during his free skate at the 2019 Internationaux de France in Grenoble

Uno said in Moscow, "Up until recently, I always felt that skating would be no fun without results. But even though I made a ton of mistakes and didn't get the result I was looking for, I still had the desire to compete and was already looking ahead to the next meet.

"It made me realise how much I love skating. I was practising well when I went to Switzerland right after that." - Shoma Uno on his reaction to his Internationaux de France setback

While he cannot now reach next month's Grand Prix Final in Turin, he hopes to put in a stronger performance in Moscow.

"At the end of the day, the competitions are what you practice for. I can't sit here and say I will definitely do well at any meet, but I'm probably less anxious than at anytime this season."

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The Lambiel link

Uno does not have a formal relationship with Lambiel yet, but says he has enjoyed working with the Swiss former skater who offered to coach him after his second place at the Japan Open behind Nathan Chen.

"Stephane was kind enough to offer to coach me for this time. I know this sounds awkward because that's not to say the relationship won't continue, but for now it's just this time.

"He is really kind. Like in Switzerland when I was in the poor form I was in, I was thinking way too much about it myself.

"What I look for in a coach is not technical advice but more mental, emotional support. I felt I would be happy working with him; felt really close to him." - Shoma Uno on working with Stephane Lambiel

Lambiel has admired Uno since watching him take singles silver at the Innsbruck 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games, and spoke to reporters after watching practice with students from his Skating School of Switzerland.

He reflected, "It is always great to feel the adrenaline of competition. I really enjoy this feeling and I still remember from when I was competing.”

On his temporary charge he added, "His skating is very beautiful, he has a strong personality."

There is, however, something of a language barrier with Uno admitting, "I don't understand him. I pick up words here and there and just kind of guess what he's trying to say."

We will see if those words of advice help this weekend.