Japanese figure skating 2018-19 season news & updates

Tinami Amori

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I see that a 20 year old Miyahara, 4 times national champion, with grace, flow, PCS, came behind 18 and 16 year old ladies with high value technical elements. I think it is best to accept this trend in skating, and be realistic about it.
 

Marco

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I think sending Sakamoto, Miyahara and Kihira to 4CCs and Worlds is very logical based on Nationals and also the season so far.

Mihara needs a rebranding. She is clean and consistent but nothing in her program / skating is spectacular.

My heart is broken for Honda and I wonder if it is ever going to happen for her. Still early, I know, but the competition is THAT fierce.
 

all_empty

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Congrats on Sakamoto on her first national title, and the 4CC and World team members. Also congrats to Mihara, who will make a very respectable alternate (for some reason I have a feeling Miyahara might skip 4CC -- which I may attend).

Sakamoto is no slouch in skating skills, and her jumps are rightly rewarded under the +5 system (the 3Lo is spectacular). I think in a similar thread a season or two ago I predicted she would be the standout. I just don't care for her material at all, especially the free, which literally makes me fall asleep.

I haven't listened to all of Benoit Richaud's interview, but she just isn't an avant garde skater to me. Her "Moonlight Sonata" program was fantastic, and I could see her doing operas like Tosca. Or triumphant piano concertos like Midori Ito used to.

The world title is definitely within Kihira's reach if she lands three 3A. Given her age, she has a one-year senior advantage over the Russian wunderkinds, and can use that experience to build her reputation and experience (not that the wunderkinds are slouching). She's a bit like Sarah Hughes, who had a one-year advantage on the baby ballerinas, coupled with competitive fearlessness and high technical content. I predict great things for her.

I could tell from the warm-up that Miyahara was a bit unsettled, and the jumps were tight. She's definitely working on them and as with Honda, Medvedeva it's a work in progress. Still, she is artistically a class in her own in Japan.

I agree with Marco that Mihara needs a makeover, but I'm not quite sure which direction she should go in. She's very athletic, but her face is so youthful. Perhaps give her some of the exuberant music that Yuka Sato used to skate to and play up her speed (ditto for Sakamoto).

I hope Higuchi takes time to heal up because I actually think her music (particularly last year) suit her. Yokoi still looks like a junior even though she's older than Higuchi, Honda, and Shiraiwa.

Shiraiwa I think still has some potential. But Honda ... the biggest talent to come around in years ... I hope she can gain some consistency.
 

Marco

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I wish Sakamoto would take the Slutskaya route and emphasize her power, instead of focusing on lyrical programs only to highlight how gangly those arms are.
 

Sylvia

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Re-posting from the Shoma Uno fan thread:
During an interview right after FS Shoma revealed he sprained his right ankle when he was warming up on the floor during a morning official practice for SP. On the day he went to a doctor to take exams including MRI. His doctor said there will be pains but it won't aggravates too badly even if he skates. His trainer did his best to get his ankle recovered during the day between SP and FS, and he felt better today so he decided to participate in FS.

Anyways congrats to Shoma for his third National title in a row! Wish a quick and complete recovery for him!
...
Here is an article (in Japanese)
https://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2018/12/24/kiji/20181224s00079000265000c.html
Men's top 5:

GOLD - Shoma Uno 289.10 1 (102.06) [SP Video] 1 (187.04) [FS Video]
SILVER - Daisuke Takahashi 239.62 2 (88.52) [SP Video] 4 (151.10) [FS Video]
BRONZE - Keiji Tanaka 236.45 4 2 (157.13) [FS Video]
4 Kazuki Tomono 227.46 7 3 (154.37) [FS Video]
5 Koshiro Shimada 219.78 3 (80.46) [SP Video] 11

Full results/protocols are now published in English :https://www.jsfresults.com/National/2018-2019/fs_e/nationals/index.htm
 

rosewood

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https://twitter.com/WFS_JP/status/1077197123353927680
4CC
Men: Uno, Tanaka and Tomono (Sub: Yamamoto, Sato)
Ladies: Sakamoto, Kihira and Mihara (Sub: Higuchi, Yamashita)
Pairs: Suzaki/Kihara
Ice Dance: Komatsubara/Koleto

https://twitter.com/WFS_JP/status/1077197420302262272
Jr Worlds
Men: Tsuboi and Shimada (Sub: Kagiyama, Sato S)
Ladies: Yokoi, Kawabata and Shiraiwa (Sub: Araki, Naganawa, Aoki)
*Shiraiwa will be sent to a Jr competition to get Jr minimums.
Pairs: Miura/Ichihashi
Ice Dance: Takanami/Ikeda

https://twitter.com/WFS_JP/status/1077198201210298368
Universiade
Men: Tomono, Nakamura and Sato H (Sub: Suzuki, Kushida)
Ladies: Mihara and Takeno (Sub: Hongo, Oba)

ETA:
https://twitter.com/WFS_JP/status/1077198459239723009
Newcomer of the year award at Nats went to Kagiyama (men) and Matsubara (ladies).
 
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Clutz

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Tinami Amori

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And that Nationals proved he was not going to be a player.
I would not phrase it this way myself. Dai won Silver. Uno rightfully in 1st (but with injury), Hanyu out with injury. The world medals are up for grab (realistically) between Uno, Hanyu and Chen. Dai, with his pluses and minuses, on the level with Kolyada, Kovtun, Zhou, Jin, with their pluses and minuses (and if all named crush, then even Brown). Dai would be a strong Top-5 prospect, imo.
 

Clutz

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I would not phrase it this way myself. Dai won Silver. Uno rightfully in 1st (but with injury), Hanyu out with injury. The world medals are up for grab (realistically) between Uno, Hanyu and Chen. Dai, with his pluses and minuses, on the level with Kolyada, Kovtun, Zhou, Jin, with their pluses and minuses (and if all named crush, then even Brown). Dai would be a strong Top-5 prospect, imo.
Well I didn't phrase it to be rude...just brief. I can't agree though that DT would be any sort of contender. While his component marks were great, his overall score would not have even medaled at Russian Nationals. His technical score in the long program was 34 points behind SU and was around 7th or 8th overall. I think it's funny though that he said he wanted younger skaters when Japan is sending the same team to worlds as basically the last two seasons.
 

all_empty

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Whoa, my prediction that Miyahara would skip 4CC's came true.

I must be on the same wavelength with Dave Lease and Jonathan Beyer as we touched on almost all the same points.

The only thing I didn't expect was Shiraiwa going to Jr. Worlds. She's gone twice before -- but didn't go last year as she was a "full senior."

She's very likely going to place in the top 10, but more importantly, help Japan be the top 1-3 nations (which will in all likelihood be Russia, Japan, Korea) to secure 2 spots in all the JGPs next year.
 

cohkaix

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One thing I still don't get about Shiraiwa being sent to JWC: it says she's required to get the TES minimum for JWC. But since she's already in the GP competitions, her scores should have already passed the minimum for JWC. In this case, she'll still have to go to another jr level competition before JWC?
 

rosewood

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One thing I still don't get about Shiraiwa being sent to JWC: it says she's required to get the TES minimum for JWC. But since she's already in the GP competitions, her scores should have already passed the minimum for JWC. In this case, she'll still have to go to another jr level competition before JWC?
Yes, she needs to get minimums in Jr field in 2018-2019 or 2017-2018 season. She's skated only in Sr field for these two seasons, so yes she needs to go to a Jr competition to get Jr minimums.
https://www.isu.org/communications/18349-isu-communication-2205/file
Likewise, the required Minimum Technical Elements Score for the Short Program/Short (Rhythm) Dance and the Free Skating/Free Dance segment to participate in the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships can only be obtained in International Junior Competitions.

The Minimum Technical Elements Score (not including Component Scores) is a Technical Score and must have been reached in an ISU recognized International Competition (as per Article 39, paragraph 7 of the ISU Constitution and Rule 107, paragraphs 1 to 10 of the ISU General Regulations) during the ongoing or immediately preceding season in both segments, Short Program/Short (Rhythm) Dance and Free Skating/Free Dance (See ISU Special Regulations Single & Pair Skating Ice Dance, Rule 378, paragraph 3).
 

Sylvia

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JSF has posted their selections for 2019 Worlds, 4CC, Junior Worlds & the 29th Universiade Winter Games on their website (subs are not included but are listed in rosewood's posts above): https://www.skatingjapan.or.jp/whatsnew/detail.php?id=3752&kyodo=0

Here are 2 Kyodo news articles in English:
Uno captures 3rd straight national title, Takahashi 2nd
Hanyu, Uno, Tanaka earn berths for 2019 worlds in Japan

Jack Gallagher's recap of the Men's FS includes quotes from Uno, Takahashi, Tanaka, Kazuki Tomono and Sota Yamamoto: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/sports...onal-title-daisuke-takahashi-finishes-second/
“I twisted my right leg on Friday while warming up for the official practice, which made it painful to wear my boot,” Uno stated. “Despite the injury I was able to believe in myself in both the short program and free skate.”
Uno rejected the advice of coaches Machiko Yamada and Mihoko Higuchi who wanted him to pull out of the event.
“My coaches wanted me to withdraw from the competition, but I told them, ‘This is my way. This is the way Shoma Uno is,” Uno recalled. “I debated (withdrawing) but I wanted to skate. I guess it was pride.”
“I want to keep improving and be able to land a quad no matter what I am skating in,” Takahashi added.
Even though he competed for years at the highest level, the 2010 world champion admitted that he had a case of the jitters on this night.
“The nerves almost made me want to run away before the free skate,” Takahashi confessed.
Uno admitted his injury made it difficult to enjoy competing with Takahashi.
“I could not enjoy it due to the injury, so I want him to compete in this event again next year,” Uno said.
“This season I struggled so much at each competition, but Daisuke said he wanted to compete with me, so I’m really inspired by him,” Tanaka said. “I enjoyed these nationals because Daisuke is here, but yet it was hard and almost painful for me.”
Fan-favorite Sota Yamamoto was ninth with 212.69 and took time afterward to reflect on his season to this point.
“Tonight was better than the short program, my body moved well,” Yamamoto noted. “I experienced so many new things this year, my first in the senior Grand Prix series. Many skaters of the same age are doing well in international competitions, so I do feel I am behind. I want to improve to compete with them.”
 
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Whoa, my prediction that Miyahara would skip 4CC's came true.

I must be on the same wavelength with Dave Lease and Jonathan Beyer as we touched on almost all the same points.

The only thing I didn't expect was Shiraiwa going to Jr. Worlds. She's gone twice before -- but didn't go last year as she was a "full senior."

She's very likely going to place in the top 10, but more importantly, help Japan be the top 1-3 nations (which will in all likelihood be Russia, Japan, Korea) to secure 2 spots in all the JGPs next year.
I don't think she chose to skip 4CC, she just wasn't selected for 4CC. Japan has done this quite often in the past, to have 4th place finisher go to 4CC and 3rd place go to worlds.
 

Dobre

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The only thing I didn't expect was Shiraiwa going to Jr. Worlds. She's gone twice before -- but didn't go last year as she was a "full senior."
Shiraiwa is currently 19th on the World Standing List. Junior Worlds could help her stay top 24 and earn a GP next season, as well as help Japan earn JGP/Junior Worlds spots for next year.

(Yamashita is currently 14th on the SB list so likely to remain top 24 that way).
 

rosewood

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Shiraiwa is currently 19th on the World Standing List. Junior Worlds could help her stay top 24 and earn a GP next season, as well as help Japan earn JGP/Junior Worlds spots for next year.

(Yamashita is currently 14th on the SB list so likely to remain top 24 that way).
That's my thought too, and I heard Shiraiwa herself wanted to go to JW.
______

Anyways Mako Yamashita had ups and downs this season and it was rather an unfortunate season for her: at the early stage of this season she was still struggling with the back injury that she got in the end of last season, and prior to CoR she got sick/fever and it made her away from the rink for a while as well as she had a shoes trouble at CoR. Re the second half of this season she might be sent to an international B comp in the Sr field. Domestically she's scheduled to skate at the all high school championships. (entry list in Japanese) Wish she'll skate well in those comps and it'll give her a good momentum toward next season.
 

cohkaix

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That was unfortunate in Mako's case. But I don't think it's going to help much with her WS by competing at another B comp. The main reason is that she already had two CS early on in the season. But luckily with her good results from SC, it should be okay to keep her standing within SB top 24.

A second question I'm curious about but no one really touches upon is: why Satoko declined the 4CC spot (as I've read from one twitter report with news link that Satoko was originally on 4CC list but she declined. Not quite sure if this is true but I think it's more reasonable than guessing that JSF didn't select Satoko for 4CC.)
 

rosewood

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@cohkaix, I searched the tweet you mentioned, and so far I found two tweets which said Satoko declined. One of the twitter users apologized saying it was his/her misunderstanding. The other one sited this newspaper article as the source, but I don't see any part of this article says she was selected for 4CC. (Actually it says JFS announced Team Japan members for Worlds and 4CC, and Satoko is included in them. It doesn't say Satoko was selected for both of Worlds and 4CC.) I guess the second twitter user also misread this article.

My impression was JFS thought Mai Mihara deserved to get a spot for 4CC and they split Worlds team and 4CC team as they often does like they gave Olys to Kaori and Worlds to Wakaba last season. Satoko was the one to be kicked out from 4CC since she placed the third at Nats.
 

Sylvia

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The top four senior internationals points-wise count towards WS, and Yamashita only has two.
Yamashita (currently #24 in WS) already has filled her 2 Challenger or Senior B boxes for this season and could only add 7 points if she wins a Senior B in early 2019. Also in her favor (besides her current SB ranking of #14), she will not lose many points (284 total) when her 2016-17 season WS points are dropped before the start of next season (compared to Marin Honda who will lose 631 WS points, for example).

ETA current top 13 on SB total scores list (WS ranking included if currently in top 24):

2 233.12 Rika KIHIRA JPN ISU Grand Prix Final 2018/19; WS #17 - 4CC & Worlds
4 219.71 Satoko MIYAHARA JPN ISU GP Skate America 2018; WS #7(tie) - Worlds
7 213.90 Kaori SAKAMOTO JPN ISU GP Skate America 2018; WS #7(tie) - 4CC & Worlds
8 209.22 Mai MIHARA JPN ISU CS Nebelhorn Trophy 2018; WS #5 - 4CC
14 203.06 Mako YAMASHITA JPN ISU GP Skate Canada International 2018; WS #24
26 191.46 Yuna SHIRAIWA JPN ISU GP Helsinki 2018; WS #19 - JR Worlds
29 188.61 Marin HONDA JPN ISU GP Internationaux de France 2018; WS #23
32 184.09 Yuhana YOKOI JPN ISU JGP Armenian Cup 2018 - JR Worlds
36 181.29 Wakaba HIGUCHI JPN ISU GP Skate Canada International 2018; WS #4
44 176.14 Nana ARAKI JPN ISU JGP Czech Skate 2018
45 175.19 Shiika YOSHIOKA JPN ISU JGP Czech Skate 2018
46 174.96 Rion SUMIYOSHI JPN ISU JGP Canada 2018
48 173.84 Tomoe KAWABATA JPN ISU JGP Bratislava 2018 - JR Worlds

There are 12 JPN men currently on the SB list (WS ranking included if currently in top 24):
1 297.12 Yuzuru HANYU JPN ISU GP Helsinki 2018; WS #3 - Worlds
3 277.25 Shoma UNO JPN ISU GP Skate Canada International 2018; WS #1 - 4CC & Worlds
16 238.73 Kazuki TOMONO JPN ISU GP Rostelecom Cup 2018; WS #20 - 4CC
31 221.92 Keiji TANAKA JPN ISU CS 26th Ondrej Nepela Trophy 2018; WS #18 - 4CC & Worlds
34 220.45 Koshiro SHIMADA JPN ISU JGP Cup of Austria 2018 - JR Worlds
40 213.40 Sota YAMAMOTO JPN ISU GP NHK Trophy 2018
45 210.31 Mitsuki SUMOTO JPN ISU JGP Bratislava 2018
57 205.15 Ryuju HINO JPN ISU CS Finlandia Trophy Espoo 2018
59 202.02 Yuma KAGIYAMA JPN ISU JGP Armenian Cup 2018
71 191.80 Yuto KISHINA JPN ISU JGP Amber Cup 2018
80 185.18 Hiroaki SATO JPN ISU GP NHK Trophy 2018
114 165.19 Sena MIYAKE JPN ISU JGP Canada 2018
no SB yet: Tatsuya TSUBOI - JR Worlds

(Edited to add WS rankings of current top 24)
 
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all_empty

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I don't think she chose to skip 4CC, she just wasn't selected for 4CC. Japan has done this quite often in the past, to have 4th place finisher go to 4CC and 3rd place go to worlds.
Thanks, to be honest I assumed she had declined when I posted. I guess we still don't know?

Either way, good for Mihara as she often does well at 4CCs and needs to be competition ready if there are any withdrawals.
 

Sylvia

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2018 JPN figure skating recap article re. Hanyu, Kihira, Uno: https://english.kyodonews.net/news/...ihira-carve-out-place-at-sports-pinnacle.html
Yuzuru Hanyu's various battles with injury and triumphant ascent back to his former place atop the world captivated figure skating aficionados in 2018, but the global megastar was far from Japan's only show in town.

Rika Kihira emerged from relative obscurity to separate herself from a pack of promising young female skaters, while the consistent Shoma Uno showed he will be a long-term presence and threat on the world stage.
ETA Jack Gallagher's latest column (focus on Kaori Sakamoto & Benoit Richaud, with a little bit about Ayako Hosoda and her 3A): https://www.japantimes.co.jp/sports...ion-no-surprise-gifted-choreographer-richaud/
Excerpts:
I spoke with Benoit Richaud, who choreographed Sakamoto’s lovely free skate to “The Piano” this season, via telephone this week and he seconded my feelings about his prized pupil.
Richaud was first approached by Kaori’s coaches (Sonoko Nakano and Mitsuko Graham) at the 2016 world juniors in Taipei about working with the young skater.
“The people who say she is just a jumper, I’m thinking, ‘Do you really watch Kaori Sakamoto?’ Benoit stated. “You cannot say she is only a jumper. I think you can say she is one of the skaters who has her own personality. It means that she looks like no one else, and this is something really unique.”
Benoit, a former junior ice dancer for France, remembered back to his first interaction with Sakamoto.
“When I first started working with Kaori, nobody really talked about her,” Richaud recalled. “When I did my first practice with her (in 2016), I remember saying to a friend, this girl may be a champion.”
One of the revelations of the nationals was the performance of Ayaka Hosoda, the 23-year-old Kansai University student, who landed three triple axels between her short program and free skate and came in eighth.
Hosoda, who didn’t even qualify for the nationals last season, has been around for a while, but her mastery of the triple axel is what has vaulted her into the spotlight.
She detailed how she learned the jump by practicing daily with Kihira. Both are coached by Mie Hamada and Yamato Tamura.
 
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