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tv   Asian Pacific America with Robert Handa  NBC  February 11, 2018 5:30am-6:01am PST

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robert handa: hello, and welcome to "asian pacific america." i'm robert handa, your host for our show here on nbc bay area and cozi tv. and happy new year as we get ready to celebrate the lunar new year, including many chinese new year events. but this week, we also saw the start of the 2018 winter olympics from south korea. nbc bay area is proud to be bringing it to you, and we start our show profiling two bay area olympians. we hear from one of the leading medal contenders, karen chen, the us women's figure skating champion, who hails from fremont, and will talk to us about growing up in the bay area and how her culture helps contribute to her success. then we will talk with vincent zhou of palo alto, a junior men's world champion skater who also has some very interesting
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things to say about growing up asian in the bay area. we follow up with a look at lunar new year events, including a tribute from the golden state warriors, who unveiled a new chinese heritage jersey. and we'll wrap up with one of our favorite guests for our traditional artistic and cultural performance with the firebird youth chinese orchestra, who you may know from previous performances. they are a group of talented youth playing traditional chinese instruments. well, karen chen is going for the gold at the winter olympics. and with the constant spotlight, the public has had a chance to hear about her life as an athlete, but we sat down with her backstage at the recent kristi yamaguchi golden moment show to talk about the more personal side of her journey. robert: and we are here with karen chen. karen, welcome to "asian pacific america." karen chen: thank you for having me. robert: thank you for doing this. you have become a very high profile public figure skater because of your success recently. has it made it--has it been a tough thing to do, like,
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interviews and be in the public eye so much? karen: yes, for sure. it took a while to get used to. and being a shy kid growing up, it was kind of hard for me to i guess open up and really socialize. but i feel like with skating, skating was kind of my way to express myself on ice, and that really helped me open up and, you know, with all these really great opportunities. robert: now, you grew up in fremont. karen: yes. robert: and i think there was another skater there that might've been a role model for you. karen: yes, i wonder who it is. robert: was she--was she a role model for you? karen: yes, kristi yamaguchi is more than a role model. i mean, she's amazing, she's inspiring, she's so giving, she's so generous. i mean, i want to grow up and just be like her. robert: well, you're on your way. karen: i sure hope so. robert: what are some of the things that you take from watching kristi in terms of not just on the ice, but maybe off that helps you? karen: i think that, you know, it's just her presence. like when she enters a room, like i don't know,
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it's just the way she is. like, she's just so kind and so wonderful and such an amazing person. and you feel it when you're next to her. and i know when i'm taking the ice with her, like sometimes i'll just stand there and be in awe, and just be like, "wow, that's kristi yamaguchi. i'm on the ice and skating next to her." robert: i was talking with kristi, we were noticing that there's an awful lot of asian-american pacific islander ice skaters these days, particularly women and girls. and kristi wouldn't really say that she was a role model for a lot of them, but as you talk to them, you find out that she is. karen: yes. robert: do you feel that too, that there's sort of almost a cultural element to the ice skating scene these days that brings so many asian-american and pacific islanders into it? karen: i think for sure the numbers have been increasing. and i feel like it's a great thing for the sport and for all of us in general. and obviously, like kristi yamaguchi, she's a role model,
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there's also like michelle kwan and all these really amazing skaters that we can all look up to. robert: is there something about ice skating that you think maybe appeals culturally to the athletes? karen: i think that ice skating is such a great balance of athleticism and also, you know, the artistry involved because there's so many difficult elements and tricks and spins we're doing, but at the same time, we want to look effortless. and we're also, you know, skating to music. so, like there's so many factors that make skating quite wonderful. robert: the international aspect of figure skating, the competition and everything, are you conscious of the fact that you've become sort of a worldwide figure, like in asia and in pacific islander communities? karen: it's something that i've never really put much thought into. i've always been just really focused on myself and just really thinking about, you know, setting my goals and wanting to,
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you know, go chase after those goals and dreams, and just see how far i could go. robert: are you starting to think maybe a little more globally now, though, as your success and as you start-- karen: definitely a little bit because i am--you know, for international competitions, i will be traveling to, you know, different countries for competitions and, you know, seeing all these other competitors. but i feel like it's such a great opportunity skating has helped me discover. robert: and of course the bay area is so diverse anyway, you have that kind of background already, huh? karen: mm-hmm. robert: is the bay area, has it been a good place for you as a skater? do you think it's basically good for young ice skaters? karen: yes, i think it's such a great place. i mean, there are a bunch of really nice rinks that we can all skate at. and for sure i always come back and skate at my home rink in fremont all the time, although i do train in southern california now most of the time. but whenever i come back, i always go back to, you know, the rink where i first started skating. robert: you know, i saw your mom was here with you giving you support.
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karen: yes. robert: is there sort of a, kind of a cultural element to your upbringing that helps you deal with the competition and the training and everything? karen: yes, for sure. like you mentioned my mom, she is more than my number one supporter. i mean, she's there for me and, you know, she goes to all my competitions with me. and just knowing that she's there to support me no matter what i'm going through. and i mean, she's put so many sacrifices and helped me to be who i am today, and helped me to be where i am, so i'm so thankful to have her here. robert: anything that you're thinking about or focusing on now that will help you in particular to get ready for the olympics? karen: for sure it's just being healthy because i know that if i'm feeling good, my body's feeling good, i can do--put out 100% if not more when i'm out there competing. so, that's definitely the main focus. robert: well, i can tell you that you have improved quite a bit. if you had trouble doing interviews before,
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you're not having any trouble now. karen: thank you so much. robert: thank you very much for being here, and good luck in the olympics. karen: thank you so much. robert: well, obviously best of luck to karen. and we want to remind everyone again about the nbc bay area karen chen watch party in fremont at campo di bocce in fremont. that's on february 20 and the 22nd at 5 p.m. and when we come back, our contender from the men's side, vincent zhou next.
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robert: now, there is another figure skater for us to root for during this year's winter olympics, vincent zhou of palo alto, who leaped on the scene as a junior world champion and seems ready to make that next jump. we also sat down with vincent to talk about his climb to the top, and how his asian-american cultural upbringing played a big part. robert: vincent, thank you very much for doing this. vincent zhou: of course.
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robert: on "asian pacific america," we focus on asian-american and pacific islander issues. give me an idea here. how important a role model was kristi yamaguchi in terms of for ice skating for male and female young skaters? vincent: names like kristi yamaguchi and brian boitano are probably some of the most recognized sports figures around the bay area, and debbie thomas too. i mean, every--almost every skater in this area looks up to them, is inspired by them and what they do. for me, it was both kristi and brian. i grew up watching their performances and their competitions at the olympics. and i mean, just seeing those dreams way over all of our heads. and for me to be here performing with kristi and, you know, working with brian, and getting closer
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to those dreams is quite amazing. robert: is being--kristi being of asian descent as well as ice skating being such an international sport, did that make it something easier for you to relate to in terms of entering as a sport, or? vincent: well, when i entered the sport, i didn't really think about the, you know, competing internationally or whatever. i think i just did it because i loved it. and i mean, i woke up at before 4 a.m. every day to skate, and that really helped me develop an appreciation and respect for what it takes to, you know, to be a skater. and that respect has carried me further than i would have if i didn't put so much--dedicate so much time and effort into it. robert: how quickly did you find out that you had maybe special talents or special abilities that could take you to a higher level than just skating for fun? vincent: you know, honestly i never really thought about it that much.
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robert: really? vincent: i mean, like i was doing all my triples besides triple axel by the time i was 10 years old, which is very rare, but i don't think i recognized it as, you know--i mean, lots of people were like, "vincent, you're so talented," but i never really thought about it that way. i just, you know, i just stayed in my bubble and did what i did. and it's not until, you know, i grew and matured a little more that i started to realize that, you know, it takes a certain amount of talent to be here. not only talent, but also hard work. you can be as talented as you want, if you don't work hard, you're not going to get anywhere. robert: how are you approaching the olympics, the olympic level competition? vincent: there's lots of stress, lots of pressure, not just on me but on my whole team and my parents as well. in order to manage all the things going on, all the training, the health, the recovery every day after
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training, nutrition, mental training, and off-ice workouts, physical therapy, you know, us figuring skating programs and media interviews. i mean, it's not just going to the rink, skating, coming back, and you know, sleeping. it's so much more than that. so, the things i just listed, that's not even--that's not even a little bit of it. so, managing all these things is very difficult, but it takes--you know, we have to have a routine, and know what we're doing, and train smart so that i'm able to, you know, not--if i train smart, i can stay healthy that way, and i don't have to take time off of my normal routine to try and, you know, schedule a doctor appointment. robert: but at the core, you're having fun, right? vincent: yes, i love skating, that's why i'm here. if i didn't love skating, then i wouldn't be sitting here.
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i wouldn't be doing this show if i didn't--i didn't love it. i mean, it takes a certain amount of passion for what you're doing to go beyond, you know, sacrificing a job, and family life, and social interaction for--you know, for an olympic dream. you have to love the sport to do that, otherwise, you know, you won't be able to put effort into it. you won't want to put effort into it. robert: thank you very much for doing our show. vincent: of course. robert: thank you and good luck. vincent: thank you. robert: yes, best of luck to vincent. he really deserves it. coming up next, some lunar new year events, including how the golden state warriors are paying tribute. that's up next.
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robert: it is time to celebrate the lunar new year, the year of the dog. as you may know, the chinese new year falls
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on a different date each year. this time, it will be officially on friday, february 16, but of course the new year celebrations take place from around january 21 to february 20. it was during that time the world champion golden state warriors unveiled this year's version of its chinese heritage uniforms. they could've used a taller model for this extra large jersey the team sent us, but it's impressive nonetheless with its logo that combines the golden gate bridge with chinese symbols expressing prosperity and other positive messages. of course, the warriors pride themselves on their outreach to the asian-american and pacific islander communities in big ways, such as their trip to china, and personal ways, such as klay thompson's recent visit to san francisco's chinatown, where he tried on kimonos and helped make fortune cookies. and warrior assistant coaches ron adams and mike brown also toured chinatown to explore more about the new year celebration sampling traditional chinese dishes. and the warriors will be wearing the chinese heritage uniforms
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again at home in an upcoming game, a big game against okc. hope it brings them good luck. and we also want to remind everyone of the lunar new year celebration going on at the asian art museum in san francisco next sunday, february 18 from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. with dancers, musicians, and storytellers to help roll in the year of the dog. it's always a big, fun event. well, stay with us. we wrap up our show with a mix of old and young the firebird youth chinese orchestra performs for us live in our studio next, don't miss it.
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we are always pleased and proud to have the firebird youth chinese orchestra here with us, especially around the lunar new year, and they are going to play for us. emily, tell us a little bit about why you and some of the other students here got involved in this. emily: we all wanted to learn more about our chinese heritage, and i think it's very interesting how we can all come together to play music from our culture.
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robert: very nice. okay, i'll tell you what, how about if everybody introduces themselves and tells us about the instrument you're playing, and we'll start with the person playing the only western instrument here. leilani: hi, i'm reilani dravassi, and i play the cello. it's a four-stringed western instrument. rachel: i'm rachel, and i play the erhu, which is a two-stringed violin. kellan: i'm kellan, and i play the yangqin, which is a hammered dulcimer. tiffany: i'm tiffany, and i play the dizi, which is a chinese bamboo flute. emily: i'm emily, and i play the--ruan which is a four-stringed guitar. tiffany: i'm tiffany, and i play the pipa, which is a four-stringed lute. robert: all right, very good. a very talented group, and here they are, the firebird youth chinese orchestra, enjoy. ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ [audience applauding] robert: thank you very much. that was wonderful. thank you. impressive as always. we will hear more from them in a little bit. for more information on all of our guests and their events, check out our website at and we are also on social media, twitter, and facebook, so follow us there. our best of luck to vincent zhou and karen chen at the olympics and the golden state warriors against the thunder. happy new year, and now we go out with more
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from the firebird youth chinese orchestra. thanks for watching. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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♪ the united states of america. >> we are spending money like it's out of control. >> we all could have done better in dealing with the situation. this is one for the record book. >> so the philadelphia eagles, the long drought is over. good evening, from pyeongchang, south korea, site of the xxiii olympic games. welcome to the special edition of "sunday today." i'm willie geist. welcome atop my personal ski lodge. the united states has its first


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