Photo/IllutrationYuna Shiraiwa at the Rostelecom Cup in Moscow on Nov. 18 (The Asahi Shimbun)

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  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

When desperate teenager Yuna Shiraiwa turned to crowdfunding to cover her figure skating expenses, it took less than a day to raise more than 7 million yen ($61,600).

“I hope to send strong emotions to people around the world with my quadruple jumps and presentation skills when they watch my performance at the (2022) Beijing Olympics,” she said in her online plea for financial support on Nov. 15.

The second-year high school student, who turned 17 on Nov. 26, said she needs about 6 million yen annually to fund her activities.

“There is a limit to what I can do in procuring the funds on my own, so I’ve been finding it difficult to devote myself to the sport the way I would like to,” she said.

Shiraiwa asked for 4 million yen by Jan. 15, 2019. But by Dec. 2, about 2,200 people had contributed nearly 13 million yen.

“I hope to make sure I will be able to deliver one result after another so I can live up to the expectations (of supporters),” Shiraiwa said to express her appreciation.

Many of her fans who contributed posted messages of encouragement for her.

A typical post goes along these lines: “I support your eagerness to carve out your own life through your own efforts.”

Shiraiwa is a second-year competitor in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series. During the current season, she finished fourth, her personal best, at the third Grand Prix event in Helsinki. But she ended up in fifth place at the Rostelecom Cup, the fifth Grand Prix event in Moscow.

Shiraiwa has yet to stand out from her peers, such as Marin Honda, 17.

Rika Kihira, 16, who made her debut in the Grand Prix series this season, won the NHK Trophy in Hiroshima and the Internationaux de France in Grenoble, the fourth and sixth events.

Kihira, Shiraiwa’s junior colleague at Kansai University’s Kaisers figure skating club, earned her berth at the Grand Prix Final, which opens in Vancouver this week, along with Satoko Miyahara and Kaori Sakamoto, who finished fourth and sixth at the Pyeongchang Olympics in February, respectively.

“I get positive inspiration (from Kihira), whom I have the pleasure of being able to train with in the same club,” Shiraiwa said. “I want to get on with my own training so I can catch up with her before the Olympic season.”

Given a popular perception that figure skating is an expensive sport, Takanobu Mori, who operates a crowdfunding website that specializes in sports, said it “may have come as a surprise that an up-and-coming skater called for support to fund her activities.”

The Japan Skating Federation established procedures for the use of crowdfunding platforms by skaters in the last fiscal year.

“Top athletes need substantial funding as JSF training expenses alone are no longer enough to support them,” said Hidehito Ito, head of the JSF figure skating committee. “We have been surprised that Shiraiwa managed to raise such a large amount."

(Takeo Yoshinaga contributed to this article.)