While Japan has its own baseball and soccer leagues, the steady improvements in ability by Japanese players have ironically led to a talent drain in domestic games, as the best players get recruited to compete on bigger stages in the U.S. and Europe. These days, what really gets Japanese sports fans fired up is international competitions like soccer’s World Cup and the Olympic Games.
With the Winter Olympics going on right now in Sochi, Japanese TV is filled with nonstop onsite reports from the Russian city. In the scramble to get as much content as possible, though, one news outlet sent out its reporter so woefully unaware that he didn’t recognize the two Olympic medalists standing right in front of him, one of whom he was having a conversation with.
Like in many countries, figure skating pulls in a lot of viewers in Japan, and with the recent strides the Japanese male skaters have been making, a trip to the podium isn’t out of the question.
As an almost completely ethnically homogenous country, Japan is always fascinated to hear what people from other countries have to say. So imagine you’re a correspondent sent to cover the festivities in Sochi. Your producer tells you to flag down some spectators and ask who they think will win the gold medal in men’s figure skating.
Just to make sure the language barrier doesn’t get in the way, you print out a sign, in slightly broken English, with the question “Who wins a gold medal?” (you also slightly stack the deck by making 60 percent of the possible choices Japanese skaters, because this is only supposed to be broadcast in Japan, where no one bats an eye at the media openly rooting for the home team).
As you scan the crowd, you spot a tall, athletic-looking, photogenic Caucasian man walking by. You stop him and ask for his prediction, which he gives. Afterwards, you even ask where he’s from, in order to add a little more international color to your report.
Sounds like a solid plan, right? Except for one small hitch. Some of you might have seen the guy being interviewed before. Here’s another picture of him, just to help jog your memory.
The man randomly picked by the reporter turned out to be none other than American Evan Lysacek. And he didn’t pick up that piece of hardware he’s holding in the photo above at the county fair, either. The photo of the beaming Lysacek was taken after his gold medal-winning performance at the Vancouver Olympics, as in, the most recent Winter Games. By the way, he won it for figure skating.
In the reporter’s defense, Lysacek isn’t competing at the Sochi Olympics, and injuries have kept him out of major competitions since reaching the sport’s pinnacle four years ago. Nonetheless, this is a bit like asking the pope if he has any plans for Christmas Eve.
▼ “Come on by! We’re getting a whole bucket of extra crispy !”
Adding even more irony is that the Los Angeles-based Lysacek trains at the Toyota Sports Center in Southern California, which is of course sponsored by Japan’s largest automaker.
But while the reporter’s got no one to blame but himself for failing to recognize the last winner of the gold medal, you have to feel a little bad at how his screw-up was preserved and then shared with the world on Twitter. Surely that’s something he couldn’t have seen coming, right? I mean, just who is the random person who snapped the photo?
Um, that would be Michelle Kwan. Three-time Olympiad, two-time Olympic medalist (once at the 1998 Games held in Japan), and five-time World Championship winner. For figure skating.
▼ Oh, that Michelle Kwan.
As reporters ourselves, we sympathize with the pressure, and inevitable screw-ups, that come with working under the tight deadlines of our modern, 24-hour news cycle. We’ll give the correspondent the benefit of the doubt, and assume it was an honest mistake due to it being his first feature on figure skating, which, we’re guessing, will also be his last.
Source: Hachima Kiko
Top image: Twitter
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