Masako Ishida led Japanese ladies Cross-Country team and landed in top 10 seven times last winter with the season personal best in Nove Mesto and Oslo (5th place in 15 km Mass Start Classic and 30 km Mass Start Classic). The 31-year old Japanese skiers comes from Bihoro, on the Hokkaido and has moved for training to Jura in France this summer. FIS Cross-Country News talked with Masako, who is a big fan of Manga, about the last season and plans for the coming winter.
Q: Masako, how and why did you start with Cross-Country skiing?
Masako Ishida: I was born in the countryside. The elementary school I went to was so small there were only 60 pupils. It was very hard for our teacher, as he had to take care of all the subjects including sports. In the summer we had to run every morning for half an hour from 7:30 to 8:00. We did all kinds of sports, baseball, running, swimming etc.. In the winter we did Cross-Country skiing, alpine and even speed skating. Cross-Country skiing was hardest for us. After school, around 2.-3.p.m. we had to ski. So I did not have a choice and since I was 6 years old I have been a Cross-Country skier.
Q: What’s your summary of the last season? You are very good in classical technique. What makes you so strong?
M.I.: Last season was very good for me. I'm happy about 18th place in overall in the World Cup and I hope I can be even better next winter. There is no special reason for me being strong in classical technique. It’s natural for my body but I would not say I am particularly strong.
Q: How has been your summer training so far?
M.I.: Since the last summer my base has been actually in Jura, France. It’s very nice there and I like Jura very much. There are so many people roller skiing, biking and running, many more than in my hometown, and I get huge motivation from them for training.
The summer training has been good so far. I have been working on double poling and also on my free technique.
Q: How do you relax? What do you do besides skiing?
M.I.: Actually, Cross-Country skiing does not cause me any stress (smiling). But yes, I have to say that before the start I get stressed sometimes more, sometimes less. I relax after the race when I know I did my best. When I have a day off I like reading a book in the sunshine. I like reading very much.
Q: In your summer training, do you prefer roller skiing, running or mountain biking?
M.I.: I must say I prefer running. In the winter, the only chance to go running is on the roads, but in the summer I can run in the mountains, in the terrain. On the other hand, roller skiing is not that bad either. So at the end it’s hard to decide.
Q: If you could go for a swim anywhere in the world this summer, where would it be?
M.I.: Definitely Okinawa in Japan! You know, Japan is very long from the North to South covers a distance of more than 3000 km. Okinawa prefecture has tropical climate. I have not been there! So once in my life I should go there to se the beautiful coral and taste delicious tropical fruits.
Q: If some musician in your Ipod could come to live, who would it be?
M.I.: It’s hard to answer this questions because I’m not crazy about any singer or band.
Q: What is for you the best/worst about summer training?
M.I.: Walking and running in the mountains is the best for me, having nice views over the landscape and eating lunch in the mountains, that is great.
The worst is running with poles. I guess I’m not the only who doesn’t like this training but if you want to be faster, you just have to do it.
Q: What is your vision for next season?
M.I.: In the winter I would like to get to the podium and score some top 5 results. My performance last year was good but I want to make another step up. For sure World Championships will be the highlight and I will do my best to get on the podium in 30km Classic. Actually, there will be my second World Championships in Val di Fiemme. In 2003, when I was 22 I competed in 15 km classic and finished in 36th place. Ten years later, I think I have a chance for a better result. I also hope I will be in good shape at FIS Tour de Ski.