From December 22 – 25, this year’s Japan Figure Skating Championships took place in Osaka. Shoma Uno and Satoko Miyahara won their portion of the event. This competition determined who Japan will be sending to the Four Continents Championships in Gangneung, South Korea in February and the World Championships in Helsinki, Finland in March.
With four-time reigning champion Yuzuru Hanyu out of competition due to the flu, Shoma Uno won the men’s portion for the first time with a total score of 280.41. His short program was given a score of 88.05, the second best of the night, 2.29 points behind Takahito Mura. Shoma said that he couldn’t focus after a wobbled landing on his opening quad flip prevented him from completing a combination jump. He later fell on a quad toe loop. “I had to think it’s another start even if I miss my (quad) flip, but I couldn’t switch my mind.”
Shoma’s free skate received the best score of the night with a score of 192.36. Although he wobbled on his landings early on, Shoma made up for it with a solid finish that included a triple axel and a high-difficulty, three-jump combination. “My landings were not as good as I thought they should be in the first half,” he said, having had a vision of his error-strewn performance in last season’s Worlds — where he finished seventh. “I’m really glad it didn’t end like the Worlds.”
Keiji Tanaka came in second place with a total score of 249.38. He had the third best short program with a score of 85.68. Keiji had the second best free skate with a score of 163.70.
Takahito Mura came in third place with a total score of 242.11. His short program was the best one, receiving a score of 90.34. He pulled off a nearly flawless routine, nailing his opening quadruple toe loop and a triple lutz / triple toe loop combination in what he described as “a comfortable performance.” “The first half of the season really hasn’t gone well, but I’m ready to battle it out tomorrow as I finished in good shape today,” Takahito said. “I’m looking forward myself in terms of how far I can add on to today’s 90 points.” He continued, “I felt the pressure when the crowd went quiet before the start of my step sequence, but the whole place got going in the second half (of the performance) and I’m pleased with that.” Takahito’s free skate received a score of 151.77, the third best of the men’s event.
Satoko Miyahara won the women’s event for third year in a row with a total score of 214.87. She is the first woman to win three straight national titles since Mao Asada won four from 2006 to 2009. Satoko’s short program was given a score of 76.49, the highest of the night, and new personal best. Satoko nailed all her jumps including a triple-triple combination. Afterwards, she said, “I’m happy as it was the season’s best short program. I could calm my emotions well and perform. Hopefully I can give my best-ever free skate, too.”
Satoko’s free skate was also the best of the night, with a score of 138.38. “I wanted to perform better, so I feel some regret,” she later said. “Still, I’m glad I was able to keep things together. I’ve grown since last year, but still I want to work harder in practice as I go forward.”
Wakaba Higuchi came in second place with a total score of 199.49. She had the third best short program with a score of 68.74, 0.46 points behind Rika Hongo. Wakaba had the fourth best free skate with a score of 130.75, 0.32 points behind Yuna Shiraiwa.
Mai Mihara came in third place with a total score of 198.17. She had the fifth best short program with a score of 65.91, 1.61 points behind Marin Honda. Mai had the second best free skate with a score of 132.26.
Not so lucky was Mao Asada, who finished in career-worst 12th place. Her short program was given a score of 60.32, placing her in eighth. Her opening triple axel was downgraded to a single. Her free skate received a score of 114.10, placing her in 12th. When assked if she would compete next season, she said, “Yes. That’s right.” She added, “I wasn’t able to put together my best performances in either the short program or the free, so there’s a lot of frustration.”
Sumire Suto / Francis Boudreau Audet won the pairs competition for the second year in a row with a score of 160.25. They were followed by Miu Suzaki / Ryuichi Kihara (146.25), and Marin Ono / Wesley Killing (136.06).
Kana Muramoto / Chris Reed won the ice dancing competition for the second consecutive year with a score of 158.36. They were followed by Emi Hirai / Marien de la Asuncion (140.97) in second place for the sixth year in a row, and Misato Komatsubara / Tim Koleto (125.12).
After the competition the World Championships teams was announced. The team is composed of Yuzuru Hanyu, Shoma Uno, Keiji Tanaka, Satoko Miyahara, Wakaba Higuchi, Mai Mihara, Sumire Suto / Francis Boudreau Audet, and Kana Muramoto / Chris Reed.