20 shades of Shoma Uno

Note that this post was written on December 18th 2017, the day after Shoma Uno’s 20th birthday. Hence the title and a light humorous tone of this article.]

Yesterday Shoma Uno turned 20. This is just his third season among seniors, but in this relatively short time span he managed to make a lot of people all over the world fall in love with him. Fervently searching for any kind of information about their favorite skater, Shoma’s fans dug through the entire Japanese Internet, many started learning Japanese language specifically in order to be able to learn more about this skater. He changed the lives of many—and this is not just some empty rhetoric. He changed my life as well, turning it in some rather unexpected directions. Shoma himself once said that he would love to remain in people’s hearts rather than in record lists. He is undoubtedly on the right way.

The post below is not about my personal feelings about Shoma Uno though—rather, it is a random list of curious or funny facts about Shoma that might be not particularly well-known outside the ‘Shomaland’. It gives a different perspective on who this skater is and what does he look like outside the ice rink.

These are simply 20 random facts about Shoma Uno, 20 shades of his personality.

1. Shoma is an elder brother in Uno’s family. He and Itsuki get along very well. Itsuki often accompanies Shoma on his trips. They have entirely different characters though. Shoma himself has recently acknowledged that he took more after his mom than dad.

Shoma and Itsuki
4F — First attempts

2. Shoma’s official height is 159cm (5.22 feet). He is one of the shortest figure skaters in the senior circuit, but he has a few tricks: at the post-competition parties, he always chooses the smallest junior skater, proposes to take a picture, and then advances to the foreground in order to appear taller. 

Unfortunately, this is of no help when Shoma is approached by a male pair skater.

3. Shoma’s senpai who he always looks up to is Daisuke Takahashi. When Shoma was still a child, he received a video tape with a personal message from Daisuke. The two skaters crossed their paths at the Japan national championship in 2011, which Daisuke won, and then in the following championships of 2012 and 2013. In this last pre-Olympic competition, Shoma managed to make it to the last group of skaters in the free program and skated side by side with his senpai in the last warm-up group. Their relationships are exemplary.

4. The person who encouraged Shoma to start his figure skating career was not Daisuke, however, but Mao Asada. Her photo together with Shoma is undoubtedly one of the hits in the collection of Shoma’s child photos.

5. Shoma is obsessed with playing mobile games on his phone. At the competitions, he is often caught at the scene by other competitors.

6. Shoma hates losing. When his younger brother Itsuki once won him in table tennis, he was secretly training for a while to overpower him next time. On one TV program, Shoma stunned everyone with his darts skills—one wonders if that was the result of another secretive training, too. He hates losing, preferring to attack (‘ATTACK!!!!’).

7. Shoma eats meat three times a day—on breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A dietary diversity is achieved by eating different kinds of meat: ‘to eat yakiniku, yakiniku, and yakiniku is no good’, says Shoma, ‘but yakiniku, yakiniku, steak is a different story’.

8. Vegetables, on the other hand, is not something Shoma really likes. During his long flights from one competition to another, he tends to forget to drink his vegetable juice. Shoma’s fans noticed this unexplainable forgetfulness and always try to remind Shoma to eat his veggies. They throw plushy cabbage and peas on the ice after Shoma’s skate, and no other than Shizuka Arakawa has recently invited Shoma to try some freshly cooked veggies: ‘maybe next time’ was his resolute answer.

Shoma’s new physical trainer, however, found an effective solution to this problem: from now on, Shoma will be supplied by vegetable juice every time he commits an error in a competition. The first juice box has found its happy owner right after Shoma’s exhibition skate in Nagoya, where he popped his axel.

Shoma once confessed that he prefers to trust his body, and his body does not want to hear anything remotely related to vegetables.

9. Famously, Shoma sleeps and yawns a lot. Really a lot. ‘The sleeping/yawning Shoma’ has already become a meme, and a nickname for many Shoma lovers all over the world.

10. After finishing his program, Shoma finds it rather difficult sometimes to find his way to the Kiss&Cry couch. Getting out of character after a performance is not easy…

Moreover, Shoma is not always well aware of where he is at the moment, or at least where he has recently been (confirmed by the Finnish embassy), so one wonders whether he ever gets out of his character…

11. Initially, it was not characteristic of Shoma to openly express his emotions, so Shoma’s coaches and fellow skaters had to teach him a few tricks: Machiko Yamada, for instance, taught him to bow and wave his hands in the Kiss & Cry,

while Yuzuru Hanyu has considerably improved the latter move

and also showed Shoma how to increase the efficacy of this move by adding a pleasant and disarming smile.

Other skaters provided some further basic training for Shoma’s cheek muscles. One can safely say that Shoma is now one of the best in all these moves.

12. Shoma likes to practice: he runs to an ice rink at the earliest opportunity. His practice sessions with Mihoko Higuchi pass in atmosphere of sincerity and friendliness. The success of Shoma’s practice sessions depends on whether or not his body ‘works’ and his legs ‘run’ and ‘jump’. Shoma regularly communicates with his coach, reporting all minutiae of his physical condition. The coach laughs. Shoma laughs, too. Thus passes the training.

13. Mihoko Higuchi’s location at the rink is known as ‘Fluffy’s bar’ (or ‘At Fluffy’s’): the bartender Mihoko aka ‘Fluffy’ serves drinks, smiles at her main client and is always ready to maintain any conversation. ‘Fluffy’s bar’—recommended by Shoma Uno.

14. One of the key motives in Shoma’s skating is, without doubt, ‘merging with ice’. During his practice sessions, Shoma shows a particular tenderness and affection towards the ice—after falling down, he is never quick to rise. Instead, he will throw his legs up in a theatrical manner, lie down for a while, sit, look at the bar’s signboard, laugh, and only then get back up.

At times, Shoma’s feelings towards the ice seem almost too affectionate…

15. Shoma and velvet, velvet and Shoma: a rich topic that attracted attention of Nagoya’s leading scholars. A series of monographs and PhD theses on this topic is already under way. British scholars have likewise launched a new series of publications by the Oxford University Press, with a particular focus on modern reception of velvet pants in Shoma’s programs. 

16. If Shoma Uno were your roommate, you would expect the following: a) a total chaos and mess in your room, b) Shoma Uno walking in casually with his shoes on, c) Shoma Uno jumping into bed, d) games-games-games, e) the soundtrack to ‘Kimi no na wa’ put on repeat, and, finally, alas, f) polluted air. He does let one go—confirmed by Keiji Tanaka.

17. The most famous part of Shoma Uno’s body—at least among his fans and commentators—is ‘mighty thighs’. According to British Eurosport experts, it is ‘mighty thighs’ that often allow Shoma to land his jumps and stay firmly on the ice.

Yet sometimes even ‘mighty thighs’ can’t help…

18. Another part of his body that deserves particular attention is his hair. This part would often take the most curious and capricious forms, from something rather classic and refined

to the cutting edge of fashion.

The shape of Shoma’s hair is often very informative with regard to when he woke up and on which side of his body he was sleeping.

(Waking up 5 minutes before your bus leaves is like…)

19. Apart from his interest in figure skating, Shoma is secretly training to participate in a new ballet production of Tchaikovsky’s ‘Swan Lake’. These rumors have not been confirmed by the skater himself so far.

20. A new entry has been added to the ‘Guinness World Records’: the figure skater Shoma Uno set new high standards in the sheer amount of kakkoiness and cuteness that he produces around him, when on and off the ice, when gaming or skating, when giving interviews or eating—in other words, all the time.

The quantity of cuteness thus produced by far surpasses the recommended dosage, which therefore causes many side effects in those who are trapped by photos and videos with Shoma Uno: these include lovesickness, mental breakdowns, and even a temporary paralysis (of will). An excessive dosage leads to a rather serious medical condition (‘Shomatitis’) characterized by an irresistible desire to watch Shoma’s programs over and over, learn Japanese language, read figure skating magazines, and even open new blogs in order to post about Shoma Uno.

Unfortunately, no cure has yet been found against this dangerous Shoma-virus, although some doctors work hard, trying to treat patients with Shoma’s pre-, post-, under-, and over-rotations, as well as his two-foot skating, crossovers, and dodgy landings. With the majority of patients, this treatment does not work and may even lead to further complications, such as the desire to watch competitions live. In these more complicated cases, watching Shoma Uno can be life-threatening, as it causes increased heart rate, heavy breathing, and watery eyes. 

The article was published originally in Russian here and then translated into Chinese.

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