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Shooting for the Vancouver Olympics with a Rainbow-colored Smile

Ms. Nana Takeda

At the age of five, Ms. Nana Takeda watched the World Figure Skating Championships being broadcast on television. As she watched the competitors glide across the ice and perform spectacular jumps, she couldn't help but let out an impressed "Wow!" The next day she went to her local skating rink. "It was fun to glide over the ice on my skates, so I spent almost every day doing just that." As the days passed she became more skilled, naturally walking down the path of a young figure skater. In high school, she made her leap into the world of competitive skating by placing 1st in the Junior Grand Prix Series.

After entering Waseda University in 2007, she continued to pull off solid performances at competitive events and also placed 2nd at this season's Universiade, where she performed the role of flag-bearer at the opening ceremonies. "I felt a surge of anticipation, and managed to pull of a good performance when I went onto the ice," she said, looking back.

One very notable characteristic of Ms. Takeda is her smile; it's so dazzling that it almost shines. "I'm often asked if I put conscious effort into my smile, but it's just me smiling naturally," she said with a mischievous grin. She says that the best part of skating is the instant after a good performance when the audience showers her with applause. "The feeling that I accomplished something important completely fills me." But sometimes things don't go the way she would like them to go. "When I don't do well I go back and watch my old videos that were filmed when I just started skating and think to myself 'I've got to work harder!'" she said, sharing her secret on how she cheers herself up.

In the off-season during the spring quarter, Ms. Takeda's days are extremely busy. Not only does she devote herself to her studies with a course load of over thirty units, but she also practices skating nearly every morning, noon, and night. With respect to her college classes, she particularly enjoys classes with practical application. "In Professor Kanosue's class I plan to research the relationship between spinning and dizziness. I'm really looking forward to it. I noticed that after I execute a jump, if I land and take off in the direction I had spun, I don't get dizzy. On the other hand, if I take off in the opposite direction, I become dizzy," she said, her words revealing her nature as a competitor.

Ms. Takeda says she is often encouraged by college friends who come to cheer for her at competitions and send her email. She is also friends with Ms. Yuriko Takeshita (third year student in the School of Sport Sciences), who competed at the Olympics in the canoe slalom competition. "I had made a promise with everyone to have a takoyaki [octopus dumpling] party, but I'm just so busy that I can't find the time," she said, sounding more like a college student than an athlete.

So, what are Ms. Takeda's future plans? "I want to compete in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics!" she exclaimed, sporting the determined expression of an athlete.

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)

Ms. Takeda performing (c)CIC

Born in Tokyo on December 21, 1988 and graduated from Nihonbashi Jogakkan Senior High School. Entered Waseda University, School of Sport Sciences in 2007. Ms. Takeda began figure skating in 1993 and amassed strong performances at a variety of competitions. In 2007 she placed 3rd at the NHK Trophy, and in 2008 she placed 2nd at the Harbin 24th Winter Universiade. Her favorite foods are ice cream, chocolate, and salmon.