FIGURE SKATING | Kao Miura and Mao Shimada win Japan junior titles with powerful performances


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NAGOYA ー After struggling in his short program on Saturday November 20 and trailing the leader by more than 17 points at the Japan Junior Championships, Kao Miura proclaimed, “I’m just going to play free. [skate]. I will really win!

The 16-year-old quad jump sensation lived up to his prediction on Sunday, coming back to win the title with an incredible free skate that included two clean quads and five triples.

Miura’s total winning score was 229.28 points, edging the post-short program leader Tatsuya Tsuboi (227.60) by less than two points. Nozomu Yoshioka was third at 191.80.

Young phenomenon Mao Shimada won the women’s competition with a show jumping show, coming in fourth after the short program with a sensational free skate. The 13-year-old, who finished third last season, won with a total of 188.51.

Rion Sumiyoshi, the leader after the short program, was second at 180.25, while Mone Chiba was third at 175.41.

Miura opened with a gorgeous triple axel, then followed it with a solid quad salchow and a huge quad toe loop / triple toe loop combination. He received a long standing ovation from the crowd at Nippon Gaishi Arena as he wrapped up his program to a selection of songs by Vicente Amigo.

Although Miura fell on a quadruple toe loop later in the program and only received level three out of two of his spins and strides, his jumping prowess was still enough to carry him to the top of the podium.

Miura’s free skating score was a titanic 165.28, and he broke down in tears when the tally was posted on the video board.

“[After the short program] I was so worried that it would be pointless to be there for a year, ”said Miura. “But I was relieved that I could perform well for free, and I felt relieved of my anxiety.”

Miura, who finished eighth in the NHK Trophy last week, added that he “wants to be on the podium at the world junior championships and in the final group of the Japanese championships. [free skate]. “

Tsuboi, the 2018 junior champion, started with a quivering quad salchow, but went on to score seven net triples in his free skate at Rachmaninoff’s “Prelude # 10”. However, the 18-year-old from Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture, only received a level two on one of his turns and strides.

“I’m a little disappointed to get out of the quad salchow, but I’m glad I got to show what I’ve been practicing other than that,” commented Tsuboi. “At the Japanese Championships, we plan to incorporate the short program quad salchow. I hope to do the world junior championships.

Yoshioka, 17 from Osaka, was delighted to step onto the podium for the first time.

“I am very happy because I worked hard in training,” commented Yoshioka. “The combination (quad toe loop / triple toe loop) wasn’t very good for me, and it was dangerous when I got out of four corners, so I got the second triple with some wit.”

Takeru Kataise was fourth with 188.37.

Shimada shines in women’s free skating

Shimada opened her free skate at “Queen’s Gambit” with five jumps, landing them all with flair. She started with a thin quad loop, then hit a triple lutz / triple toe loop combo, followed by a triple flip and a triple loop.

Shimada was awarded a level four on his turns and a level three on his streak.

“I’m glad I didn’t think I could win the championship,” Shimada said. “I want to improve my expressiveness and my skating to improve the PCS (Program Component Scores). I want to put on two quads from next year, the first two quadruple toe loops.

Sumiyoshi struggled at the start and end of her program. The 18-year-old started with a triple flip / triple toe loop combo, but then landed on both feet on her triple lutz. Near the finish, she doubled the front end of a planned triple salchow / double toe loop combo.

“I am disappointed that I could not demonstrate what I have practiced, but I am happy to be [in] second place because I reached the maximum number of laps and steps and rated them, ”commented Sumiyoshi. “I thought I would try to attack, but my body shrunk and I couldn’t do a good jump like in training.”

Chiba was absolutely lovely in her free program on “Butterfly Lovers Concerto”. The 16-year-old from Sendai had five clear triples and achieved level four on her laps in an energetic performance.

“I still don’t feel like I made a mistake,” Chiba said. “I think it’s because all the jumps were barely enough. I wasn’t sure if I would do it, but I’m glad I didn’t make any big mistakes.

Hana Yoshida, who finished second last year, was fourth at 172.55.

Author: Jack Gallagher

The author is a seasoned sports journalist and one of the world’s foremost figure skating experts. Find Jack’s articles and podcasts on his author page, here, and find him on Twitter @sportsjapan.

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