Claiming the World title for the second time should have been a glorious moment in Miki Ando’s storied career. But given the events that transpired in Japan one month prior to the World Championships, there was more on Ando’s mind in Moscow than winning the gold medal.
“Actually, I do not think about winning the Championships for the second time,” the 23-year-old said. “I think because of what happened in Japan, when I was skating I was always thinking of my country and I hoped to make people smile.”
The post-Olympic season is one Ando said she will remember for a long time. After winning both of her Grand Prix assignments, Cup of China and Rostelecom Cup in Russia, Ando fell to fifth at the Grand Prix Final.
But she rebounded, and three weeks later captured her third national title. In early February Ando skated to gold in Taipei City, winning her first Four Continents crown.
“Last season was really good for me because I really enjoyed what I was doing and I was happy with how I skated,” she said. “I never felt like that before. After the Olympics I told myself, ‘OK, I don’t have to be nervous anymore because the big year was finished.’ I think it was the best year ever for me and I am just really happy about the season.”
Following Worlds Ando remained in Russia to perform in a charitable event to benefit Japan. “They put together a show and prayed for Japan,” Ando said. “I had a chance to skate with some top skaters from Worlds and some of Russia’s top skaters. I was really happy to share that with them.”
She then headed to Canada to perform in two Stars on Ice shows in Victoria and Vancouver, B.C. “I found out about this opportunity after I won Worlds,” Ando said. “I think it was very important for me to go to Canada and show my skating.
“It was really good for me because I had a fond memory from skating at the Olympics in Vancouver and I am really glad that I had the chance to skate in that show with some really great skaters.
“I am a fan of Kurt Browning and I was excited to see his new number. I was really glad to have the opportunity to skate with Tessa (Virtue) and Scott (Moir) and Evan (Lysacek) and the other really fantastic skaters.”
Ando is scheduled to perform in a number of shows in Japan this summer and said she will likely not take a vacation until sometime in July.
Asked whether she intends to compete next season, Ando said she was undecided. “I do not know what I will do in the future. I have to talk to my coach, Nikolai Morozov.”
When asked her reaction to the worldwide skating family rallying in support of Japan, Ando said it was humbling. “I had the idea to do a charity show in Japan, but I had no idea that other skaters from other countries would try to help my country,” she said. “I was very surprised that so many people care so much.”
Ando said her mother was in Moscow when the earthquake hit and the rest of her family is fine. “They were watching me on TV all the time at Worlds and were happy for me,” she said.
“So many people sent messages to me and to Japan. I think it has really helped Japan. I really want to thank all of you so much.”
Originally published in August 2011