Yukari Nakano is a Japanese figure skater, born in Konan city of Aichi prefecture on August 25, 1985. She is the second Japanese woman who landed a triple Axel.
Yukari Nakano began figure skating at the age of six. Machiko Yamada coached her at the Grand Prix Tokai Figure Skating Club in Nagoya.
Since Yamada had coached Midori Ito, the 1989 world champion and the 1992 Olympic silver medalist, Yukari had a chance to see Midori's jumps in the childhood. Yukari was so young that she couldn't understand what they were. Actually, as her elder sister told her then, they were triple Axels.
When Yukari was a junior high school student, she began to practice triple Axel jumps, but fears of injuries made her interrupt trying them for a couple of years.
In 2002 she restarted the training, and she successfully landed it in a local competition. At Skate America in that year she landed it again together with a Russian figure skater, Liudmila Nelidina. It was for the first time in a decade since Midori Ito landed the jump at the 1992 Winter Olympic Games.
Back to Basics
In 2004 Yukari was admitted into Waseda University. Away from home, she moved to Yokohama.
Nobuo Sato became her new coach. Sato and his wife, Kumiko, are both pioneers in Japanese figure skating and also known as parents of Yuka Sato, the 1994 world champion.
Yukari has two problems. One is a habit called "wrapped leg" on her lutz and flip jumps. She wraps her left leg around her right leg when she spins in the air. The other is underrotation. Even if she tries a triple Axel, her jump is often regarded as underrotated one and downgraded by judges.
According to the coach's advice, Yukari began to practice skating from back to basics in order to improve her own skating skills. She trained very hard because she wanted to get rid of her habit, to jump triple Axel clearly, and to skate more expressively.
However, it was difficult to clear her problems soon. She got into a big slump. In that season she even inclined to turn to pair skating. Actually, her tryout with an American skater was very successful, but she still hesitated to give up her career as a single skater.
Rising "Cinderella Girl"
Yukari's efforts bore fruit. On an ice show in June 2005, she surprised audience with her new exhibition program, Amazing Grace. They were fascinated with her fluent Ina Bauer, beautiful spiral and fast doughnut spin. It was choreographed by Kumiko Sato originally so as to practice compulsory program. Her diligent practice for better skating improved her reputation.
Although she still faces the challenges of wrapped leg and underrotation, she began to meet with good results at the ISU Grand Prix series. In this season she placed the third at Skate Canada, the first at NHK Trophy, and the third at the Grand Prix Final.
This rise got a lot of media attention to Yukari Nakano. Since the media had been concerned only about teenage idol skaters like Miki Ando and Mao Asada, they didn't know well about Yukari and her performance. Consequently the mass media began to call her "Cinderella Girl", while some seasoned figure skating fans felt it strange.
Yukari couldn't participate in the Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy. But she got the second at the Four Continents Championships in Colorado Springs, United States, and then the fifth at her first World Championships in Calgary, Canada.
Toward Next Season
Now she's preparing for the next season. Her next target is the World Championships in Tokyo, Japan.