The Fred Yamamoto Scholarship Fund

A friend of mine, Steven Lee, who is a Palo Alto resident and involved in city government is helping to raise a scholarship fund in memory of Fred Yamamoto and provided a prepared statement:

“As a 3rd generation Chinese-American and a Palo Alto Human Relations Commissioner, I was strongly in favor of the committee’s recommendation to name a school after Fred Yamamoto, and was disappointed by both the opposition raised by certain members of my Chinese-American community as well as the decision by the school board not to name a school after Fred Yamamoto. We have to move forward, however, and I am committing myself to be part of the larger and continued discussion, which this incident exposed, that we disparately need in this community, to listen certainly, to educate and correct unconscious biases or historical prejudices when necessary, and to ultimately take action when needed to keep Palo Alto a truly safe, welcoming and inclusive community, where no one is unfairly judged by their name, ethnicity or their other identities, even when such action may be deemed “controversial” or “divisive” by those who oppose such action.”

Back in March, there was some opposition to renaming a Palo Alto middle school in his name:

“Backlash to a proposed name for a Palo Alto middle school has provoked surprise and confusion among Japanese-American residents who don’t see the connection between Fred Yamamoto, the Palo Altan who was held in Japanese internment camps and later died in combat, and Isoroku Yamamoto, the reviled marshal admiral who ordered the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Tamie Yusa-Ogawa, a Mountain View native who now lives in the Los Angeles area, called the protest “racism, plain and simple.”

“Yamamoto is an extremely common name. I understand why these people don’t want a school named after Isoroku Yamamoto, but Fred Yamamoto shouldn’t lose out just because he has the same last name,” Yusa-Ogawa, a Los Altos High School graduate, told the Post.

Several dozen parents and residents, including many from Chinese communities, spoke out against renaming Jordan or Terman middle school after Fred Yamamoto at a meeting of the school district’s Recommending School Names Committee on Monday.”

When I had heard about this, I was completely dumbfounded, but not totally surprised. I know some first generation Chinese Americans that harbor anti-Japanese feelings due to World War II. However, first and foremost, Fred Yamamoto was born-and-raised in the United States and is an American of Japanese decent – and died in combat for our country. As far as I’m concerned, Yamamoto is an American hero.

I think a lot of Asians in Asia and Asian Americans still confuse or conflate race with nationality. Fred Yamamoto was not related at all to Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto. I’m sure most Americans don’t even know who Admiral Yamamoto is! My Japanese and Japanese American friends noted that Yamamoto is a very common Japanese last name.

To remember Fred Yamamoto, there’s an effort to establish a scholarship fund in his name:

“At the close of the 2017/18 School Year, we will use the donations to award and recognize a student (or students) who have demonstrated civic leadership, inclusion and service reminiscent of Fred’s spirit. (Depending on the sum raised, we might be able to keep the Scholarship active for more than one year.)

We believe this is an effort many in the community can come together to join: those who supported Fred’s nomination and those who opposed it.  For anyone who was inspired by Fred Yamamoto’s service and sacrifice and wants to work to keep his memory alive: Thank You!”

Please consider donating here:
https://www.gofundme.com/fred-m-yamamoto-scholarship-fund

John Chiang Remains a Top Contender in Race for California State Governor

California state treasurer John Chiang was in the San Jose area supporting California assemblymember Evan Low on Sunday, March 18th, and I had a chance to catch up with him after the belated Lunar New Year fundraising dinner. The last time I saw John was when he was in town being endorsed by Evan last November.

The more recent exciting news about the race for California governor was at the California Democratic state convention, where no Democrat gained the party endorsement (the threshold is 60%) and John came in second.  According to KTLA’s CNN wire:

“The endorsement battle proved competitive in the governor’s race at at Saturday’s California Democratic party convention, where John Chiang and Gavin Newsom were locked in a close race for the party’s nod.

“After the votes were tallied, no consensus was reached for a gubernatorial candidate. Newsom received the highest percentage of votes with 39 percent, followed by Chiang with 30 percent, Delaine Eastin with 20 percent, and Villaraigosa with 9 percent.”

When I heard that news, I was happy to hear how well John did at the convention. Just a few days before, a recent poll (Thur 3/15/2018) by the Newsom campaign revealed:

“In the survey of 1,000 likely voters done by nationally recognized pollster David Binder, Newsom corrals 26 percent of the vote; Cox, 16 percent; Democratic state Treasurer John Chiang, 13 percent; former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, 12 percent, Assemblyman Travis Allen, R-Huntington Beach, 10 percent; Democratic former Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin, 7 percent; and former Hillary Clinton adviser Amanda Renteria, 4 percent. The survey found 12 percent of respondents were undecided.”

With less than 80 days left until the June 5th primary, there’s still some ground for John to pick up.

John discussed how the cost of housing was an issue in California (where 20% of residents live in poverty), how his stance differed from his opponents’, and how he was the first state-wide official in the United States to take on the corrupt practices of Wells Fargo.

I wish the best of luck to John with the rest of the campaign!

Michelle Kwan Endorses Vivek Viswanathan for California State Treasurer

Michelle Kwan and Vivek Viswanathan

Here with Michelle W. Kwan reminiscing about our time on the 2016 campaign trail with Hillary Clinton. Thanks so much for your support, Michelle! Check out our campaign at www.vivekforca.com #VivekforTreasurer #RunwithVivek

Posted by Vivek Viswanathan on Saturday, March 3, 2018

Video & Image courtesy of Vivek Viswanathan for State Treasurer 2018 – https://www.vivekforca.com/

Back in early March, I was on Facebook and I saw a fundraising event titled Happy Hour: Michelle Kwan & Vivek Viswanathan in San Francisco, and I was like, what?!?

I had briefly seen Michelle back in January for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in the security line for the press/VIP entrance but didn’t get a chance to chat with her since I wanted to make the press conference for the announcement of the U.S. Olympic men’s figure skating team. The first and only time I had met Michelle was back in the Fall of 2015 for a fundraiser for Asian Americans for Hillary in San Francisco. Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton didn’t become president …

Who is this Vivek Viswanathan candidate and what is he running for was what I first thought? He’s running for California State Treasurer, to replace outgoing Treasurer John Chiang (who is running for Governor of California.) Well, since Michelle was going to the event – I had to go and learn more about Vivek!

At the Happy Hour, Vivek’s remarks were brief, but I was able to stay for dinner and hear more in-depth from not only Vivek, but also:

https://youtu.be/gxzzQ8buvoY

I also had a chance to first chat with Vivek’s Aunt & Uncle, who live near San Jose, as well as his Mom & Dad as well as his brother (who were all in town for the event visiting from New York). At the Happy Hour and also during the dinner reception, I did get to learn that Vivek is a really smart guy, having gone to Harvard for undegrad, and getting his JD/MBA at Stanford.

He’s also been a Special Advisor, Office of Governor Jerry Brown and also a Policy Advisor to Hillary Clinton on her presidential campaign. Michelle Kwan, Ann O’Leary and Dan Schwerin knew Vivek from working on the Hillary Clinton campaign together at the campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, New York and that’s how they all got to know Vivik and to endorse him.

All of this at the age of 30. He’s also doing something unique to get the word out about his race for California State Treasurer – running 500 miles from Sacramento to San Diego over a period of around two months to reach out to Californians and learn & listen.

After the long evening, I did get a chance to do a brief interview with Vivek:

I really admire Vivek putting himself out there and running for office, but it will be a big challenge for him running against a very established Democrat that is very well known and liked among the Democratic establishment even if the general Californian public doesn’t know her that well (a lot of people don’t even know who John Chiang is!)

There is also apparently a Republican in the race for State Treasurer according to Ballotpedia, but given there are no elected Republicans holding state wise offices, I’m pretty sure that his chances are close to zero of being elected, but he might have a chance to make it from the open primary to the general election in November.

The only poll that matters is election day. Stranger things have happened, as we all know, Donald Trump was elected president … And first time candidate Stephanie Murphy made history by beating a 24 year incumbent to become the first Vietnamese American woman elected to Congress.

Oh, and I also did get a chance to meet Michelle and chat with her at both the happy hour and dinner reception:

The above photo got me over 100+ likes on Facebook 🙂 and plenty of comments …

Best of luck to Vivek is his run for California State Treasurer! You can follow Vivek at:

Website: www.vivekforca.com | Facebook: www.facebook.com/vivekforca

Twitter: @vivekforca | Instagram: www.instagram.com/vivekforca

Dr. Mai Khanh Tran is running for Congress in hotly contest seat for CA-39

I recently had a chance to meet Dr. Mai Khanh Tran while she was visiting in downtown San Jose. She’s one of many running for an open seat in the 39th Congressional District of California, after Republican incumbent Ed Royce announced, like many Congressional Republicans in “purple” districts, that he was retiring from Congress. But Republican Young Kim is the anointed successor by Royce (having worked for him previously), a Korean American business woman who previously had served a term in the California State Assembly.

I had made a small donation to Tran’s campaign because I was looking to support and flip a Republican Congressional District so that the Democrats can win the House in November 2018 and she was an Asian American woman doctor! This was prior to Taiwanese American Jay Chen entering the race, who had previously ran against Ed Royce back in 2012 – who I supported and also had a chance to interview at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. After Royce had announced he was retiring, Chen announced he was running for the seat. I had heard that he promised not to enter the race, but Royce’s retirement of course changes the dynamics of the whole race and makes the race a jungle primary in June 2018.

I’m glad I don’t live in California’s 39th Congressional District, because I’m not sure who would vote for – Tran or Chen. Tran made a good case for her vote: she’s the only immigrant refugee female Asian American doctor running for office in that district. She also employees 90 people in her medical practice so has practical small business experience.

But I guess I wouldn’t have to make a choice, because in a surprise move, Chen decided for the “greater good” to withdraw from the Congressional race, since it was already a crowded Democratic field:

“Potential candidate Jay Chen said that he won’t file to run in CA-39, the seat held by retiring Republican Ed Royce and one of Democrats’ best pickup opportunities if they can avoid splitting the vote in the top-two primary in June.

“As of now 9 Democratic candidates and 7 Republican candidates have filed for a primary in which Republican turnout may remain higher than Democratic turnout,” Chen said in a statement.  “The probability of two Republicans advancing in November, and Democrats squandering a historic opportunity, is real.”

“The greatest contribution I can make right now is to help consolidate the field, by stepping away from it.  We cannot afford to let this seat slip away, and we must all put the greater good over personal ambition,” he added.

The DCCC [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] praised the move in a statement. “

I was kind of shocked when I heard the news, since Chen had gotten a lot of endorsements, but in a recent polling I came across:

didn’t look great for him. Maybe since Chen was the last to enter the race, that many didn’t know he was running yet?

Ed Royce and the Republican Party specifically chose to get behind Young Kim because she’s an Asian American female Republican – someone that the district could get behind. Demographically, the district is:

  • 55.1% White
  • 28.3% Asian
  • 2.4% Black
  • 34.6% Hispanic

There are also two self-funders (including one lottery winner!). So there could be a lot of split votes with a lot of Democrats running and Republicans running – though I think there will be consolidation behind Young Kim as the race gets closer.

So even though Royce won re-election in November 2016, the district voted for Hillary Clinton Clinton beat Donald Trump 51% to 43%. This is one of the key Congressional Districts that the Democrats have targeted to win.

Tran has quite the compelling life story:

“When I was 9-years old, a U.S. Marine carried me from the tarmac in San Francisco. He was the first American I ever met.

It was 1975, and I couldn’t thank him because I didn’t speak a word of English. Several months earlier, my dad had dropped my three siblings and me off at an orphanage in Saigon just before the city fell. None of us knew if we’d ever see each other again. I didn’t know it then, but my father’s selfless act of love gave his children a shot at freedom and a better life.

Balancing work and school was difficult, but with the support of my family and community I was able to get the grades to be admitted to Harvard. There I cleaned bathrooms as a janitor, working my way through school with the help of Pell Grants and scholarships. Next came the Dartmouth-Brown joint Medical School program, financed again with the help of scholarships, student loans, and federal grants. I finished my residency in Pediatrics at UCLA, and settled in Orange County, where I have been caring for the children of working families for the past twenty five years.

I’m also a two-time breast cancer survivor, and was blessed to become a mother in my forties. Thankfully, I had reliable health insurance that I could afford, or neither would have been possible.”

After reading and meeting Tran, I feel like I could be doing more with my life! Tran has been living the American dream and contributing to our great country.

Back in January, she made it as part of the cover of Time:

If you didn’t know already, there are already a record number of women running for office.

If elected in November 2018, Tran would be the first female doctor ever elected to Congress (I’m told there was one who represented the U.S. Virgin Islands – but that Representative doesn’t have a vote for the U.S. territory).

Best of luck to Tran in the primary, and in the general election if she makes it through the primary!

 

 

 

8Asians Interview with Dave Min for Congress (CA-45)

Back in January, I was able to meet up with Korean American Dave Min,

who is running for Congress in California’s 45th Congressional District, which is in Southern California, encompassing part of Irvine:

Min was raised in the Palo Alto area and we have a mutual friend who introduced us to each other. Min is currently a law professor at the University of California, Irvine. From his campaign website:

“A first-generation Korean-American, Dave worked as an enforcement attorney at the Securities and Exchange Commission, as an economic and financial policy advisor to Senator Chuck Schumer, and as an economic policy director at the Center for American Progress. Dave grew up in California, and Dave and his wife Jane settled in Irvine where they both teach at the UC Irvine School of Law while raising their three children.”

I had a chance to chat with Min at a local Starbucks for almost 17 minutes to ask him about running against Republican incumbent Representative Mimi Walters along with a field of Democratic candidates (including another UC Irvine professor!)

From a demographics standpoint, the 45th Congressional District (CD-45) is fairly diverse and highly educated:

  • 66.9% White
  • 21.0% Asian
  • 1.4% Black
  • 18.7% Hispanic
  • High school graduation rate: 92.5%
  • College graduation rate: 50%

More importantly, Orange County in 2016 49.8 percent voted for Hillary Clinton compared to 44.9 for Trump when Walters got re-elected. Although Orange County has traditionally been fairly conservative (certain for California), given how unpopular Trump is in California, there’s a good chance for Min or another Democrat to defeat Walters.

Best of luck to Min – it’ll be interesting to see if he can make it past the open “jungle” primary with so many running for the seat.

8th Annual Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties & the Constitution – with Daniel Ellsberg

Every year since the kickoff year in 2011, I’ve tried to make the annual Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties & the Constitution in the Bay Area.

This year, I was particularly interested since after watching the movie The Post (about The Washington Post and its reporting of the Pentagon Papers, which was leaked by Daniel Ellsberg), the keynote speaker this year was was Daniel Ellsberg, who apparently lives in Northern California.

Ellsberg did not disappoint! Ellsberg’s keynote was I thought, very thought provoking, discussing that the Trump America we know today existed before Trump was elected. Ellsberg also thought that if there was another “9/11” event that there would be indeed Muslim concentration and deportation camps. Ellsberg said the events of Charlottesville with the white supremacist and Trump and Trump’s administrations’ racist attitudes and that a very large fraction of America is actually represented by Trump. Some may want just jobs, and not all are racists, homophobes, misogynists, etc… it is not 1% There are a lot of contradictions in American, like the first 11 out of 15 presidents of the United States owned slaves, 8 of them while they were president.

The whole program in the video includes:

  • Welcome – Jane Katsuyama, Emcee
  • Greeting – Office of Congresswoman Barbara Lee, 13th District of California
  • Speech Contest Winner – Sarah Khan, Fred T. Korematsu Middle School
  • Statement: Sanctuary State – Office of CA Assembly Rob Bonta, CA 18th Assembly District
  • Guest Speaker – Reyna Grande
  • Lion Dance – Leung’s White Crane and Dragon Group
  • Film Clip: And Then They Came For Us – Abby Ginzberg, Director
  • Fred Korematsu Speaks Up – Laura Atkins & Stan Yogi, Authors
  • 50:451:21:50 – Keynote Speaker – Daniel Ellsberg
  • Call to Action – Adena Ishii
  • Public Service Announcement (PSA) – Fred Korematsu Day
  • Tribute to Mayor Edwin M. Lee, Korematsu Institute Update – Karen Korematsu

Warriors Unveil New Look: Chinese Heritage Uniform

Although I’ve lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1999, I only started following the NBA and the Golden State Warriors since they signed Jeremy Lin, and after Lin left – with the rise of Stephen Curry. On a demographic percentage basis, the San Francisco Bay Area probably has the largest Asian and Asian American population for any given NBA market – the 2010 census put’s that figure at 23.3%. And we also know that the NBA is huge in China:

“Under Xi, the government has poured money into investments designed to transform China into a soccer superpower on par with Brazil. Yet the National Basketball Association remains by far China’s most popular sports league. According to one recent study that measured online engagement, the NBA is six times more popular in China than the three largest European soccer leagues combined. During the 2017 NBA Finals, more than 190 million Chinese streamed the games on their mobile devices. By contrast, in the U.S., each Finals game averaged 20.4 million viewers, and an additional 430,000 live-streamers.”

So it’s no surprise that the Golden State Warriors and the NBA try to appeal to these fans, and no surprise again that the Warriors reveal a new Chinese heritage uniform:

The 2017 NBA Champion Golden State Warriors will wear Chinese Heritage alternate uniforms for select games during the 2017-18 season as a nod to the strong Chinese culture in the Bay Area, the team announced today. The Warriors will first wear the Chinese Heritage alternate uniforms at home on Thursday, January 25th vs. Minnesota when the team plays the Timberwolves at home. Chinese Heritage merchandise, including hats, shirts and sweatshirts, is available now at warriors.com and will be available at the Warriors Team Store tonight, while Chinese Heritage alternate jerseys for every player on the roster is available for presale at warriors.com.

The Bay Area has the top three out of five Asian populations in the U.S. (Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose) and the new Chinese Heritage alternate uniform pays tribute to that strong Chinese culture and the prosperity that the region and the Warriors have enjoyed. The Chinese characters for prosperity are proudly placed on the waistline of the shorts as the chest logo combines the Golden Gate Bridge and classic symbolism. The suspension bridge detail, that has appeared on previous Warriors uniform Editions, remains on the shorts. “The Bay,” which appears on the front of the jersey, recognizes the importance of the entire Bay Area to the Warriors organization. In coming seasons, the Warriors will continue to use “The Bay” uniform highlighting a variety of heritages special and unique to the Bay Area.

The Warriors are wearing the Chinese Heritage uniform for the following games:

  • Thursday, January 25th vs. Minnesota
  • Saturday, February 24th vs. Oklahoma City
  • Wednesday, February 28th at Washington
  • Thursday, March 8th vs. San Antonio
  • Saturday, March 17th at Phoenix
  • Monday, March 19th at San Antonio
  • Thursday, March 29th vs. Milwaukee
  • Saturday, March 31st at Sacramento
  • Tuesday, April 3rd at Oklahoma City

I’m wouldn’t be surprised if these are sold in China as well.

The Jim Jefferies Show: Congressman Ted Lieu – Trolling the President

I’ve blogged about my favorite Taiwanese American Congressman, Ted Lieu. I’ve never watched The Jim Jefferies Show on Comedy Show, but I saw this interview with Congressman Lieu I think on Facebook. The last time I saw Congressman Lieu on TV I think was on 60 Minutes.

This time around, Lieu is interviewed by comedian Jim Jefferies about Lieu’s infamous trolling of President Donald Trump on Twitter, as reported in this Washington Post article this past Spring:

“Since the beginning of the year, followers of his personal @tedlieu account have exploded, going from fewer than 10,000 to more than 122,000. (The official @reptedlieu account, managed by his staff, is generally more cautious, like Lieu’s former public profile.)

His frequent barbs have gotten the far right’s attention. Breitbart News has wondered whether, as a colonel in the Air Force Reserve, he could be court-martialed for persistent criticism of the commander in chief. (He can’t be, and he doesn’t tweet on duty.)

In conversation, Lieu is far more cautious and earnest than he is in his Twitter ripostes, and polite to a fault. Born in Taiwan, he projects a conservatism in manner and dress that seems at odds with many of his constituents.

After a dozen years serving in local and state politics, he succeeded Democrat Henry Waxman, who retired in 2014 after representing California’s 33rd District for four decades, more than three-quarters of Lieu’s life. The district is among the nation’s wealthiest and includes Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Malibu and Lieu’s more middle-class home of Torrance.

Lieu was elected president of his Democratic freshman class, but his first two years in Congress were comparatively quiet on social media. “We had a Democratic president who could stop stupid ideas and unconstitutional ideas,” he says. Now, Democratic members of Congress “are basically the last line of defense.”

Trump and his administration unleashed Lieu’s mojo. “Was charged $2.99 for coffee listed at $2.59,” ran one tweet. “That’s why I have trust issues. Oh, and the fact that @seanspicer at #WhiteHouse makes s— up.”

I love following Congressman Lieu and do wonder if his tweets are to give himself a higher profile. This past July, I did see Lieu speak at Politicon 2017 in Pasadena, and was able to ask him if he was going to run for Senate if California Senator Dianne Feinstein was going to retire (she’s 84 and her current term expires in 2018) – he stated he was focused on getting re-elected and helping elect a Democratic House for 2018 (note: Feinstein has since stated she’s going to run for re-election).

You can follow Congressman Lieu’s latest tweets here:

 

 

 

 

2017 – 2018 Golden State Warriors Asian Heritage Night

Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’ve become a fan of the Golden State Warriors when the Warriors first signed on Jeremy Lin back in 2010. And since then, the Warriors have gotten better and better (although Lin has been long gone), including winning the 2017 NBA championship last year. So when I get the opportunity to attend a game on behalf of 8Asians.com, I do!

Back on Monday, December 11th, the Warriors held their annual Asian Heritage Night celebration game against the Portland Trail Blazers, with the Crystal Children’s Choir performing the national anthem and San Jose Taiko providing the half-time entertainment.

To be honest, I had never heard of the Crystal Children’s Choir prior to attending the game:

“Crystal Children’s Choir was founded in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1994. Since then, it has grown into an organization of over one thousand members. Choir members rehearse every week with their respective ages and skill levels in four Bay Area cities – Cupertino, Fremont, Foster City, and San Jose. … We aspire to be cultural ambassadors of children’s choral music, especially in the field of Chinese folk songs and newly commissioned works. Through a unique musical and life-enhancing education offering to its choristers, Crystal Children’s Choir hopes to nurture teamwork, love of music, and excellence in choral singing among younger generations.”

As far as taiko drumming, I’ve definitely seen that before and have heard of San Jose Taiko:

Since 1973, San Jose Taiko has captivated global audiences and critics alike with the powerful sounds of the taiko.

Inspired by traditional Japanese drumming, company performers express the beauty of the human spirit through the voice of the taiko, creating a vibrant, contemporary art form as they strive to connect people through cultural understanding, creative expression, and rhythmic heartbeat.

San Jose Taiko was founded by young Asian Americans searching for an outlet to convey their experiences as third generation Japanese Americans, or Sansei. Looking to Japan for inspiration, they were drawn to the empowering sounds of the taiko – the Japanese drum – an instrument that embodies the spiritual essence and heartbeat of Japan.

As for the game itself, the Golden State Warriors are an exceedingly good team, so I never really had any doubt that the Warriors would win the game against Portland, which they did – even though star players such as Stephen Curry and Draymond Green didn’t play due to injuries.

Maia & Alex Shibutani Siblings and Madison Chock Make 2018 U.S. Olympic Ice Dance Team

The Japanese American dynamic duo brother & sister siblings Maia & Alex Shibutani (also known as the Shib Sibs), as well as Madison Chock (and her ice dance partner and Evan Bates) made the 2018 U.S. Olympic Ice Dance Figure Skating Team, as announced this past Sunday during a press conference and press release:

“U.S. Figure Skating announced today the ice dance teams who will compete at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 as part of the U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team.

The ice dance team is Madison Chock and Evan BatesMadison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, and Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani.

Madison Chock and Evan Bates are the 2018 U.S. bronze medalists. They are the 2015 U.S. champions, 2016 World bronze medalists and placed eighth at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. After winning silver at both of their Grand Prix assignments this season, they qualified for their fourth-straight Grand Prix Final.

Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani are two-time U.S. champions. They topped the podium at both of their Grand Prix assignments this season before earning bronze at the Grand Prix Final. They are the 2017 World bronze medalists, 2016 World silver medalists, and placed ninth at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.”

Photo by 8Asians

Earlier that day, I got to see Maia & Alex Shibutani perform, and they were favored to win the Gold for the 2018 U.S. Championships (often referred to as “Nationals”) for Ice Dance, but had a minor hiccup in their free dance routine which cost them dearly, when Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue performed flawlessly, wining in total points (short dance + free dance) 197.12 vs. the Shibutani’s 196.93, a difference of just .19 points!

Maia & Alex Shibutani were amazing. I remember seeing others post about them on Facebook, and you should take a look at yourself at how talented they are.

https://youtu.be/Ny79P7iiHt0

This will be their *second* trip to the Olympics, as they competed also in 2014. Amazing.

Additionally, Asian American Madison Chock and her ice dancing partner Evan Bates made the team as well, and I also had the opportunity to see them perform for the free skate routine.

Photo by 8Asians

From Wikipedia, Chock’s background is: “She is of Chinese-Hawaiian descent on her father’s side, and German, English, Irish, French, and Dutch descent on her mother Barbara Hall’s side.” Chock doesn’t sound like a Chinese last name to me, but perhaps it was anglicized non-traditionally.

2018 U.S. Championships Ice Dancing Press Conference

Congratulations to all who made the Olympic team!

Nathan Chen and Vincent Zhou Make U.S. Men’s 2018 Olympic Figure Skating Team; Zhou Responds to Racist Tweet

Part 2 of the press conference here.

On Sunday, Nathan Chen, Adam Rippon and Vincent Zhou were named to the U.S. Figure Skating Team:

“U.S. Figure Skating announced today the men who will compete at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 as part of the U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team.

The men’s singles team is Nathan Chen, Adam Rippon and Vincent Zhou.

Nathan Chen is the 2018 U.S. champion, successfully defending his 2017 title. Chen entered the 2018 U.S. Championships as the only undefeated male skater in the 2017-18 season, winning two Grand Prix Series titles and the Grand Prix Final. Chen is the only man in the world to receive credit for landing five different types of quadruple jumps in international competition.

Adam Rippon is the 2016 U.S. champion, and placed fourth at the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships. After winning silver at both of his Grand Prix Series assignments this season, Rippon earned his second-straight trip to the Grand Prix Final, where he placed fifth.

Vincent Zhou is the 2018 U.S. bronze medalist. He won the 2017 U.S. silver medal and ended last season as the 2017 World Junior champion. Chen has won U.S. titles at the intermediate (2011), novice (2012) and junior (2013) levels.

Alternates for the 2018 men’s Olympic Team have been named as Jason Brown (first alternate),Ross Miner (second alternate), and Max Aaron (third alternate).”

 

There was absolutely no doubt, especially after Saturday’s performance, that Nathan Chen would be named to the 2018 U.S. Men’s Olympic Figure skating team. However, the second two spots were up for grabs after some disastrous performances by Adam Rippon and Jason Brown at Nationals. Ultimately, Rippon was selected to be part of the team due to his body of work the past year and beyond.

Palo Alto native Vincent Zhou, was selected as the third member of the men’s figure skating team. To be honest, I don’t really follow Zhou even though he lives in the next town over, and only usually follow figure skating during the Olympics unless I happen to catch it on TV.

After the press conference, I had the chance to ask Zhou a question towards the end of the concurrent individual interview sessions of the press conference, asking him what was about Palo Alto that produced athletes such as Jeremy Lin and himself. He obviously recognized what I was getting at and responded (minute 5:56)

At first, I think I had noticed one reporter seemed to be a little put off by the question, as if it was not relevant (which annoyed me and definitely reinforced my thoughts on diversity in the newsroom). However, after Zhou answered my question, an Asian/Asian American reporter (I think from a local Chinese language television news station) asked about the racist tweet sent less than several hours ago after Zhou won the Bronze (minute 8:04):

(Of course that spineless racist tweeter deleted that tweet. I’d love to really found out who that tweeter was …)

To be honest, I was a little surprised that Zhou had received such a tweet, since I had not heard of other such racist tweets regarding Mirari Nigasu, Karen Chen or even Nathen Chen. But in the press conference, Zhou reiterated what he had tweeted. After that response, I felt that I was definitely happy to have asked my question regarding Zhou and his Asian American background.

Since I knew Nathan Chen was going to bombarded by reporters, I wanted to focus in on Vincent Zhou (and also, since he lives in the next town over, I figured I might be able to interview him down the road – though I haven’t had a chance to interview Jeremy Lin yet …). With some time remaining, I moved over to see what Chen was answering:

I think at this point in time, Chen is highly likely to medal at the Olympics and has a very good chance to win the Gold. From the past few days of observing Chen, he is supremely confident and a bit stoic and a bit matter-of-fact, something that his teammate Adam Rippon said that he was quite the opposite (with Chen nodding in approval of his description of their skating styles and personalities).

Mirai Nagasu and Karen Chen Make U.S. Women’s 2018 Olympic Figure Skating Team

Press Conference:  2018 U.S. Women’s Olympic Skating Team Selection

I had the real honor and pleasure to witness history live in San Jose, California (15 miles from where I live, 5 miles from where I currently work) to see two Asian American women, Japanese American skater Mirai Nagasu and Taiwanese American Skater Karen Chen skate at the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships, where they respectively came in 2nd & 3rd:

“Mirai Nagasu (Pasadena FSC), the 2008 U.S. champion, earned a silver medal with 213.84 points, ahead of Karen Chen (Peninsula FSC), the 2017 U.S. champion, who secured the bronze medal with a score of 198.59 points. Three-time U.S. champion Ashley Wagner (SC of Wilmington) finished fourth with 196.19.”

You can watch the press conference of that that here.

So the 2018 U.S. Olympic Women’s Figure Skating team will consist of:

Bradie Tennell is the 2018 U.S. champion. She won the U.S. junior title in 2015 and the bronze medal at Bridgestone Skate America earlier this season. Her short program score of 73.79 at the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships marked a new U.S. record.

Mirai Nagasu is the 2018 U.S. silver medalist. She won the U.S. ladies title in 2008 and placed fourth at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia. She is the second American woman in history to land a triple Axel in international competition.

Karen Chen is the 2018 U.S. bronze medalist. She won the U.S. ladies title in 2017, and is the 2015 U.S. bronze medalist. Her fourth-place performance at the 2017 World Figure Skating Championships secured three ladies spots for the United States at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.

Alternates for the 2018 Olympic Team have been named as Ashley Wagner (first alternate), Mariah Bell(second alternate), and Angela Wang (third alternate).

After the press conference, Tennell, Nagasu & Chen sat down for press interviews for about 30 minutes. Here are about, in total, 5 minutes of video clips:

Note: I focused on Chen since I wanted to ask, but didn’t get a chance, to see – if she knew – if she was possibly the first Taiwanese American to represent the United States for women’s individual figure skating.