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Gurimu Narita's “Very, Very Aggressive Run” and PyeongChang Gold / Full Talk Show (Part 3)

Narita on the moment of getting the gold

Kawano: I am sure dealing with snow tanning was troublesome. Ms. Tanaka, shall we now ask about their events?

Tanaka: The closing ceremony finished and you returned just yesterday. It has been one day. I'd like to ask once more about your feelings on completing the PyeongChang Paralympic Games.

I'll start with Mr. Narita. You said, "Everything is a new challenge because this is my first Paralympic Games." You raced very, very aggressively in the Banked Slalom event, and got the gold with a tight run that blew everyone away. How did you feel the moment you finished the race?

Narita: At the moment I finished the race, I still had to wait until everyone finished theirs to know if I won, so I was not able to pump my fist just yet.

But when everyone finished their runs and I was still in the top spot, it was simply the greatest feeling.

Tanaka: Indeed. When you finished your run, did you feel like you finished a little faster than usual? Or did you have some doubt?

Narita: My focus was on the fifth turn. The fifth turn was a bizarre turn with a different rhythm than the other turns, and I thought it might make a huge difference, even up to a second.

On my third run, all of my challenge points were successful, so I thought my time might be fast, too.

Tanaka: To get a fast time, did you have a strategy regarding what to be careful of?

Narita: This is about technique, but the fifth turn was almost like a U-turn...

Tanaka: A large...?

Narita: A large turn. Where normally you would turn in a U shape, I went for a V shape, although it involved risk.

Tanaka: A V shape. Was it to minimize the distance of your path?

Narita: Yes.

A 60% chance of stumbling

Narita: By going in a straight line, if I succeeded, the momentum and energy would be enormous.

Tanaka: What did you think the probability was?

Narita: I think there was probably a 60% chance of stumbling.

Tanaka: That is pretty high.

Narita: Yes.

Tanaka: So that is the so-called "aggressive" run, or to be aggressive, that athletes talk about.

Narita: Yes. My goal for PyeongChang was to "always be the challenger."

Tanaka: It was a very, very aggressive run. A splendid run. Thank you.

Narita: Thank you.

Kawano: As you were skiing, I think you were saying "crunchy." Were you saying the snow was crunchy? In the video of the event.

Narita: You mean me talking?

Kawano: Yes, so that was...?

Narita: I think I was saying something like, the snow is terrible, or the snow is disturbed.

"I talk out loud when I race."

Narita: When I am in full competition mode, I often talk out loud while racing.

Kawano: You talk out loud? (laughs)

(The audience laughs)

Kawano: What do you talk about? You are just talking to yourself, right? (laughs)

Narita: I talk about what I want to be aware of (during the race). I think in the (Snowboard) Cross, during the third run the gate was broken and the snow was not in a typical condition.

Instead of focusing on the line of the run, I thought it would be best to focus on the snow condition. I was sure I would stumble on one of the runs. I stumbled in the semifinals, so I thought the key to winning was to not stumble.

I looked at the snow and confirmed the condition, telling myself, "You pick your line, that is your goal right now." So I think I was saying out loud, "This area is terrible," or, "This area is good."

Kawano: You can see it?

Narita: Yes. We are going very fast, but I kept talking to myself and confirming things with both mind and ears.

Tanaka: If you wear a microphone during competitions, I think the commentators would find it very helpful.

Kawano: Indeed, that is true. I'll try it myself whenever I try snowboarding next time.

Narita: Yes, please do.

Kawano: Thank you.

Morii's true efforts

Kawano: Now I have a few questions for Mr. Morii. This was your fifth Paralympic Games. After the Games you were already talking about "aiming for Beijing" and "moving forward," just as you were saying a moment ago.

First, what were the PyeongChang Paralympics for you?

Taiki Morii (hereinafter, Morii): Just as Mr. Narita was saying, it was all about taking on new challenges. Since the Sochi Paralympics, I have made a lot of efforts, whether in changing my environment or changing equipment parts.

In that sense, each race was really fun for me. Not because I got the results, but because I took on these challenges and am now able to say I have no regrets. That was satisfying for me.

Kawano: Taking on new challenges can be scary. Did you have any worries at first?

Morii: Well, yes, I would be lying if I say I didn't. In my case, I was the overall World Cup individual winner last year and the year before last, so I think many people would tell me I should keep using the same sit-ski.

But if I did that, I would be the same me, without any progress. With Paralympic sports, the evolution of equipment can lead to improvements in techniques and skills.

As our skills improve, I think we can make people who are watching think, "Wow, that's awesome, that's cool." We cannot move forward without improving our equipment. Also, I don't think I would be able to defeat fast athletes and athletes with momentum from other countries. I was able to keep taking on new challenges without giving up.

Kawano: Thank you. I think the performances of younger athletes attracted attention at the Games. Do you keenly feel pressure from younger non-Japanese athletes?

Morii: I wouldn't use the word keenly. It's more like they are huge fireworks erupting in front of your face. Watching their runs, I was impressed that they go so fast in certain places. It is true that they are full of momentum. I thought they would be lacking in technique, but they are gaining technique as well.

In that sense, I think the Japan team will have to make changes in every aspect when preparing for the next Paralympic Games.

Kawano: I see.

"Changing the way I race"

Kawano: In a past article, Ms. Muraoka talked about how she learned from watching you and other athletes ski. Do you intend to look at other athletes' styles and incorporate different techniques in preparation of the next Games four years hence?

Morii: Yes, of course, I will be doing that. But I won't just copy someone else's style.

Naturally, when copying someone else's skiing style, you have to make it your own.

Kawano: To be original.

Morii: You cannot win otherwise. You might be able to catch up, but to become better than the person you are copying you need uniqueness. You have to change up the direction and develop your own strengths.

Kawano: Thank you.

Tanaka: And will you be aiming for a gold medal?

Morii: Yes. And maybe one silver just to keep the buzz going. There are five events, so I hope for a gold in at least one of them.

Tanaka: That is a wonderful goal. I am looking forward to it.

Kawano: Thank you.

(Applause from the audience)

(Republished from Logmi)

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