June 07, 2021
Hometown: Burlington, Ontario, Canada
Fun Fact: “I am absolutely terrified of any and all bugs, and have been known to suddenly run off in order to get away from clouds of gnats.”
Spirit Animal: Dolphin - “for their intelligence and friendliness”
Keiko’s journey in skating began at the age of 5 and piloted her to competing at Junior Nationals, Senior Challenge, and she was even featured in RBC’s 2014 Olympic commercial!
“It was so surreal to see myself on TV throughout the Olympics, especially during the figure skating events.”
In addition to being a Skate Ontario judge, Keiko is still a current team member and (believably, longest tenuring) captain of the University of Toronto Varsity Blues Figure Skating Team, who most recently won their 5th consecutive OUA title in 2020.
“Varsity allowed me to rediscover my love for figure skating and helped bring joy back into training sessions and competitions. Through the team, I have also made lifelong friendships with so many amazing people, as well as memories that I will cherish forever.”
Outside of skating Keiko loves to cook. She also learned to sew this past year and enjoys figuring out how to make clothes and accessories. One day she also hopes to visit Australia.
“As a huge animal lover I have always wanted to explore the wildlife there. The country itself also looks so beautiful and I can't wait to experience it someday!”
Q: Who is someone (outside of skating) that inspires or motivates you?
Malala Yousafzai – “From a young age she has been an advocate for providing education to girls and has bravely risked her life to draw attention to this issue. She is proof that you can contribute towards making the world a better place no matter your age or circumstances.”
Q: Who was your skating ‘role-model’ when you were younger?
“Growing up, I looked up to Joannie Rochette and Mao Asada. I always admired Mao’s artistry and how she pushed the technical difficulty of women’s skating. Joannie’s strength as a competitor was also so inspiring, and I have continued to look up to her as a role model while she pursues a career in medicine.”
Q: What is your favourite element in skating? Least favourite?
“I love to jump, but specifically loops! I am not a fan of spinning but had a spin coach that made our lessons super fun and motivational. Also, learning more about the scoring system and the huge impact of spin levels and GOE provided further motivation.”
Q: What is your favourite type of off-ice training?
“I love Barre classes. They are such a good workout, and the exercises combine many elements of dance that are complimentary to skating.”
Q: Do you have any pre-competition rituals or superstitions?
“I always tell myself out loud to breathe, calm down, relax, and have fun as I’m going to my starting position. I also always wrap my skates in an excessive amount of tape. While in my starting position, I am telling myself to relax, enjoy myself, and take my time.”
“From a young age coaches taught me to visualize my programs while listening to the music before competing. Towards the end of my career, I also started to see a sports psychologist who taught me other breathing exercises and visualization techniques to do regularly to help combat competition nerves. I still suffer from nerves but have definitely learned how to manage them better and channel them into more positive energy while competing.”
Q: Did you ever endure any type of setback/adversity/injury/etc throughout your career? How did you overcome it?
“When I was 14, I developed an eating disorder and suffered from both anorexia and bulimia nervosa. I had just started training at a large, international training center and began to be more aware of how my nutrition and workouts would impact my skating. Over time, I lost a lot of weight and muscle mass, and developed an unhealthy relationship with food, which greatly impeded my progress as a skater and prevented me from achieving my goals. I was lucky to have very supportive coaches and family and worked with a dietician who helped me see food as fuel as opposed to the enemy. I also rediscovered my love for cooking and learned to create delicious, nutritious meals that helped me get stronger.”
Q: Have you learned any life lessons from skating?
“Skating taught me the value of perseverance and time management. Through the many ups and downs of training and competition I learned to persevere and work hard in order to achieve my goals. Furthermore, balancing my training schedule and academic pursuits forced me to develop strong time management skills which have only helped me throughout my post-secondary schooling.”
Keiko recently completed her undergraduate degree in Nutritional Sciences and Global Health at the University of Toronto where she is currently continuing her studies in Epidemiology via a Masters of Public Health program. She is pursuing research in the field of global health and nutrition and hopes to continue her pursuit in research while working as a physician.
Lastly, what is your definition of having a #ChampionshipMindset?
“To me, having a championship mindset means that you don’t give up and you help build up those around you. It is so much easier to give up and stop trying vs. keep grinding towards your goals, and I think the ability to persevere is what makes someone a champion. I also believe being a true champion means that on your way to success you support those around you as opposed to bringing them down.”