YOKOHAMA – Turin Olympic gold medalist Shizuka Arakawa said Sunday she will turn professional to perform in ice shows, leaving the hectic world of international competition behind her in favor of her true calling.Olympic figure skating champion Shizuka Arakawa smiles during the pressconference Sunday at a Yokohama hotel. GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5 “It will make me happy to skate in ice shows. I want to show people the greatness of skating. This is my dream,” Arakawa said at a news conference held at a Yokohama hotel.The 24-year-old Arakawa said she will not only perform in Japan but also in the United States, where many former Olympic and world champions appear in such ice shows as the Champions on Ice events.“By performing in ice shows, I would like to repay my debt of gratitude to the world of figure skating,” said Arakawa. “I’m glad that I can end my career feeling satisfied. I’m not leaving any regrets as I embark on a new road.”Arakawa became the third Japanese to win the world championship in 2004 and saved Japan from coming home empty-handed with her triumphant gold-winning performance in February at the Turin Games, where she became famous overnight for her trademark Inabauer maneuver.The Miyagi native started figure skating when she was five and was considered a child prodigy by the time she mastered a triple jump in her third year of elementary school.She won her national championship in the 1997-98 season when she finished 13th at the Nagano Games in her Olympic debut.After winning the gold in Turin, she sat out the world championships in Calgary, Alberta, in March citing her hectic schedule after the Turin Games and had also indicated that she planned to miss next season’s Grand Prix series.After winning the world title in 2004, Arakawa had planned to retire from competition but was persuaded by Japanese skating officials and people close to her to continue competing.Arakawa came ninth at the world championship the following year and determined to compete in the Winter Olympics for the first time in eight years as she did not want to end skating on a sour note.“I feel so excited, like an elementary school student starting first grade. I want to become the type of skater that can offer dreams and hopes to those skaters who have to cope with the bad conditions of rinks here in Japan,” Arakawa said.Her achievements as a competitive figure skater also included victories at the University Games and the Winter Asian Games — both in the 2002-03 season — and a runnerup finish in the Grand Prix Final the following winter.
- Sakata successfully defends title
- Nagai wins national Nordic title