Japanese figure skating 2020-21 season news & updates

Sylvia

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JSF announced the Worlds team and following Nationals:

Worlds team: Hanyu, Uno, Kagiyama; Kihira, Sakamoto, Miyahara; Miura / Kihara; Komatsubara / Komatsubara (aka Tim Koleto)

Substitutes: Tanaka, Tomono, Sato; Matsuike (if she can get MTS), Higuchi, Mihara; Muramoto / Takahashi (if they can get MTS)
Link to the official document on the JSF website (in Japanese): https://www.skatingjapan.or.jp/common/img/info/world_2021.pdf
Are the men's & ladies' alternates listed in order (1st/2nd/3rd)?
 

Tak

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During 20-21 season, perhaps due to cancellation of other sports, Fuji TV Network covered Japanese Domestic Skating events much better than previous seasons. They (mainly carried by their cable channels) covered Japan Novices, Juniors, and Seniors, Sectionals (such as Tokyo Championships), East and West Japan Regionals. They also covered Domestic B Competitions such as Junior High, Senior High and Collegiate Championships. Most coverage did not have any commentary or TES Box, just the skating and total scores. Of all these events, the one that surprised me most was Japan Novice Championships (Oct 24-25).
"Novice" are skaters whose "skating age" is below 13. The skaters at this age group seemed to have unlimited energy, but I remembered from 15 years ago, they were doing double jumps and if they were to land that pesky 2A, that would get standing ovation from me.
Fuji showed complete skates of only the top four finishers of Novice A (11 and over) Ladies. Perhaps due to nerves, two of the top skaters fell on the initial jump, that pesky 2A. However, once they got into their programs they were all landing 3Lz/3T or 3flip/3T, 3loops, 2A/3T...all top four were simply amazing. Then it dawned on me (remember no commetary nor TES Box), I went back to those initial "2A" and I started to shake, since they were trying the 3A! Perhaps "q" or "UR", but they were really close to being landed. Kudos to Mao Shimada (Gold) and Ami Nakai (Bronze: Nakai actually landed her first competitive 3A at Niigata Prefectural Championships in December).
Ayumi Shibayama (Silver) was the 1st performer at JPN Senior Nationals Ex (Medalists on Ice) and IMHO had the funniest routine. She comes out in full wedding dress and gets "jilted at the altar" and then goes on Kill Bill-esque romp...the energy was unbelievable. The jilting groom was played by Lucas Honda, I think, and he says NO, then gets "Get out of my life" shove and high kick, truly above and beyond the call of duty type of a role.The fourth was Ikura Kushida with not only good jumps, but also happens to be magazine cover level beauty. She is rather tall and her coach Ms. Hamada is reportedly trying to have her take up Ice Dancing. Fifth was Sakurako Daimon who was only about one point behind. Of these five, all except Nakai is training in Kinoshita Academy.
It seems that Ms Hamada (Kinoshita Academy) has gone full tilt Eteri method. IMHO, long before Eteri method became famous, around 2000, Ms Monma (Nagoya based coach) held advanced jumping group lessons and her star students went on to win 4 World titles between 2007 and 2011, Miki and Mao. It has worked before. Considering their current age, their target seems to be not the 2022 OLY but 2026 OLY.
 
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maureenfarone

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Some time during NHK or Japanese Nationals I read a comment about another Japanese Ladies moving to Lambiel. He alread coaches Rika and Shoma but I can't recall who the name of the additional skater.

Anyone recall who else might be joining Lambiel?
 

Sylvia

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Before Nationals Rika Kihira was notified of her acceptance into Waseda University's School of Human Sciences (e-school correspondence course, same program that Hanyu graduated from this past September) and she revealed the news publicly on Dec. 28th: https://www.nikkansports.com/sports/news/202012280000794.html
The article also mentions she plans to return to Switzerland in mid-January.
 

Sylvia

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Nagoya Figure Skating Festival articles are listed here: https://www.nikkansports.com/sports/figure/news/

A selection...

Shoma Uno did two 3A in his "Oboe Concerto" exhibition number, his encore number was his "Great Spirit" SP, and he landed a 4T in the finale: https://www.nikkansports.com/sports/news/202101040000829.html

Yuma Kagiyama performed his "Take Five" SP from earlier this season: https://www.nikkansports.com/sports/news/202101040000828.html

Satoko Miyahara performed to her "Egyptian Disco" SP music from last season: https://www.nikkansports.com/sports/news/202101040000768.html

Mai Mihara skated her exhibition to "Fireworks": https://www.nikkansports.com/sports/news/202101040000753.html

Marin Honda performed her SP to "The Giving": https://www.nikkansports.com/sports/news/202101040000718.html

Rika shared some fun group selfies: https://www.instagram.com/p/CJoDPhin1LY/
 

Sylvia

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Sylvia

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Seijin no Hi (Coming of Age Day) celebrates those who have turned 20, becoming adults in the eyes of the Japanese law, and is marked by an annual public holiday on the second Monday in January. This year’s Coming of Age Day covers anyone reaching this milestone birthday between April 2, 2020 and April 1, 2021.

Kaori Sakamoto (4 photos, 1 clip): https://www.instagram.com/p/CJ5CvyuJxqx/
Wakaba Higuchi: [eta: broken link removed; click on rosewood's link below]
 
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miffy

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I read that parts of Japan were declared to be in a state of emergency again. Does this affect skaters training at all or are the rinks staying open this time?
 

rosewood

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I read that parts of Japan were declared to be in a state of emergency again. Does this affect skaters training at all or are the rinks staying open this time?
At this point, yes rinks are open. The targets this time are mainly bars/restaurants where people gather to have drinking-parties/meals together, where people take their masks away. Those places are asked to be closed after 8 pm. Rinks along with other indoor sports venues are not supposed to be closed (at this point.) Indoor sports events such as Sumo, are still on-going under the restrictions i.e. the size of spectators should be less than half of the venue's capacity or 5K (either of the smaller size to be chosen). JPN government is monitoring how the infections are going. Restrictions can be changed depending on the environments anyway.

So far Japan's biggest metropolitan area consisted of Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama was declared to be in a stage of emergency. The second biggest metropolitan area consisted of Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo is to be declared very soon (probably on 13 Jan). The third area consisted of Aichi and Gifu is under consideration.
 

Sylvia

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Utana Yoshida/Shingo Nishiyama's joint account (who runs this one?) has a message in Japanese: https://www.instagram.com/p/CKK6LC7JwL9/

Machine translation:
Thank you for supporting the Yoshida Nishiyama group so far. This time, Utana Yoshida and Shingo Nishiyama have decided to dissolve the partnership due to the difference in direction between the two. The Yoshida Nishiyama group did their best thanks to the great support of the fans, coaches, federations and families. I'm really thankful to you. The two will take different paths from now on, but we will make further efforts based on our experience so far. We hope that you will continue to watch over us with a warm feeling.
 

Hanna

Skating junkie
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Oh no, that's really sad news. :( I loved these two so much and they definitely had potential! Would be interesting to know what they mean by "difference in direction".

All the best to both in the future! :)
 

PRlady

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Was this the couple who were at Lake Placid JGP last year? If so, that’s terrible. I really liked them.
 

Gris

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Utana has made a post too and said she would also continue in ice dance.


Machine translation:

Up until now, the two years I've been ice dancing with Shin-kun have been a lot of fun and I've had a lot of memories. I was happy to be able to do my favorite ice dance with Shin-kun ✨ @shinnnnn_gooo Thank you so far 🙏 And I am very grateful to all the fans, federations, coaches, trainers and families for their support. Thank you very much. I will continue to devote my life to ice dancing! !! ⛸❤️
 

Kateri

void beast
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That's such a shame, they were a lovely team. Glad they're both continuing, at least, hope they find good partners. :(
 

Tak

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To commemorate the conclusion of JPN Nationals, the newest edition of major sports magazine "Number" devoted half of the pages to Figure Skating. More than half is covering the "King" Hanyu, but there are articles on Shoma, Kagiyama, Shun Sato, Rika Kihira, Mai Mihara & Kaori Sakamoto, Muramoto/Takahashi and Nathan Chen. The final article was facinating for me since this four page article was on Mie Hamada and Kinoshita Academy.
The gist of Hamada Article is as follows;
Kinoshita Academy was brainchild of Mie Hamada and Kinoshita Group CEO and the objective was to create organization capable of training and nurturing the next generation of very young skaters to catch up with Russians. When All-year Kyoto Ice Rink opened in December 2019, Hamada's concept gained momentum since she was now able to use quite ample ice time made available. Ice time is often limited to late nights and early mornings in normal commercial rinks, but at Kyoto Rink, priority is given to Kinoshita Academy skaters, so that they can obtain ice times to allow normal school attendance as well as elite level on ice coaching.
Because of the *********, skating competitions decreased dramatically. To allow skaters to obtain competitive experience, since June 2020 twice monthly "Adrian Trophy" is ongoing at Kyoto. Hamada explained, "Adrian is the name of Coach Yamato Tamura's pet pooch. (laughs) It is an mixed event with Mens, Ladies, Novice, Junior, Senior all competing with handicaps so that it is a level playing field. Since it is a training competition, there are deductions for pouting or annoyed look during the routine. Deduction is assessed if you do not get up immediately from a fall. There are bonuses too. No technical mistakes will get you bonus points, also if you skate passionately."
The jumps are taught much earlier than before, with twelve year olds going for 3A and quads at Kinoshita Academy. Hamada opines "It is better to start early for quads and 3A. Pre-teens are quite fearless. There is a large hurdle if you try to incorporate these difficult jumps in the program when you are older, because other jumps suffer. If you are used to having quads or 3A in the program, then it is much easier to incorporate them. All our girls practice 3A. Some are starting on quads. One can land 4T on one foot." Hamada continued "We are very careful on how we proceed with difficult jumps. We do not allow it to be practiced every day. Doing different types of jumps reduces the impact or strain on the body. It is also combined with training on muscle strength of body core. If there is weakness there, it will cause injuries."
Hamada trained Satoko Miyahara and Rika Kihira both well known for their humility and perseverence. Hamada said "As with all sports, there are pitfalls when a skater starts to feel she has attained top level status. Since Figure Skating is so popular in Japan, it is both gratifying and scary to me. Athletes gain that momentary glory, but the foundation is in repetitive drudgery of basic training. In our sport, there are lot of recreational skaters too, so it is important for me to train my students to be compassionate and be a better person through the sport of Figure Skating." She noted that one of her students Sakurako Daimon had problems at Japan Novice and came in fifth and failed to get JSF invitation to skate at Junior Nationals. "What made me happy was that she went up to the skaters who made the podium and gave them heartfelt congratulations, and the next morning she was promptly at her practice more determined to be better."
2020 December, Rika Kihira came to Kyoto rink after her quarantine. Hamada supported her during the final two weeks before JPN Nationals. Hamada recounts, "The problem she had was how to do quad and 3A within the same program. Since the upper body usage is quite different between the two, I advised her to flip her mental switch from quad to 3A, during the 15 seconds between the two jumps."
The final objective is to be competitive with the World's best. Hamada says "We are still far behind the Russians. Sometimes I feel that we made some progress in catching up, but then they just zoom away leaving us in the dust. However, we Japanese are tenacious lot. We will plod along nice and steady, patiently waiting for that window of opportunity."
 
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Meoima

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A strong earthquake that struck off the coast of Japan, injuring more than 100 people, was an aftershock of the devastating 2011 quake that sparked the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, the nation’s meteorological agency has said.

Saturday night’s earthquake had a 7.3 magnitude and struck off the coast of Fukushima prefecture at a depth of 60km (36 miles). It triggered widespread power outages, but there appeared to be no major damage and no tsunami warning was issued.

It hit just weeks before the 10-year anniversary of Japan’s triple disaster, on 11 March 2011, when the strongest recorded earthquake in Japan’s history triggered a tsunami that laid waste to entire towns and villages and caused a triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
From https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/feb/13/japan-earthquake-strikes-near-eastern-coast

Anyway, due to this earthquake, Sendai rink in the region is temporarily closed until further notice
Damage to Ice Rink Sendai due to the earthquake. The Sendai rink will be closed until they can determine the building is safe. Probably all ice rinks in earthquake-affected areas, including in regions outside Tohoku, will be temporarily closed until they can be sure facilities are safe. Aftershocks are also a problem.
From https://twitter.com/fsnanchara/status/1360630192406810629?s=20

This issue does not just affect Yuzuru who is currently training coachless (his rink in Sendai is currently closed until the end of February and no one knows if it will be safe to reopen the rink), but it might also affect all the other rinks in the same region. I hope the skaters in the Tohoku region and even outside regions will soon settle down the practice locations. Worlds is coming and they need a place to practice.
 
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Sylvia

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Worlds team: Hanyu, Uno, Kagiyama; Kihira, Sakamoto, Miyahara; Miura / Kihara; Komatsubara / Komatsubara (aka Tim Koleto)

Substitutes: Tanaka, Tomono, Sato; Matsuike (if she can get MTS), Higuchi, Mihara; Muramoto / Takahashi (if they can get MTS)
JSF's 2/24/21 press release noted that Muramoto/Takahashi declined the alternate spot (did not submit videos for ISU TES evaluation) and Rikako Fukase/Eichu Cho [Oliver Zhang] replaced them: https://skatingjapan.or.jp/whatsnew/detail.php?id=79

Rika Kihira recently attended a training camp at the World arena in Colorado Springs (pictured with choreographer Catarina Lindgren) and shared clips of her landing 3A+3T and 3A+1Eu+3S combo there: https://www.instagram.com/p/CMGKScuHJyH/
 
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