Japanese figure skating 2021-22 season news & updates

Sylvia

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JSF has published links to their 2022 Olympics/Worlds/4CC/ Junior Worlds assignments here: https://www.skatingjapan.or.jp/whatsnew/detail.php?id=132

2022 Winter Olympics https://www.skatingjapan.or.jp/common/img/info/owg_2022.pdf
Men: Yuzuru Hanyu, Shoma Uno, Yuma Kagiyama
Women: Kaori Sakamoto, Wakaba Higuchi, Mana Kawabe
Pair: Riku Miura/Ryuichi Kihara
Ice Dance: Misato Komatsubara/Tim Koleto

Men's alternates: Kao Miura (S4/J1), Kazuki Tomono (S5), Sena Miyake (S6)
Women's alternates: Mai Mihara (S4), Satoko Miyahara (S5), Rino Matsuike (S7)
Ice Dance alternate: Kana Muramoto/Daisuke Takahashi (S2)

2022 World Championships https://www.skatingjapan.or.jp/common/img/info/world_2022.pdf
Men: Hanyu, Uno, Kagiyama
Women: Sakamoto, Higuchi, Kawabe
Pair: Miura/Kihara
Ice Dance: Muramoto/Takahashi

Men's alternates: Kao Miura, Kazuki Tomono, Sena Miyake
Women's alternates: Mai Mihara, Satoko Miyahara, Rino Matsuike
Ice Dance alternate: Komatsubara/Koleto

2022 Four Continents Championships https://www.skatingjapan.or.jp/common/img/info/fc_2022.pdf
Men: Kao Miura, Kazuki Tomono, Sena Miyake
Women: Mai Mihara, Satoko Miyahara, Rino Matsuike
Ice Dance: Muramoto/Takahashi

Men's alternates: Shun Sato (S7), Sota Yamamoto (S8), Keiji Tanaka (S11 not S10) Koshiro Shimada (S10)
Women's alternates: Yuhana Yokoi (S12), Mako Yamashita (S13)
Ice Dance alternate: Rikako Fukase/Oliver Zhang (a.k.a. Eichu Cho)

2022 World Junior Championships https://www.skatingjapan.or.jp/common/img/info/wjfsc_2022.pdf
Men: Kao Miura (J1/S4), Shun Sato (S7), *Tatsuya Tsuboi (J2/S9)
Women: *Rinka Watanabe (S6), Rion Sumiyoshi (J2/S8)
Dance: *Nao Kida/Masaya Morita (J1)
*still needs to get TES minimums at Bavarian Open

Men's alternates: Lucas Tsuyoshi Honda (S12), Nozomu Yoshioka (J3/S20)
Women's alternates: Rino Matsuike (S7), *Hana Yoshida (J4/S9) - needs minimums

(Please let me know if I made any mistakes.)
 
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Dai's Blues for Klook

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I'm happy for Kao because they seem to have confidence in him to set him first alternate for the OWG AND Senior Worlds (clearly think he's the future) - but gutted for Tomono, who's likely going to retire after this season, having been to worlds only once. Likely there will be withdrawals from the WC team, but I think at least two of the original trio will be going, so Tomono would need Miura to decide against attending both senior and junior worlds.
 

RoseRed

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I'm happy for Kao because they seem to have confidence in him to set him first alternate for the OWG AND Senior Worlds (clearly think he's the future) - but gutted for Tomono, who's likely going to retire after this season, having been to worlds only once. Likely there will be withdrawals from the WC team, but I think at least two of the original trio will be going, so Tomono would need Miura to decide against attending both senior and junior worlds.
Oh, has he said that?
 

maatTheViking

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Sorry for being uninformed, I thought Japan had another Pairs team? Are they not eligible for worlds/4CC? Or any Junior pairs?

It seems it would benefit the Japanese federation to put some more effort into the pairs program, given the high level of single skaters, and Miura/Kihara's success?
 

Sylvia

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Sorry for being uninformed, I thought Japan had another Pairs team? Are they not eligible for worlds/4CC? Or any Junior pairs?
Only one other senior team competed at Nationals: https://www.jsfresults.com/National/2021-2022/fs_e/nationals/data0390.htm
Shoya Ichihashi was Riku Miura's previous partner and Miyu Yunoki is new to pairs.

ETA:
Shoya Ichihashi, 24, announced his new partnership in September - Miyu Yunoki who will be 16 in January: https://www.instagram.com/p/CTWdu_zprPL/
All Nationals results/protocols in English are published now: https://www.jsfresults.com/National/2021-2022/fs_e/nationals/index.htm
 

Sylvia

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@maatTheViking, in April 2021 (refer to quoted posts below), Ikura Kushida & Sumitada Moriguchi performed a pairs exhibition but I don't think they competed domestically this season? He (Moriguchi) was S12 at Nationals last year and 13th this year.
He is on the [2020-21] national team for singles:

Ikura KUSHIDA was 4th in Novice A Nationals and placed 12th at Junior Nationals this season [2020-21].
Here's the news report about K/M from BOI: https://www.nikkansports.com/sports/news/202104240000944.html
Kushida is 13 and Moriguchi 19. Perhaps they'll go for JGP first?
It seems that Kinoshita Academy is drawing skaters to try out for pairs recently so hopefully more couples will emerge soon.
ETA from a post in early Nov. 2021 in Kiss & Cry (Western Section Junior Championships):
Junior Women concluded with nail biting finish.
1. Ayumi Shibayama 177.70
2. Ikura Kushida 175.77
Ikura KUSHIDA finished 8th in Junior Nationals (165.09) in late November 2021.
 
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cohkaix

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Kushida and Moriguchi no longer skate together as a pair.

Yunoki and Ichihashi won the pairs at Nationals. But the pair will need TES minimum fulfilled first (not sure if JSF has intention to send the pair to an international competition to get that.)
 

Karen-W

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Kushida and Moriguchi no longer skate together as a pair.

Yunoki and Ichihashi won the pairs at Nationals. But the pair will need TES minimum fulfilled first (not sure if JSF has intention to send the pair to an international competition to get that.)
Based on their SP and FS scores, they need more time to gel as a pair - maybe next season?
 

gotoschool

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I wish Kaori, Wakaba and Mana the best and they skated really well, but I have to say I disagree with leaving Mai off the Olympic and World team and from a practical standpoint leaving her off the Worlds team due to her maximum international score and gaining places for the next year's Worlds. For example, look at the previous results this season:

Comparisons in the Grand Prix
Mana Kawabe
186.52 Skate Canada 9th place
205.44 NHK Trophy 2nd place
391.96

Mai Mihara
210 Skate Canada 4th of course though she deserved higher in both Grand Prixs
214.95 Skate Grand Prix Italy
414.95

So Mai's maximum possible score internationally this season is on average over 16 points higher per competition and her maximum score is 9.5 points higher which happened outside of Japan.

Second, I doubt Nationals would have been scored the way it was if an international team of judges had done it. I have supported Mana and pointed out her underscoring on several occasions and I really like her performances especially her beautiful triple axel, but I am surprised that nobody has pointed out that several of her landings in the LP most notably the opening triple lutzes and triple loop had hooks or rather rough landings and and all were judged clean with no under rotations or deductions since I didn't see any drop in the tech counter after her performance was over. By contrast, Mai lost several points in tech after her performance was over with overall cleaner landings. Also, Mai's standing ovations in the SP and LP translated into basically nothing in terms of PCS even though they have so often been justified as a reason for jacking up the PCS sky high for other skaters, but never for Mai.

In terms of PCS, Mai's scores were basically only 2 to 3 points higher than Mana's in the LP which is very little, especially considering all the work Mai has painstakingly put for years into slowly improving her picturesque posture, buttery smooth skating skills, sophisticated artistic expression, model carriage, picturesque positions in her arabesque spirals, beautiful transitions and finished articulation and extension in every movement, and the mysterious depth of emotional resonance she has slowly been able to evoke which even reminds me of Mao to some extent, though Mai does it in her own unique way. The skating and artistic element of figure skating has been erased from the equation with one harsh tech call, and Mai has been lowballed with another in a long line of 4th place finishes, 3 in a row this season, so after unjustly being dumped from the podium in her two Grand Prix events, she will now be missing Worlds and the Olympics after battling back so nobly from the ravages of a serious illness to perform with even more sophistication and spirit though it left her so thin.

I think the fact that Coach Hamada doesn't have any other high placing skaters is more essential to the decision and the Nationals scoring, especially considering that so much preference in scoring has been accorded to Kaori with Mai having the same coach Sonoko Nakano, so there are no political points left for Mai to collect since the JSF tends to limit the influence to one skater for each coach, which is one reason why Mai is always relatively so lowballed. The precedent for this exchange and what I consider unfair scoring is what happened between these coaches at 2018 / 2019 Nationals when Coach Hamada's skater Satoko received preferential scores over Mai, who was deflated to fourth and left off the World's team, and Kaori coached by Sonoko Nakano's received preferential scoring over Rika, whose injury and inability to attend the Olympics this season is just as heartbreaking.

In my opinion, one of the best features of being liberated from the judgment of the scoring system is that it allows someone to decide for themselves the qualities they most like to see in a performance. I think Kaori, Wakaba and Mana all skated really well and I was impressed with their performances, but in my opinion Mai delivered the ones I cherish the most.

The bitterness of this is made even more poignant because Rika won't be at Worlds or the Olympics either and what a shocking blow that Mai missing last season because of illness would be followed by Rika missing the season because of injury, both of whom are two of my favorite skaters. On a personal note, I recently fractured my ankle so hearing that Rika had seriously injured her ankle hit me even harder because I know how slow and painful the healing process is just to be able to walk semi-normally much less do triple axels and quads.
 
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Samurina

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I don't think Sato should have moved up to seniors in the first place. I am not a fan of his jumps, and he's not a good overall skater either. I kind of agree that since he did move up last season, and did win a GP medal, he should probably be sent to 4CC instead (replacing Miura or Miyake), but this should have been the original, ideal timeline for him, IMO.
I think Shun is a great skater who is a little inconsistent but considering his jumping repertoire it is just natural, he does need more experience but like many Japanese men he has good speed and flow across the ice so he might not be expressive but he is only 17 and beats a lot of the senior men in that aspect as well.
 

Spun Silver

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I'm happy for Kao because they seem to have confidence in him to set him first alternate for the OWG AND Senior Worlds (clearly think he's the future) - but gutted for Tomono, who's likely going to retire after this season, having been to worlds only once. Likely there will be withdrawals from the WC team, but I think at least two of the original trio will be going, so Tomono would need Miura to decide against attending both senior and junior worlds.
About Tomono retiring, that's not the impression I get from his coach's Instagram post (see the P.S.):

And I really hope he doesn't!

See Misha's next post about Tomono too. He is a proud skating-papa!
 

Sylvia

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Jack Gallagher's Nationals recap articles:

Men:

Women (with a bit of ice dance at the end of each):
 
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Dai's Blues for Klook

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from a practical standpoint leaving her off the Worlds team due to her maximum international score and gaining places for the next year's Worlds. For example, look at the previous results this season:

Comparisons in the Grand Prix
Mana Kawabe
186.52 Skate Canada 9th place
205.44 NHK Trophy 2nd place
391.96

Mai Mihara
210 Skate Canada 4th of course though she deserved higher in both Grand Prixs
214.95 Skate Grand Prix Italy
414.95
I agree with you on this much. Since the aim of these worlds would be to retain 3 spots, it makes more sense to send someone who wouldn't be tired after the Olympics, when 4th place went to someone who's done well all season. Maybe they're betting on withdrawals, but IMO it would help more if the current subs already knew they were going and aim to peak there.
 

Sylvia

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Nagoya Figure Skate Festival (Jan. 4, 2022) - current skater list:

Skaters listed as of 12/27/21:

Shoma Uno
Yuma Kagiyama
Keiji Tanaka
Kazuki Tomono
Kao Miura
Sota Yamamoto
Shunsuke Nakamura
Tatsuya Tsuboi
Note: Shun Sato WD after Nationals due to injury

Kaori Sakamoto
Satoko Miyahara (added today)
Rino Matsuike
Mai Mihara
Mana Kawabe
Yuhana Yokoi
Hana Yoshida
Mao Shimada (current Junior & Novice A champion, age 12)
Rin Nitaya
Marin Honda

Local junior novice:
Kaoruko Wada (current Novice A Women's silver medalist behind Mao Shimada)
Kamizono Koina (?)

Newly retired skaters (2021) Rika Hongo and Yura Matsuda will appear as special guests.
 

Marco

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For the men, the decision is non-controversial. I am glad Kao is right up there and he is going to be the future along with Yuma and Shun once Yuzuru and Shoma retire. Just a bit upset about Sota not getting any assignment after a promising short program (and less chaotic GP season).

For the ladies, Wakaba and Mai both messed up 2017 Worlds that Japanese women lost a spot for 2018, both struggled in the next few seasons after that, but both rebounded solidly this season. I am so happy for Wakaba but feel Mai also deserve that Olympic spot. I don't necessarily feel Mana outskated Mai at Natioals, and when the entire season is taken into account, I feel Mai deserve the spot more. It is especially sad that Mai does not even get Worlds like Wakaba did in 2018. Satoko will remain my favorite but sadly she isn't staying competitive enough with jump issues. Also sad that Rika does not get to compete.
 

Dobre

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For the ladies, Wakaba and Mai both messed up 2017 Worlds that Japanese women lost a spot for 2018, both struggled in the next few seasons after that
Higuchi won World bronze and medaled at both her GP events + two other events in 2018. She was, IMO, really strong that year. The field was just impossibly tough in Japan that season and she didn't skate her best at that pressure-packed nationals. She was injured (& probably hit adolescence) the following season so, at that point, yes, struggled.
 

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