By Anna Zetterberg
Assistant Managing Editor
At 20 years old, Biba Sakurai is an Olympic short-track speed-skater representing Japan. But Sakurai’s age isn’t the only connection she has with students of Palm Beach Atlantic University. She is also the sister of PBA student Toma Sakurai.
“I did not feel like she was in the Olympics until I watched her on TV,” Toma said. “When I saw her name and the game, it really hit me that she is an Olympian and the Olympics are only held every four years.”
Biba Sakurai has been skating since first grade. At 5 years old, she began figure skating but changed her focus to short-track skating after being scouted by a coach. She gave it a try and fell in love with the adrenaline-filled, fast-paced sport.
“In short-track speed skating, people never can predict what’s going to happen,” Biba said. “Some athletes can slip, some of them can get disqualified. So no one knows who’s going to win.”
For the past two years, she has been vigorously training in the Japan Olympic Centre. A typical day included three hours of training before lunch and three hours before dinner. On days when her performance was unsatisfactory, she spent over six hours training.
Biba has two coaches: one from Japan who has been coaching her for five years, and the other from Korea who has been coaching her for three years.
The intensity of her preparation paid off. Biba earned herself a competitive spot in the Olympics for the first time.
The moment before a race begins is an experience of which most people only dream. Though Biba was “panicked and very nervous” her first time on the ice, those nerves simmered down Feb. 17 after praying with her brother Toma.
“When I called her, she was in the Olympic stadium where the games are going on, and we prayed,” Toma said. “She told me, ‘I am not nervous because I can see that God is supporting me.’”
Biba’s dedication, drive, faith in the midst of rigorous training and non-stop schedule is making her family, the country of Japan and Palm Beach Atlantic University proud.
“This is an amazing experience and I believe that God is helping me a lot,” Biba said. “This is an experience that not everyone can experience so I will do my best.”
• Shaun White saved his best for last. For his final move of his last run in the Vancouver Olympics, White landed a Double McTwist 1260.
His signature move is an intense collaboration of twisting, flipping and turning which must be seen to be understood.
White has stood-out as a world-class athlete since he first stepped on the scene in 2006. Adding a new, complicated move to the roster was not necessary for White to bring home gold in the Halfpipe Final, but it showcased his incomparable skill and passion for the sport (as if soaring an extra five feet above the rest in the halfpipe was not enough.)
• American down-hill skier Bode Miller never ceases to catch the attention of media and ski fans at the Winter Olympics.
Known for his unconventional style and who-cares recklessness, Miller earned three medals this year, the most for any male athlete so far.
After a rockstar slalom run, Miller was launched from seventh place to first, finally winning the gold medal that had eluded him in the past two Olympics.