MIKU MAKITA AND TYLER GUNARA on their Youth Olympics experience and training during uncertain times

MIKU MAKITA AND TYLER GUNARA on their Youth Olympics experience and training during uncertain times

Miku Makita and Tyler Gunara are a junior ice dance team representing Canada.

The duo both competed in singles before making the switch to ice dance and partnering in 2016 and have gone on to compete at Junior Worlds and even the Youth Olympic Games.

We caught up with the Miku and Tyler after their 2nd place finish at Skate Canada Challenge, to talk about their Youth Olympics experience, program inspiration, and training during uncertain times.

All photos (incl. cover photo) courtesy of Danielle Earl Photography and Miku’s Instagram. 

In the 2019-2020 season, you had some of your best results and placements at competitions, what were your personal highlights?

Last season was great and being able to represent Canada never felt better. One of the best highlights of last season was coming eighth at Junior Worlds, going into it giving it with nothing to lose, we were very proud of the programs we were able to perform.

Favourite Program by another skater/team?

Stepanova/Bukin FD 2020 "Primavera/Cry me a river" (both)

You were selected to represent Canada at the Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne, Switzerland. What were your reactions when you found out? Can you talk about the atmosphere and any special memories from the event?

We found out we qualified at the Skate Canada Challenge Event, it was pretty unbelievable for the both of us and we are extremely thankful for the opportunity. From the moment we got to Lausanne the atmosphere was astonishing. There were always people cheering us on when we were walking around the city, and the audience at the rink was incredible. At the Athletes village, there was a cafe in the middle which was the perfect place to meet new people, make memories, socialize, and de-stress from the competition itself.

The Tea-Time Foxtrot was a new pattern for the Rhythm Dance. What was the experience like learning a newly created pattern? 

At the start, super confusing! We had no idea what we were doing, but we figured it out with the help of our coaches and the seminar by Natalia Kaliszek, Maksym Spodyriev and Sylwia Nowak-Trębacka (creators of the pattern) held in Detroit.

Favourite/Least favourite element?

I enjoy all elements, but my favourite would have to be the choreo step sequence!

My favorite elements would be the choreo step sequence and the one foot sequence

© Miku Makita | Instagram

We found out we qualified at the Skate Canada Challenge Event, it was pretty unbelievable for the both of us and we are extremely thankful for the opportunity. From the moment we got to Lausanne the atmosphere was astonishing.

Miku & Tyler

Your musicals themed Rhythm Dance was to Hairspray. How did you decide on the music?

We wanted to skate to something fun especially with the musical theme, and Hairspray seemed to be the perfect fit. We love how energetic and vibrant the music is, which also allowed us to add a lot of character to it too.

You performed your new Free Dance to ‘Love is Worth Fighting For’ at Skate Canada Challenge. What was the inspiration behind the program and what was the choreography process like? Have you decided if you’re keeping it for next season?

When we were able to get back onto the ice last season, we weren’t sure what the upcoming season was going to look like with how much time we had. So, we decided to change up our Free Dance, but not to a completely different style. We decided ‘Love is Worth Fighting For’ by Haley Reinhart who also sang our Free Dance program performed in the 2019-2020 season would be perfect, almost like an upgraded version 2!

We are hoping to change our program for the next season, to something completely different.

© Miku Makita | Instagram

Who are your skating idols?

Growing up I loved watching Ashley Wagner, Javier Fernández, and Tessa Virtue.

I really look up to Tessa, Scott, and Nathan Chen.

Skate Canada Challenge was of course held as a virtual competition. Where were you watching from and was it weird to find out your results from there and not straight after your performance?

Miku: I was doing homework at home while watching the event, and Tyler watched from his couch. We were both texting each other as the event was going on. It was actually pretty funny, we both got super nervous and started sweating while watching ourselves and waiting for the results, even though we knew how we skated. So yes! Definitely a new experience and a bit bizarre. 

With Junior Worlds and Nationals cancelled, have you started to prepare for the new season at all? Are you excited to do a new pattern after two seasons of the same one?

Yes! We have been playing around with new elements, improving our basics, and learning new dances. Although we really enjoyed the Tea-time foxtrot, we are looking forward to doing a new dance again!

What are your daily training days like? Do you practice the rhythm or free on the same day? Or just focus on one program at a time?

We regularly wake up at around 4:45, go on the ice at 6:15,  and train for 3-4 hours, depending on the day. We train both programs, typically switching which program we start with first. 

Favourite/Least favourite school subjects?

I love biology and chemistry, english and social studies —​not so much.

I despise anything with Calculus… let’s just leave it at that.

How much of your normal training day has changed with your local government rules? Can you talk about what some of them are?

On the ice, we are still able to skate together which we are super grateful for, the only big difference would be that we aren’t allowed to skate with other people, so learning new choreography with our coaches can be challenging at times. Off the ice, we aren’t able to do dance classes in-person, so we are doing them over Zoom.

Favourite game or sport to watch and play?

Of course I enjoy watching all disciplines of figure skating. I have also recently enjoyed watching hockey.

I like playing badminton as a bit of cross training on the weekends and enjoy watching Formula 1 when their season is on.

What was your introduction to ice dance and how did you first partner up?

We had already been skating alone and one day Megan (Wing) and Aaron (Lowe) decided to partner us up for a day and it turned out decent and from there on the rest is history.

On the ice, we are still able to skate together which we are super grateful for, the only big difference would be that we aren’t allowed to skate with other people, so learning new choreography with our coaches can be challenging at times.

Miku & Tyler

You’re both also going to school/university. How do you balance your schedules, especially previously during international events? 

Typically without the current situation of the world we would go to school around 10am, however now it is a little different that schooling has been online for post secondary schools and a limited amount of in class schooling for highschools in BC. With international events we feel being organized is the key. We try to complete everything necessary before we leave for competition, so we can focus on the competition and not other homework and studying while travelling abroad.

3 Facts people might not know about you?

  • I hate scary movies
  • I’m much more of a morning person
  • I play piano.
  • I love gummy bears
  • PhD in educational procrastination
  • Bubble Tea connoisseur
 
 

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