Sunday, December 19, 2010

12 Days of Christmas: Day 6: Yuka Sato's "Hat Full of Stars" by Nikki Holland

Yuka Sato is a "skater's skater." That means that other skaters look up to her and admire her quality of skating because she has it all. Yuka has always been known for her deep, soft edges, her flowing lines, her fast footwork and spins, and smooth jumps. A perfect example is the exquisite opening double axel jump at the start of the program. Divine! Look at that deep, flowing edge that she holds!!!

Yuka, the 2-time Japanese National Champion and the 1994 World Champion, still skates professionally, gracing us with her presence in the Stars on Ice Tour. I've seen her skate in that show many times and each time it feels like an honor to see her skate. In person you can really appreciate her deep, soft edges and first-rate skating qualities. She really stands out and is an absolute delight to watch!

In addition to being an accomplished amateur and professional skater, Yuka is also a pairs skater with her husband, Jason Dungjen, a former 2-time U.S. National pairs champion and 2-time Olympian with Kyko Ina in the mid-to-late 1990s. I haven't seen them perform together lately, but for several years Yuka and Jason performed together in shows and they were great!

With Jason, Yuka is also a coach. They are proving themselves to be quite the coaching tandem at that! They coached Jeremy Abbott to his second-consecutive National title in January, with what I believe to be, arguably one of the best national championships performances in history. (If that doesn't make a highlight video, I don't know what will!) They just coached Alissa Czisny to the Grand Prix Final victory two weeks ago. Yuka also choreographs for up-in-coming Japanese skater Takahiko Kozuka, who is coached by Yuka's father, Nabuo Sato.

Incidentally, Yuka's father, now a legendary coach, was a competitor at the 1960 Olympic Games, and her mother, Kumiko, was a competitor at the 1964 and '68 Olympics. Talk about excellent skating genes!!

At the 1998 World Professional Championships, Yuka skated this enchanting program to "Hat Full of Stars by Nikki Holland." Yuka is everything a skater should be, and so is this performance. As one viewer on You Tube commented about this performance, it is "A Timeless Vision." Another viewer commented: "I love Yuka Sato. I can watch her over and over again. Call me a purist, but that is the kind of skating that I like: gentle, effortless, flowing, with power and athleticism and speed in one, perfect package!"

Thank you, Yuka, for this quintessential skating program that will continue to enchant viewers for ages. You are indeed a "timeless vision." Happy 6th day of Christmas!

"Hat Full of Stars":

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