January 17, 2023 | at the FISU Winter University Games
On a beautiful Sunday night, the queen of winter sports came to an end with the 2023 FISU World University Games in Lake Placid. Team Japan took the top two places in the men’s and women’s singles skating matches.
Among the women, Mai Mihara was first, followed by teammate Kaori Sakamoto and Korean Yelim Kim.
Sota Yamamoto and Tatsuya Tsuboi took 1-2 places among men, and the podium was completed by Italian Nikolay Memola.
Mihara, who defended her FISU Games title from Krasnoyarsk 2019, is studying at Konan University in Japan, where she studies management and psychology.
“I am very happy to go to my second University Games and win the gold medal for the second time. This is my treasure, she said.
It’s normal for Mihara to sleep four hours a day, but she’s still able to keep both her academics and athletics at an elite level as being a student and athlete is very important to her.
“I usually wake up to exercise, then go to school to study and come home to exercise. And repeat, she said.
Bronze medalist Kim agrees that juggling school and training is difficult, but she enjoys being named student athlete because she believes it’s something special that not everyone can experience.
“There are more things to consider when I’m a student because I have to focus more on my studies. However, when I was young, I didn’t experience school life as much as others, so there are certainly aspects of the university that I value and enjoy.”
Few figure skaters continue their sports career after graduation. This is due to the nature of the sport as figure skating takes its toll, both physically and mentally.
Figure skating also requires a great deal of time to master both the artistry and physicality of the sport, causing figure skaters to consider retiring as they enter college-level full-time studies.
However, Kim wants to be the beginning of changing this stereotype.
“There are not many figure skaters at the university and I want to be a good example for future skaters so that they can continue to enjoy the sport while studying,” she said.
Both Mihara and Kim were heading home shortly after the figure skating gala to return to training ahead of the 2023 world championships in March.
“My goal is March, the world championships. So I want to look great in short and casual shows,” Mihara said with a smile.
“I’m very happy with my results at the FISU matches, but I want to work on my mistakes and give a performance that I’ll be more happy with at the world championships,” Kim concluded.
Written by Diana Hong, FISU Young Reporter
We would like to thank the official partner of FISU, Qiaodan Ltd., which has been providing outstanding uniforms to the FISU family and international technical officials since 2015. Qiaodan is a valuable partner for FISU as it continues to provide support during postponing events due to the global pandemic and recently extended its partnership with FISU to and including 2025.