Chapter 12: 2012 Skate America

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Kent, Washington……..

Brian, Yuzuru, and I were at Kent, Washington for Skate America. It was the first of six events for the Grand Prix. Yuzuru looked a bit nervous. He wasn’t the only male Japanese figure skater competing in the event.

Takahiko Kozuka and Tatsuki Machida were great skaters. Hopefully, Yuzuru could get at least the top three to gain enough points to qualify for the Grand Prix Final. 

Once we got to the venues, many media outlets from Japan had their cameras on Yuzuru. He really didn’t like cameras on the rink during practices or training. It was a form of distraction for the other skaters.

Personally, I didn’t like the camera’s too and Brian knew. Yuzuru knew too. So, when we got off the bus, Yuzuru stood next to me away from the cameras. I carried his duffle bag while he rolled his small suitcase.

Once inside the venue, we walked to our designated spot. “Go warm up,” I told him. He gave me a nod and got his yoga mat out from his duffle bag. He laid the mat out and sat on it. He wore his earphones to concentrate. 

I sat away from him so that he was distracted. I looked at the other skates. Some were talking with their coaches while others started to warm up for the competition. Some of the Japanese Skating Federation officials were here too.

I watched closely. One Japanese Skating Federation official walked up to me. “May I ask who you are?” he asked me in English. He was an older person. Yuzuru looked at us. I stood up from the bench.

“Kino Ayako desu,” I said and bowed to him. He gave me a nod. “I’m an assistant manager for Brian Orser, Hanyu Yuzuru’s coach. I also serve as a translator,” I told him. “Ah. I see. Hopefully, you aren’t a distraction for Mr. Hanyu,” he said. 

{What does that suppose to mean?}

I felt a bit offended. If they really knew who I was…he probably wouldn’t ask me the question. 

“She isn’t a distraction.”

We turned our head to Yuzuru who got up from his mat. “She makes sure that I am on time for training and other things. When my coach is not at the rink, she steps in to train me,” he explained to the official.

The official looked at me. I knew that he wanted to say more but, I needed to stop this. “If you excuse me, I believe that Mr. Hanyu need to focus on the competition ahead,” I said and sat back down on the bench.

“Yuzuru. Continue with stretching for a few more minutes and run a bit to warm up,” I told him. Yuzuru gave me a nod and sat back down on the mat. The official walked away to his colleagues and started to talk. I knew that they were talking about me.


It was time for the competition. Yuzuru changed into his costume and wore his skates. I knew that they wouldn’t fall apart on him. We walked to the rink and waited for his turn. Once the skater was off the ice, Yuzuru got onto the ice and did his ritual.

Brian gave him a few words. I carried his Winnie the Pooh tissue box with me. After listening to Brian and shaking his hand, he looked at me and gave his hand out to me. {Huh?} I gave my hand out to him and gave his hand a squeeze.

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