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First published online September 7, 2015

Tracing tears and triple axels: Media representations of Japan’s women figure skaters


Anticipating the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, this article uses the triple axel jump, one of the most challenging moves in women’s figure skating, as a heuristic device to track representations of Japanese skaters Ito Midori and Asada Mao in the New York Times and Asahi Shimbun. Ito and Asada are two of only six women to have landed triple axels at international figure skating competitions. Employing affect and feminist theories, I argue that constructions of the skaters’ bodies are not just gendered and heteronormative, but also sexed, raced, and affective. Using discourse analysis, I trace how media representations of Ito and Asada redraw global color lines and national boundaries in sport and negotiate different femininities, underscoring excessive feelings and physical appearance. Contributing to feminist sport studies and transnational feminist cultural studies, this comparative analysis offers new perspectives on women’s sports in Japan and athleticism’s relation to race, femininities, and national identity.

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Michelle H. S. Ho is a PhD student in Cultural Studies at the Department of Cultural Analysis and Theory, Stony Brook University. Her teaching and research interests include affect theory, queer theory, (post)colonial studies, transnational feminisms, and mass culture and gender-based subcultures in Southeast and East Asia. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Sport & Social Issues.

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Published In

Article first published online: September 7, 2015
Issue published: November 2017


  1. affect
  2. Japan
  3. national identity
  4. race
  5. sports media
  6. women’s figure skating

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© The Author(s) 2015.
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Published online: September 7, 2015
Issue published: November 2017



Michelle H. S. Ho


Michelle H. S. Ho, Department of Cultural Analysis and Theory, Stony Brook University, 2048 Humanities Building, Stony Brook, NY 11794, USA. Email: [email protected]

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