Japanese figure skating 2023-24 season news & updates

Sylvia

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Koshiro Shimada is keeping his "Danse Macabre" FS music from last season: https://www.nikkansports.com/sports/news/202403090001669.html
Machine translated excerpt:
The [SP] song used was a version sung by Shawn Mendes on the piano, and they skated together in front of the audience. He also jumped a quadruple toe loop at the beginning. Although his landing was erratic, he successfully completed three jumps while still having time until next season, and even hummed the singer's song occasionally, showing his care in his facial expressions.
He commissioned choreographer Shae-Lynn Bourne, who is collaborating with him for the first time, to create a work that evokes emotions of joy, anger, sadness, and joy. The unveiling of her costume, which was not yet completed, gave a sense of his enthusiasm for next season. The free skate continues this season's "Dance of Death [Danse Macabre]."

Misha Ge posted that he has choreographed Junior World men’s silver medalist Rio Nakata's SP to “Arroul/Uccen (Flamenco)”: https://www.instagram.com/p/C4SndheJdn4/
 

Sylvia

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Announced retirements this season:

Marin Honda held a retirement press conference back on January 11 and gave an interview to Nikkan Sports afterwards:
Her ISU bio: http://www.isuresults.com/bios/isufs00014689.htm
She has been hired as a Fuji TV sports reporter - was in Taipei for Junior Worlds and will be in Montreal for Worlds:

Nana Araki on her Insta: https://www.instagram.com/araki_nana/p/C3zncitJfDr/
ISU bio: http://www.isuresults.com/bios/isufs00054892.htm

Tomoe Kawabata, 2019 national bronze medalist; ISU bio: http://www.isuresults.com/bios/isufs00034886.htm
ETA a clip from her memorable SP to "The Blue Danube" waltz: https://x.com/midorimoonlight/status/1766583482782801958
Full program (2019 JGP Gdansk): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gi7vzRlGJ5g
 
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Sylvia

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Link to Tomoe Kawabata’s retirement announcement post with photos (includes some lovely comments from fans in English): https://www.instagram.com/p/C4UWMx0JU_-/

ETA from Gallagher's article:
Kawabata expanded on her feelings in an Instagram post on Sunday.
"First of all, from last year, I'm sorry for being away from competition without an announcement, and finally leaving behind the stage without showing you a performance," Kawabata wrote. "Thank you to everyone for your warm wishes during this time.
"The reason for my determination to retire is that in one year away from competition, I have reaffirmed my experience of skating and my thoughts without regret," Kawabata continued. "For me, my feelings overcame a tough time and I am glad I skated again in a final push.
"To everyone who has supported me so far, I really appreciate it. So many people have supported me in my skating life and I can't thank you enough. I will move forward in my life with the words and thoughts I received in my heart forever.
"Thank you very much."
 
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Frau Muller

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Sylvia

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And Yuma's SP :swoon: (NBC/from USA cable network live coverage earlier today): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3NWvWYIBzM

Congrats to Riku Miura & Ryuichi Kihara on winning the FS tonight & the silver medal - it's very unfortunate that they couldn't take part in the medal ceremony :(: https://twitter.com/goldenskate/status/1771012955447972103
Coach Bruno Marcotte spoke to the press about his team Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara 🇯🇵 who just took the silver medal at Worlds:
“They were extremely proud of their performance. After their performance. Ryuichi started to cough, he hyper ventilated, and he had low suger, he was dizzy. He tried to stand up a couple of times but couldn’t keep his balance. The medical team took care of him, gave him some fluids and when I just saw him he started feeling a lot better.
He felt bad to not go and do his duties but he also felt very bad that he couldn’t go congratulate Deanna and Max. So I want to congratulate them in behalf of Riku and Ryiuchi.”
 

Sylvia

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With third straight title, Sakamoto leaves her mark on skating history by Hiro Yoshida (March 25):
Excerpts:
World champion in both 2022 and 2023, Kobe native Kaori Sakamoto arrived in Montreal aiming to become the first woman to win three consecutive world titles since Peggy Fleming from the United States claimed gold from 1966 to 1968.
Mission accomplished. But it was far from a straightforward march to the top step of the podium. [...]
“I couldn’t perform well today, and I don’t feel like this performance deserved the score I received,” Sakamoto told reporters after her short program.
Sakamoto had a full day of rest to recover ahead of the free skate on Friday — and this time she would hardly put a foot wrong.
Performing to “Wild Is The Wind” and “Feeling Good” by Lauryn Hill, Sakamoto had the audience in the Bell Center in the palm of her hand for four minutes and by the end there was not a single person in the building who was not on their feet. She posted a free skate score of 149.67 points — over 10 points clear of any other skater — giving her a total of 222.96.
“After my triple-triple combination, the roar of the crowd was really loud, but I tried to stay calm and focused until the end,” Sakamoto said. “At the end, after my spin, I was finally able to let it all out and say, ‘I did it!’”
Sakamoto had set the benchmark and none of the following three skaters could match her, giving her that all-too-rare third straight world title. Among Japanese skaters, only Mao Asada has won as many world titles, [...]
The news was better for Japan’s other top male skater, Yuma Kagiyama.
Uno’s younger compatriot has been on the comeback trail this season after being forced to miss last year’s worlds in Saitama as he rehabilitated a left foot injury. He was sitting just over a point behind Uno after the short in second place and, apart from a fall when he caught an edge after landing a second triple axel, he delivered a performance in the free that would have been good enough in most years to claim a maiden world championship gold.
Kagiyama and the rest of the field, however, were simply unable to match the technical prowess of America’s Ilia Malinin, who completed a free routine with six quadruple jumps, including his signature quadruple axel, which eluded even the great Yuzuru Hanyu — only Malinin has ever cleanly landed it in competition. The American finished ahead of Kagiyama by over 32 points, leaving Kagiyama with a third world championship silver in his trophy case.
The harsh reality is that even if Kagiyama had skated perfectly, it would not have been nearly enough to trouble Malinin in Montreal.
Kagiyama, 20, is resigned to the fact that he will be playing a game of catch-up for the immediate future against his 19-year-old rival.
“I will be competing for years to come against him,” Kagiyama said at the post-competition news conference. “When I see him at our next competition and we both perform at 100% ability, I don’t think I will be able to win against him.
“Next season all I can do is to improve myself. I will have two new programs, I’ll be working on my skating skills, and to acquire GOEs (Grades of Execution) on all of my elements.”
 

Frau Muller

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Marco

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Do JPN women have others to rely on besides Kaori? In the past 3 Worlds, besides Kaori who won all 3 times, JPN had sent 2 different women each time and not that successfully. None of Mone, Hana, Mai, Rinka, Wakaba and Mana had been consistent - Mai came closest last season but still missed the world medal and still had health issues. Mao (Shimada) isn't going to be age eligible in a couple of seasons still - is there anyone else who can help take some pressure off Kaori?
 

Sylvia

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ISU Season Best Total Scores in 2023-24 - Japanese women with 180+:

1Kaori SAKAMOTOJPNISU GP Skate Canada International 202328/10/2023226.13S
3Mao SHIMADAJPNISU World Junior Championships 202401/03/2024218.36J
4Mone CHIBAJPNISU Four Continents Championships 202402/02/2024214.98S
9Hana YOSHIDAJPNISU GP Cup of China 202311/11/2023203.97S
10Rinka WATANABEJPNISU GP Cup of China 202311/11/2023203.22S
14Rino MATSUIKEJPNISU GP Skate Canada International 202328/10/2023198.62S
15Rion SUMIYOSHIJPNISU GP Grand Prix de France 202304/11/2023197.76S
16Rena UEZONOJPNISU Grand Prix Final 2023/2408/12/2023196.46J
20Ami NAKAIJPNISU JGP Istanbul 202308/09/2023194.65J
24Wakaba HIGUCHIJPNISU GP Grand Prix de France 202304/11/2023190.02S
27Yo TAKAGIJPNISU JGP Osaka 202316/09/2023188.15J
32Yuna AOKIJPNISU GP NHK Trophy 202325/11/2023184.46S
33Mai MIHARAJPNISU Four Continents Championships 202402/02/2024184.07S
39Ikura KUSHIDAJPNISU World Junior Championships 202401/03/2024180.97J
 

skatfan

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Just saw Ryuichi Kiara post this on X:

“Due to Miura's injury, he will be stepping down from Stars on Ice.
I am truly sorry to everyone who was looking forward to the performance and to all those involved.
This is because Miura fell and was injured during the six-minute practice session for the free skating at the World Championships last week.”


That explains why they didn’t skate the Gala.

I hope they both have a full recovery from their injuries.
 
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Desperado

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Just saw Ryuichi Kiara post this on X:

“Due to Miura's injury, he will be stepping down from Stars on Ice.
I am truly sorry to everyone who was looking forward to the performance and to all those involved.
This is because Miura fell and was injured during the six-minute practice session for the free skating at the World Championships last week.”


That explains why they didn’t skate the Gala.

I hope they both have a full recovery from their injuries.
And they skated well right after, wow.

So she was hurt during the warmup, he had a bad back and suffered from an issue requiring medical help right after the competition. They missed the medal ceremony and now SOI.

A season of hell. Wishing them all the best for next year.
 

Sylvia

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Here’s Riku's post about her injury: https://www.instagram.com/p/C5FYWU0JUEQ/
Google translation:
I have recently had to withdraw from appearing on Stars on Ice due to re-subluxation of my left shoulder, and I feel truly sorry for everyone involved and the many people who were planning to attend.

During the 6-minute practice on the day of the World Championships free skate held in Montreal the other day, I fell down on Throw Lutz[?] and subluxated it again.
However, it is milder than the dislocation two years ago, and the doctor says it will get better with six weeks of rest and rehabilitation.
We would like to do our best to do what we can now for next season.
Thank you for your continued support.

Riku Miura
 
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Sylvia

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Kaori interview clip: https://twitter.com/Olympics/status/1774057252330074437
By Nick McCarvel (March 30): https://olympics.com/en/news/sakamoto-kaori-world-figure-skating-three-peat-targeted-year-exclusive
Embedded video of Olympics.com's almost 4-min. interview - Sakamoto Kaori’s balanced road to three world titles: 'Everything is fulfilling' – Exclusive
Excerpt:
Happiness is something Sakamoto appears to have chosen in a competitive life that can otherwise be pressure-filled and stressful. She dedicated her short program this season to her niece and nephew, saying their presence in her life often offer a respite from the daily rigours of training.
Outside of her programs, she has become a singular, joyful force in figure skating: To know Sakamoto the person is to appreciate her zest for life... and want to laugh – a lot.
Where does that come from? We ask. She smiles, unsurprisingly.
“Life is good. Right now, everything is fulfilling,” she responds. “But more often than not, things don’t work out the way I want them to. [Life is] full of accidents and troubles, but that’s how I get a laugh out of each day: I try to turn all the negatives into a positive. And I can’t get enough of that.”
 

Sylvia

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Replying to @Allskate here:
@Allskate Yoshida’s own Instagram account spells her first name “Hanna” and her ISU bio used to be that way too but is “Hana” now as well as in ISU results.

For those without Instagram access, this fan posted a clip of Isabeau & Hana enjoying Osaka cheese coins and a screenshot of them on X: https://x.com/violetsvirtue/status/1774046194920006059
Yes, I know. That's why I posted it as "Hana (Hanna?)" when I was posting a link to her Instagram. She spells it differently than the ISU, NBC, etc. do. Everybody else is using "Hana." It seems kind of rude not to use her chosen spelling, but she may not have given much thought to the English spelling.
JSF's English results website also lists Yoshida's first name as Hana now (it used to be "Hanna" IIRC) - Senior women's final results at Nationals (Dec. 2023): https://www.jsfresults.com/National/2023-2024/fs_e/national/data0290.htm

ETA that I've always wondered why the JSF's results site has listed Mako's last name as YAMASITA (instead of Yamashita as in her ISU bio: http://www.isuresults.com/bios/isufs00054890.htm)
 
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Lara

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That has to be a typo?? "Si" isn't even a sound in Japanese (plus I checked the kanji of her name and it's definitely Yamashita).

Yep - whereas “n” is a sound so you could have Ha-na or Ha-n-na, and it seems either one can correspond to 花 (the kanji for flower) at least per my dictionary app.
 

Sylvia

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Brian Boitano worked with skaters at the Kinoshita Academy: https://www.instagram.com/p/C5rvqiPpibL/

:lol: Sumitada Moriguchi’s video (“This is why Brian Boitano called me Sumitano”): https://www.instagram.com/reel/C5vbPziJZC2/
His photo with Boitano: https://www.instagram.com/p/C5vPDMtpoDf/

Article (subscription required to read in full): https://mainichi.jp/articles/20240410/k00/00m/050/352000c
Brian Boitano (60) ... gave instructions to Kinoshita Academy students on the 10th in Uji City, Kyoto Prefecture. The main discussion after the lesson is as follows.
The skaters at the academy are amazing and full of talent. I have never seen so many talented players come together in one place.
(What I want to convey is) everything I've learned. I want to help them solve their own problems and give them tools they can use in the future.
 
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Sylvia

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Brian Boitano gave lessons at the Kinoshita Academy from April 9-12:
Translation of Hana Yoshida's quote plus an excerpt from the end:
``I was able to jump in a different way and gain a different perspective than before.'' [...]
True to the image of ``jumping with no waste'', I learned how to jump efficiently and with high reproducibility, such as stopping the leg that is away from the ice before completing a triple axel (three and a half revolutions). "I got a different perspective," he said, exuding a sense of fulfillment.
The academy students ... are scheduled to perform at the ice show "Bloom on Ice" (Kinoshita Academy Kyoto Ice Arena) on the 20th and 21st [of April]. There will be two performances a day (starting at 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.) for a total of four performances, and in addition to [Mone] Chiba and Yoshida, Koshiro Shimada and Shunsuke Nakamura will also appear.
Mao Shimada - ``I am practicing well'' I feel fulfilled by direct instruction from famous skater Mr. Boitano:
 

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