What does Kaori Sakamoto need to do next season?

museksk8r

Holding an edge and looking dangerously sexy
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Sadly, Kaori Sakamoto received no love or help from the judging panel at last week’s Worlds. She already has arguably the best skating skills and the largest jumps in the world in the ladies discipline, but was controversially under marked in PCS and GOE and placed behind skaters who had many more errors and inferior skating skills, transitions and choreography at Worlds.

I realize her technical base value isn’t the highest caliber due to a lack of 3Axel and/or a quad(s). Sakamoto’s Axel is so big, open and beautiful, but she would need to find a way to achieve tighter and faster rotation in the air to master the triple. I also know that she needs to work on correcting her edge into the triple Lutz, but again, other skaters seem to get away with incorrect Lutz and flip entries. Obviously, technical additions and improvements like these cannot easily be accomplished in one off-season.

It has been reported that Kaori has very limited access to ice and training time, so it truly is remarkable that she is as talented and accomplished as she is.

What are your suggestions on what Kaori can do to receive more appreciation from international panels? I think she is amazing and worthy of more love. I adore that she brings edginess, attack, excitement and power to the ladies discipline. I think the ladies discipline needs more skaters like her.

One thing I notice that may have hindered a better result for her at Worlds is that she struggled during the last GP circuit in the fall of 2019 and she never had an opportunity to redeem herself and impress international judges with better skates in international events due to event cancellations caused by the *********. In short, she lost momentum, so I hope she is able to kill it in her scheduled events leading up to the Olympics next season. Go Kaori!
 
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Lilia A

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She needs another decapitation spiral but taken to the next level. Hey judges, I'm looking at you, score me well or you'll have a date with my blade :EVILLE:. You know, as I was watching her FS at worlds, when she started her choreo sequence I actually said aloud "here she comessss". Yeah, that's so mature, I know.

All jokes aside, her speed is unmatched right now and her ice coverage is pretty impressive. I think her posture still needs some help, or a lot. It's better than before, but she could use help in that area. I'd say drop the Lutz in the short because a well done Loop will score higher than her flutz and leave a better impression overall. If she's trying it to take a gamble and see if it gets called or not, I'd say that's not a good plan. Assume it will be called and if it isn't then good for you. Also, her 3Loop is pretty good. So, right there, you got a few extra points in the short.
I really liked her Matrix FS and I hope she'll continue exploring that style of program. I don't see her keeping it for a third year, but definitely stick to that style. Lyrical isn't her style, and that's okay.

Triple Axel - if she can do it half as well as her double, then she's got a great and powerful weapon. I'd say work on it and try it out. Japan has three spots and as much as I love Satoko, I don't see her getting the nod next year. You never know with Wakaba, so that leaves Rika and Rino. I can see the three of them at the Olympics and Worlds next year (provided that Rika's jumps don't deteriorate further - whyyoudoingatripleaxelwithlambielofallpeopleseriously - and Rino continues to improve)
 

Wyliefan

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I really liked her Matrix FS and I hope she'll continue exploring that style of program. I don't see her keeping it for a third year, but definitely stick to that style. Lyrical isn't her style, and that's okay.
I submit that as long as she skates with a lack of tension in her body, lyrical IS her style. The Matrix was a great program, and Lord knows she did an awesome job with the decapitation spiral :lol: , but she never skated it with the force and power I wanted to see from her. She was too loose. She does better with beautiful flowy programs like her short, and until she can change the way she skates, she should stick with those.

I did think the judges were unduly harsh with her, though. Especially in the short.
 

Lara

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It might be hard to compare but I'm curious how her Piano LP from the season she won Nats fared in PCS vs. the Matrix. I think there can be a middle ground where a program is lyrical without being pretty princess, and that one worked (especially with the music editing that highlighted her beautiful loop and iirc second lutz).
 

Lilia A

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I submit that as long as she skates with a lack of tension in her body, lyrical IS her style. The Matrix was a great program, and Lord knows she did an awesome job with the decapitation spiral :lol: , but she never skated it with the force and power I wanted to see from her. She was too loose. She does better with beautiful flowy programs like her short, and until she can change the way she skates, she should stick with those.

I did think the judges were unduly harsh with her, though. Especially in the short.

True, I guess I'm being a bit harsh by saying lyrical isn't completely her style. She can definitely make it work. Now, usually it's easier to make a style work in a SP, where you only have 7 elements and a minute and some change less time to fill. I agree with Lara that there could be a middle ground. Something nice and flowy but with an edge.
Maybe a lyrical program where the decapitation spiral could still fit? JK (but I wouldn't be mad about it).

Since it's almost the off season, and it already is for many, this is the time of year where I think which program I'd like for each skater. Honestly, I have no idea what I'd like for Kaori. Lyrical maybe. Classical? Nyet. That would make things more noticeable. Maybe spend a few months with King Baboo in France and come back with Matrix Reloaded and this time really knock things off the judges table for real.
 

museksk8r

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Lara, there was definitely a very wide disparity in Sakamoto’s PCS, particularly in the free skate, when looking at the results from 2019 and 2021 Worlds. In 2019, she received 34.88 PCS in the short program and 73.26 PCS in the free skate. In 2021, she received 34.24 PCS in the short program and 67.70 PCS in the free skate. The difference from 2019 to 2021 in the Worlds free skate is 5.56 points and she did not commit major mistakes to warrant such a decline in scores, which is why many skating fans have called foul on the judging panel. That is a criminal difference in scoring from one program to the other. Kaori had no falls and no under rotations in 2021, so the outcome is definitely suspect.
 

Vash01

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She needs to up the ante. Judges like it when a skater works on harder elements. Kaori needs to add a triple axel or a quad.
 

Vash01

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Is it possible that the Japanese are placing all their eggs in the Kihira basket? They may need a backup plan and it could be Sakamoto. I know it doesn't answer the question raised in this thread.

I say dump the Matrix and find a different program that brings out her beauty, add a 3A.
 

Coco

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Here are her 2019 and 2021 Worlds FS to illustrate what @museksk8r said a few posts earlier. I could see a slight justification for the P/E mark going down if only because her body language during the 2021 FS seemed to convey a strong desire to want to be somewhere else. In 2019, she seemed a lot more engaged until after she popped the flip.

2019 - Piano

2021 - Matrix
 

Brenda_Bottems

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It is quite simple. Judges do not want to see LADIES skate like men.

I happen to agree with them,much to the detriment of the "politically correct" crowd here. I am certain this skater has received the message loud and clear,and will have more appropriate programs next season.

-BB
 

tony

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I didn’t find The Matrix to be all that thrilling honestly. I also didn’t think it was a choreographic masterpiece in the least, and I think Richaud has come up with much better programs. I also think she had a better short program last year.

I do wish she would be rewarded more for the power, distance, and speed into and especially out of her jumps. But thankfully we are done with The Matrix.
 

Spun Silver

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To me the biggest thing she could do other than add a 3A or quad is work on her posture. It detracts from her beauties as a skater. I don't find her to be especially expressive, but if she could marry her beautiful technique, speed, and skating skills to a powerful but abstract piece of classical music - anything from Rach 2 to The Rite of Spring... something that could get her brownie points for artistry - she might have a winner.
 

briancoogaert

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She needs to be more consistant. She doesn't have the best base value, and she often makes mistakes. That is very costly even on the PCS.
But of course, she needs more recognition from the judges, and it's not up to her.
It's really a shame to see big GOE on every little jump from any russian girl, and smaller GOE on Kaori's big jumps ! Same about Skating Skills ;)
 

Tak

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Kaori needs to hire a certain person to be her "Mental Strength" Coach.

The proof is in what happened at JPN local championships named Japan Junior High School Championships. You can compete only three years during enrollment in Junior High (aged 13-15). Kaori won Silver (Gold won by Mai) in her 1st year and Silver (Gold won by Wakaba, Bronze was Mai) again in her 2nd. The third and final year of her eligibilty, Kaori REALLY wanted to win, even saying so during an interview. What transpired was shocking, Kaori fell three times in the Short and failed to advance to the Free. The only difference was the absence of Mai Mihara who graduated from Junior High and was competing in Senior High School Championships that season.
Even now, Kaori does seem to skate much better when her "Big Sis" Mai Mihara is around.
 

hanca

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At the expense of her beautiful expressiveness and incredible choreography? No thanks.
The expressiveness is exactly what I was missing from her though! She has beautiful soft knees, her skating skills are really, really great, but PCS is also about expressing the program, and I don’t feel she has done enough in this aspect. Her FS is fierce, and yet if you switched off the sound, you wouldn’t notice that she is interpreting a fierce program! I liked her skating, but from the interpretation point of view, it was like if a kitten was trying to be a lion. If I was her coach, I would either play into her strengths and choose program that has softer, more gentle music, or I would sign her up for acting classes, as well as letting her spend more time with the choreographer and make sure that fierce program actually looks fierce.
 

RoseRed

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I'm not sure I want all pretty soft programs from Kaori, but I do agree that for me expressiveness isn't one of her big strengths. She has had strong performances, but I didn't think her skate at Worlds was that strong on the PE/IN side of things. It definitely fell flat for me. So I'm not shocked that her PCS were lower. Her PCS strengths are more on the SS imo (which were too low in the Worlds FS).

And definitely take the 3Lz out of the SP - they called the edge in both programs at worlds and that's just giving away points and GOE. It's not worth it.
 

SmallFairy

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I thought her Piano-program worked beautifully. She skated it with intensity, yet a subtle gentleness, especially when she won Japanese nationals with it.

She’s a power skater, hence her speed and big jumps but still soft, her knee bend is exquisite, and she has a more reserved way of expressing herself on the ice, but then in the KnC her bubbly, fun personality comes through. How to put all that together in the best possible way?
 

clairecloutier

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I think that doing electronica-type fast-paced programs maybe seemed like a good idea because Kaori has so much natural speed and athleticism. But yeah, the essence of her movement is not fast, precise footwork but huge, flowing curves on the ice. So perhaps lyrical music with sustained notes and longer melodies is going to work better for her than more rhythmic, short-burst, percussive-type music. I think her most effective programs from this past quad were the two pieces from 2018-19: Gymnopedie and The Piano.
 

overedge

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She absolutely :kickass: with the Matrix program at NHK - it was better there than it was at Worlds, although it was pretty awesome at Worlds. So I think she's capable of both lyrical and more edgy programs, which is why I enjoy her skating so much.

Honestly, it makes me nervous to see "what does she have to do to get better marks" discussions about skaters. @museksk8r I agree with you that she is being undermarked (although fifth in the world, where she is right now, is not too shabby) but too often IMO pandering to what the judges want, or what coaches/choreographers think they want, leads to skaters not being comfortable in what they're doing, and running into even more trouble because the programs don't "look" right on them.

I know that skating is way expensive and stressful, and that there are a lot of excellent women competing in Japan right now. But in an ideal world I would love to see Kaori go wherever her skating muse takes her, and do the programs she feels fits her best - whatever that is. If the judges like them, great, but if not, I guess some decisions have to be made as to whether she wants to do more "judge-friendly" programs and if pleasing the judges is what she wants to get out of skating.
 
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museksk8r

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@overedge, I agree with all the points you have made! Kaori should definitely take great pride in all of her gifts that she brings to the skating world. Her joy is infectious and her artistic versatility really does set her apart as one of the very best in the world. I truly believe loving what you are doing on the ice must be paramount to a skater and take priority over pleasing a judging panel. I only want the best for Kaori and all the skaters. Finding the best fit with the right piece of music and the character to portray your greatest strengths is the largest piece of the puzzle. Despite all evidence to the contrary, in my heart I still believe that this sport/art we love values the actual skating above all else. The quality of the program and the skating are what truly creates a memorable moment and lasting impact to the vast majority of fans. Jumps are important, but they make up the smallest amount of time in a skater’s program. I love that Kaori is a well rounded skater and her programs have always intrigued me. I am so excited to see what she has in store for us next! ❤️ 💕 💗
 

skylark

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Lose the decapitation spiral. I know, I know, it's an unpopular opinion!

Aside from that, I agree with @overedge, don't try to change to please the judges at the expense of losing herself.
 

jlai

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I think with Kaori, she would have been placed higher if she skated last. Skating order and reputation have a big influence in your scoring
 

AxelAnnie

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I think her choreographer is letting her down. (Richaud). I looked back at snippets of her FSs from 2013 to the Present.

She was soft and lovely as a junior. We have all known skaters whose speed needs to be harnessed (Carolyn), and she is competing against whisps of ladies. Also, her programs need to be organized around content, with a lack of a focus on the PCS. She used to be able to win on skills alone (like Sluteskaya) but now, the BTB is rewarding artistry as well.
 

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