by Francesca | Photos by Robin Ritoss

Thank you to all the #TeamKoKo fans who submitted questions for Misato Komatsubara & Tim Koleto. Special thanks to Misato & Tim for taking the time to chat with us and also for helping with the question translations. 

I love to pay attention to the makeup of the girls in the ice dance. What is Misato-chan taking care of for her hair & make-up? Please let me know if you have any favorite items. What kind of makeup do you have while you are training or off?

Misato: I love makeup products and putting makeup on myself. For competitions, I like it really strong to be seen by the judges. Because I trained in Italy, I also learned European style of make-up. In Japan, we try to be cute, but on the ice I want to be a mature, sexy, strong woman, so I do strong eyebrows, eyeliner, I change eyeshadows. I love using NYX cosmetics: if I use enough cheap cosmetics usually it goes away when I skate but NYX is affordable and it stays on. For training, I know other skaters don’t wear make-up, but I like it.  I feel better and I practice well. Especially before runthroughs, I put the lipstick on before to motivate myself.


NHK Trophy is next month! Misato-san, do you have Japanese food you want to eat after a long absence? What is Tim’s favorite Japanese dish?

Misato: My favorite food is my mom’s miso soup. Everyone has their own soup recipe in Japan.

Tim: I like karaage which is basically fried chicken, and there’s also a special soup called Zouni that is different in each family.  Misato’s father’s is my favorite so every time we’re home I ask him to make it. The main ingredients are rice cake, meat, carrots, radish.  It’s a new years dish.

 
I heard in the commentary that your exhibition program at Dreams On Ice “Your name” is self-choreographed. Why did you choose “Theme of Mitsuha” and “Sparkle” for the music? Please tell me what is your favorite choreography?

Tim: Worlds are in Japan this year, so we wanted to do something Japanese for ourselves and for our fans. This movie has beautiful music and really good visual art, one of our fans gave us the album soundtrack. We had the quirky exhibition last year made by Christopher Dean, so this year we wanted to go more lyrical to mix it up.

Misato: We created many elements that are illegal to do in competition.  We also added a lot of parallel skating because the movie is about a boy and girl living in parallel worlds, they never get to meet, but they leave notes to each other.


Komatsubara-san, Koleto-san, I think the natural direction of the rotation of you two is opposite. What do you think good points and strengths by having opposite directions ? Also, would you please tell me if you have any difficult points and efforts? 

Misato: The first season doing the rotational lift on the opposite side was really difficult. I got so confused every time we exited. Spin is really difficult to find the balance between us too.

Tim: For the twizzles, we have to put more effort when it’s not our side but for the whole program we can turn in different ways so the program can be more balanced. It took a few years to figure out the spin. It’s still a work in progress.


What do you think is strange in each other’s country?

Tim: It took me a while to get used to the futon mattress.

Misato: Everything is huge in the US, the supermarkets, I was really shocked how broad the views are, in Japan you always see buildings everywhere.


What song would you like to skate next?

Misato: I would like to use something catchy with clear characters.

Tim: We’re excited for the rhythm dance theme next year (Broadway, Musical, Operetta). We want to do something more fun and up-tempo. Every year our goal is to do something that people didn’t skate before, but next year we would love to do something really popular, where we can step into roles that exist already and put our twist on it.


What are your favorite elements?

Misato: Twizzles because it’s exciting to do and watch. I like sliding movement too.

Tim: This year I like to do the choreo step, which I thought was a great addition to the programs. The sliding movement also. They are both really fun to perform because you can let go for a few moments and get lost in the music.

 
Please talk about the attractiveness of the ice dance from the skater side/the public side. What are the important points when you did try out? Do you have any songs or creations you would like to use in the program in the future? What are the highlights of this year’s RD/FD? Please tell me your favorite pattern dance.

Misato: As a skater, in ice dance compared to singles I can show more meanings and feelings or the theme of a program.

Tim: I really like the Finnstep, it has lots of positions and things that you don’t normally find in a pattern, it’s busy and interesting. I also never completed the Polka so I would like to try it.

Misato: For me Tango Romantica, I used to watch the teams performing it at the Olympic Games, it was always the one I wanted to do and finally this year arrived. It’s hard but it’s interesting, lots of holds and changes of position. At “Dreams on Ice” in Japan, Tessa and I were talking about which is our favorite pattern and it’s the Tango Romantica for both of us.  We were lucky Tessa and Scott gave us a little private lesson during one of the practices there.


What kind of coach is Rie Arikawa? Please introduce us the things you think are great. Also, please tell me If you have something you want to tell the world about what you love about Okayama and your home country!

Misato: I know Rie since I started skating 9 years old. She started to coach when she was 20. So we kind of grew up together. Now, she treats me as an adult. We talk about the future of Japanese ice dance a lot. I feel very supported, she really cares about us. She trained in Lyon so she has a mix of a Japanese mindset with other influences. She has open mindset, which I really appreciate.

About Okayama, It’s kind of the countryside in Japan, so we have lot of nature there, but Okayama is becoming more popular recently. It’s getting more fashionable, Jeans, a lot of restaurants, Bizen-yaki etc. We have 2 all-season ice rinks and lot of great skaters like Daisuke and Keiji. It’s a great mix of classic and new. And the people there are warm too!

Tim: Rie is always there for us when we come back to Japan. She respects the other coaches while giving us a lot of information and advice. She also continues to find space in the rink for us. She’s the reason why I’ll be able to get my citizenship because we will have coaching and ice in Japan. We don’t know what we’d do without her.

Misato-chan Do you have a favorite penguin character? I like the Pen-chan from Nekopen Biyori. Does Tim have a favorite character?

Misato: I like penguins and the character called Koupen-chan. At the last NHK I was wearing penguin socks so everyone knows about it. So, skating fans sometimes give me presents with the penguin on them. I use the pens every day for our training journal.

Tim: I really like the character called Ippei-kun, he’s a famous mascot for a soccer team. He looks like a big frog, and he’s all over Japan. He even wrote me on twitter once!


And what are your favorite flowers?

Misato: In Japan we have a rose called “Chant Rose Misato”.


What are the strengths of Team Koko?

Tim: I think authenticity is a big strength of our skating, we also have a good balance of strong and soft movements, so I hope in the future seasons we have more chance to explore sharper lines and themes.


Misato’s dark color dress is impressive, but what kind of perspective do you take when you make a costume?
Misato: I had some negative reactions to my costume by the judges in the first part of the season. So I’m actually going to change it to avoid violations. The judges thought it was too much nudity even though from our perspective it was nude-colored fabric. I chose the costume based on my window shopping on the internet/Pinterest/Instagram/Tumblr and I sent many pictures to Marie. I wanted a dark costume because I heard some spookiness from this RD music so I wanted something strange and cold.

 
What are your favorite activities and places to go in Montreal? Misato: Looking for street art as we said earlier, and also going to coffee shops.

Tim: I really like the Old Port, as we lived in Europe before it reminds me of that. We also went to the Olympic Park and to the Biodome. My favorite café is the Crew Collective, it’s in an old bank building, and it’s great for writing. On our partnership anniversary we also went to the Doggy Café.


What is something that helps you guys focus before a performance?

Misato: We always do one or two rounds when one of us is skating forward and the other one backwards, while holding hands. For practice, we decide to set every day a small goal. For the competition, we say thank you and feel lucky for what we can show.

Tim: Before competition backstage sometimes you get this feeling of being closed in, and when they open the curtains you see light and people in the stands and there’s all this energy. I have a special playlist that helps me focus with funny music, pump up music and throwbacks. It reminds me of my core self and not to be distracted by the spectacle of competition.


Who are your top three drag race winners?

Aquaria, Sasha Velour because of the iconic lip-sync moment, and Bob the Drag Queen. We recently went to see a live tour of the drag show, and it was really fun. With all the costumes, the make-up and the performances, and the drama, it’s really not so different from Figure SKating.


Timkoleto-kun likes Makoto Shinkai Makoto and Haruki Murakami, but do you have any other Japanese works you like?

Tim: I really enjoyed the book “1Q84” from Haruki Murakami, it was a really interesting novel. In the future I’d like to read more Japanese, so please recommend us some good books!

 

Team Gadbois has lots of talented skaters, and THE COACHES!! Tell us about Ginette Cournoyer & Catherine Pinard! How do their works help you?

We worked with Gigi, our ballroom coach, the whole year. She used to work with Patch and Marie, so it’s nice to work with a ballroom instructor who understands figure skating so deeply, because we don’t have to do much to make the corrections work on the ice. She also invited us to see a ballroom competition here in Montréal, it was fun. In Japan we’re going to start ballroom off the ice.


I think Misato was vegan, but do you have any particular points about nutrition management?

Misato: I tried to be vegan 3 years ago, but I didn’t know much about nutrition, so I got dizzy all the time and I had to stop. Lately I’ve been taking vitamin supplements since I got advice from Marie and I feel much better even when we train hard.


I like the competition programs, but also I am looking forward to see your Ex’s “Kimi No Na Wa” in the NHK Cup. Please introduce the image of the song and how did you make the costume! And @Timkoleto-kun Do you like Radwimps songs?

Tim: For the costumes, I took a screenshot of the movie and sent it to our costume designer Mathieu Caron. There are many shots of the sky and the meteor with pink, purple, blue, it was really striking. I asked him to print it on fabric, we first planned to do it only on my shirt but we liked it so much that we did it on Misato’s dress too.


What else would you like to skate from a Japan artist?

Misato: Her name is Ringo Sheena, I like her craziness and she plays all types music. She’s like a Japanese version of Bjork.


Tim, how has becoming a muscle daddy helped your confidence with ice dance elements?

Tim: In the second half of the program I just think about my selfies and they give me strength.


Misato, what is one of your favorite vegan dishes to help with fitness, or in general?

Misato: Lately I feel like mushrooms are meat, they have the same texture and flavor. I like them in a salad or with rice.


Did the news that Muramoto/Reed were ending their partnership make you feel more pressure to be Japan’s #1 team this season?

Tim: We received lots of messages when the news came out saying “please don’t feel too much pressure”, and things of that nature. It was very kind but also surprising. We love them both as people and we were very sad to hear they broke up, but we don’t feel additional pressure from having the chance to compete at the highest level that we worked for our whole lives. There is definitely pressure in representing your country, but it’s no different than what we’ve already been doing. In a way I feel less pressure because I can show my family that I’m succeeding in what we are investing. I feel some relief that I can give back.

Misato: We felt more pressure when we could not compete internationally and had to wait, and we couldn’t show what we were working on.


What do you think fans can do for younger ice dancers in Japan and how can we help for the future of the discipline?

Tim: There needs to be ice time for dancers, and we are happy to do our part to help that situation when we spend more time in Japan. I hope this will create more opportunity for younger skaters.

Misato: I would like to ask fans, if we have the ice dance competition on the same day as singles, please stay and watch and support the ice dancers. That makes the media have more attention, and then if they’re going to show ice dancers on TV. That’s going to help having more skaters trying ice dance, interest, and ice time. And share it with anybody who hasn’t seen it before.

Tim: Last time we were in Japan we spent some time with Rie. She has some small boys who want to do ice dance and I made a point to go to talk to them before we left. I just wanted to give them one-on-one advice, and one of the things I told him was to go on YouTube and watch the top 10 at Worlds because it’s important that they see what ice dance is supposed to look like at its best, to really understand what it’s about. I’m looking at our time in Japan as an opportunity to generate more interest in ice dancing. In our generation as Japanese dancers I hope we can do our part.