From December 24 – 27, this year’s Japan Figure Skating Championships took place in Sapporo. Yuzuru Hanyu and Satoko Miyahara both retained their titles, the fourth time in a row for Yuzuru and the second consecutive time for Satoko. This competition determined who Japan will be sending to the Four Continents Championships in Taipei, Taiwan in February and the World Championships in Boston, Massachusetts in March.
Yuzuru Hanyu won the men’s portion of the Japan Figure Skating Championships with a total score of 286.36. He had the best short program, with a score of 102.63. He fell on his opening quad salchow. “Being honest I’m really frustrated, but was rated highly with the score. It feels as if I’m being told I can do better. I’ll shed light on things that need reflection,” he said afterward. “I don’t feel fatigue. In this string of games I was aiming to perform without mistakes under any circumstance, and that’s something I couldn’t achieve today.”
The next day, Yuzuru had the highest scoring free skate, with a score of 183.73. He fell on his second quad toe loop and the following triple axel. “I’m frustrated, seething even. I wasn’t overawed by the atmosphere or giving into the pressure, but it was definitely a bad performance,” he later said. “The most important thing is the world championships. I’ll keep going to make sure I don’t put in a performance like this again.”
Shoma Uno took second place at the national championships for the second year in a row, with a total score of 267.15. His short program received a score of 97.94, the second best of the night. “I’m relieved as I had lots of mistakes in the short skate,” Shoma said afterwards. “I got a score way higher than expected, but there were things I could have done more and I don’t feel I’ve given everything.”
The following day, Shoma has third best free skate. It received a score of 169.21. He doubled his opening quad toe loop, and then doubled another quad toe loop that he put in place to make up for this first one that was doubled. “I failed in my jumps but kept skating aggressively,” Shoma later said. “I wanted to win as the worlds was at stake, and I just skated without caring too much about other things.”
Takahito Mura came in third place with a total score of 263.46. His short program received a score of 93.26, a personal best. His free skate was the second best of the night with a score of 170.20. He had a hand down on his opening quad toe loop and later singles his tripled axel. Afterwards, Takahito said, “This might be my capability at the moment. I’m happy I could hold on mentally despite the early setbacks.”
Satoko Miyahara won the women’s portion of the Japan Figure Skating Championships with a total score of 212.83. She had the best short program, with a score of 73.24. “I executed the opening triple combination better than I imagined and I could skate with good feeling,” Satoko said. “I was aiming to top 70 (points) so I’m a bit relieved.”
The following day, she had the best free skate of the night with a score of 139.59. She later stated, “I had some difficult moments, but I want to do my best at the worlds. More and more, I want to add confidence and power in order to perform even better.”
Wakaba Higuchi came in second with a total score of 195.35. Her short program received a score of 67.48, the third best of the event. Her free skate received a score of 127.87, again the third best. “I was able to put on my best performance of the season, and do everything I had been working on in practice. This has been a confidence boost,” she said. “With next year in mind, I have identified some things I need to address.” She is too young to compete in senior international competitions so she was not in contention to go to the upcoming Four Continents Championships and the World Championships.
Mao Asada came in third place with a total score of 193.75. She had the fifth best short program, with a score of 62.03. She stepped out her triple axel and then under-rotated the following triple flip. Mao, who opted for a less difficult components program, later said, “My motivation is going down a bit. It hasn’t gone well in recent tournaments and I’m not being able (to feel confident).”
Her free skate was the second best of night, receiving a score of 131.72. She fell on the triple axel. “I made some mistakes, so I am not satisfied with this, but I did all I was capable of at this time,” she said. “I have to take this one step at a time. Now I get in more and more practice time so I can do better at the worlds.”
Sumire Suto / Francis Boudreau Audet won the pairs competition with a score of 149.55. They were followed by Marin Ono / Wesley Killing (133.22), and Miu Suzaki / Ryuichi Kihara (126.12).
Kana Muramoto / Chris Reed won the ice dancing competition with a score of 147.08. They were followed by Emi Hirai / Marien de la Asuncion (141.63), and Ibuki Mori / Kentaro Suzuki (110.56).
After the competition the Four Continents Championships and the World Championships teams were announced. The Four Continents Championships team is composed of Shoma Uno, Takahito Mura, fourth place finisher Keiji Tanaka, Satoko Miyahara, Mao Asada, fourth place finisher Rika Hongo, Sumire Suto / Francis Boudreau Audet, Kana Muramoto / Chris Reed, and Emi Hirai / Marien de la Asuncion. First alternates are seventh place finisher Daisuke Murakami and sixth place finisher Kanako Murakami, while second alternates fifth place finisher Takahiko Kozuka and seventh place finisher Yuka Nagai.
The World Championships team is composed of Yuzuru Hanyu, Shoma Uno, Satoko Miyahara, Mao Asada, Rika Hongo, and Sumire Suto / Francis Boudreau Audet. The ice dancing members are to be announced. First alternates are Takahito Mura and Kanako Murakami, while second alternates Daisuke Murakami and Yuka Nagai.