She’s been dubbed “Cool Beauty” by the Japanese press. Her composure on the ice is equally stunning.
the Foreign Sportswriters Association of Japan, from Japan Times sports editor Jack Gallagher in
Tokyo on Thursday night.
YOSHIAKI MIURA PHOTO
Before an estimated worldwide TV audience of some 500 million last February and a nation holding its collective breath to her every move, figure skater Shizuka Arakawa was dazzling and focused — and don’t forget triumphant.
Arakawa captured the gold medal at the Turin Winter Olympics at the ripe old age of 24, becoming the oldest female to win the event since 1920.
She also became the first Asian woman to win an Olympic gold medal in the sport.
And her variation of the “Ina Bauer” move has now become a well-known phrase in Japan and mimicked by youngsters from Okinawa to Hokkaido.
The Foreign Sportswriters Association of Japan presented Arakawa with its 2006 top Japanese sports figure award.
The Tokyo-born, Sendai-raised beauty graciously accepted the honor at a Thursday dinner.
“Thank you very much for this wonderful award and thank you very much for inviting me tonight,” Arakawa said through a translator.
“I was able to make a great achievement at the Turin Olympics because of the great support of people and that was thanks to all of your coverage that you have done for me.”
Boston Red Sox hurler Daisuke Matsuzaka, the former Seibu Lions star who earned the 2006 World Baseball Classic MVP award, finished second in the voting. Japan and Urawa Reds defender Marcus Tulio Tanaka took third.
Arakawa, a 2004 world champion and only the third in Japan’s history (Yuka Sato in 1994 and Midori Ito in 1989 also accomplished the marvelous feat), has retired from amateur skating. But she still remains active in the sport after turning pro and joining the Champions On Ice Tour.
She also serves as a TV commentator and has started work as a model.
“I hope I can tell and show the charms of skating to as many people as possible in the future,” Arakawa said.