Why Japanese Skaters are so Good

After having observed and skated in more than one location, I have figured out some things, and can safely say that I have figured out the reason for why Japan has always been one of the top countries when it comes to figure skating athletes.  Here are the reasons I have found:


1. More people skate than in America

I get that Japan has about a third of the population of America.  So I am not saying that there literally are more people who ice skate than there are figure skaters in America.  That would most likely be impossible.  When you take into account ratios,  there are more people skating and taking lessons than in the US.  Everywhere I have gone, there have been at least 20 skaters practicing.  And there were not obviously skilled ones and ones still learning.  No.  I am talking at least double axels.  The skills these kids have is insane.  I have also seen more speed skaters than I ever did in the US.

2. There are no crazy moms

I get that this might be a cultural difference, but I am pretty sure that parenting plays a part either way.  I do see parents.  They do exist, but just not in the way where you will always see parents hanging around watching their kids, cheering their kids, and telling their kids/coaches what they need to do.  Some parents just drop their kids off and come pick them up later.  Usually, when I see parents of kids who skate well, they really push their children to work harder than they have ever worked, EVERY TIME.  But parents here, are encouraging and basically let the kids make their own decisions.  They make known what they want their kids to do in an indirect way, so that the kids still feel like they are making a decision on their own.  You might still call it crazy moms, but these kids are much more happy about skating then those other kids.  Plus, they are nice to everyone, not just their clique.

3. Coaches don't yell

You might think this means yelling at the kids because they did something wrong, like a punishment.  I get that, but that's wrong.  What I really mean, is that they let the students go and do something, the coach watches, then the student checks in to see if the coach approves.  If the coach shakes their head, the student does it again, and again, until things are perfect.  They seem to do this, to get the students to find the mistakes they are doing themselves, without relying on someone else to tell them how to do it.  I saw one kid, do a triple salcow, at least 12 times before he finally sought council from his coach.  This may or may not be a good thing, but it really seems to be working for the students.

4. Students actually practice for hours, on their own

I mentioned that parents will drop off their kids or even stay and just wait in the heated rooms, but there are a large number of them that arrive on their own.  They come to the rink, do a full warm up off ice, practice for hours on the ice, then do more work outs off ice, then they finally stretch and go home.  I was amazed that they were doing this all on their own.  It made me feel like I really didn't love the sport at all because I was not doing half of that stuff when I skated.

5. Classes are a thing here

Besides speed skating, I have yet to see a coach working one on one with a student.  All the coaches I have seen had more than one student at once.  The coach would tell them what to do, each student, one at a time, would perform the element, and the coach would have the studetns give their opinions before the coach said anything.  Again, they are promoting them to think for themselves.
This next point is the last one, and I think is most important to how great they are at skating.

6.  They still do figures

Several times in Nagano, I saw one coach in particular, have students doing either very elegant dance moves or figures.  And today, I saw several girls, doing figures as practice.  All the levels of skating is the same.  They do the pre-preliminary, novice, junior, all of that is exactly the same.  They do the MIF and FS tests.  They just add figures.  They don't test in figures, they just do them.  They still do actual figures competitions.  My coworkers have even asked me if I could do certain figures because they apparently display competitions on television here for figures.  I can't believe people actually watch that, that aren't even figure skaters.  I didn't think anyone coudl possibly appreciate it outside of skaters.    Needless to say, I was very shocked and amazed to find this out.  I am pretty sure, this is the main reason why they are so good.  
Do you agree with everything I have said?  I am pretty sure that there might be other factors, but I have not found them out.  For now, I just will sit back and be amazed at all the wonderful skaters, and try to match their energy and skill level.  Ok, maybe not the skill level, but definitely their energy.