Japanese figure skating star Uno makes big leap(s) with help from U.S. coach

Alex Ouriashev (left) makes a point to Shoma Uno before a recent practice at the Glacier Ice Arena in Vernon Hills, IL  (Philip Hersh photo)

Alex Ouriashev (left) makes a point to Shoma Uno before a recent practice at the Glacier Ice Arena in Vernon Hills, IL  (Philip Hersh photo)

It was a perfect mid-August morning, sunny and dry with a temperature in the low 80s. On such a summer day, most people would do anything to get outdoors.

That is where field hockey player Itsuki Uno, 15, and his father, Hiroki, were going to be. They were headed for the golf course, just as they had almost every day during the Uno family's three-week stay in the Chicago suburbs.

Itsuki's older brother, Shoma, 19, would not be in the golfing party.

"I don't particularly like being outdoors," Uno said through an interpreter, with a sly grin that needed no translation.

Uno was perfectly happy spending his days in an environment that could best be described as anti-summer: the indoor ice sheets at rinks north and west of Chicago, where he was working with the man whose expertise as a jump coach had helped the skater make the podium at all nine of his competitions last season. Five of those were victories, and Uno leaped from seventh at the world championships in 2016 to the silver medal in 2017.

"I was surprised I improved so fast," Uno said.

So it was no surprise he had returned for more work with Alex Ouriashev at the Glacier Ice Arena in Vernon Hills. This, though, was no star turn: Uno shared the ice with skaters of distinctly lesser ability, including countryman Kotaro Takeuchi, 14th at last season's Japanese Junior Championships.

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