Uno Shoma reported his fifth Figure skating all over Japan Champions title in Osaka on Sunday (December 25).
The reigning world champion won four consecutive national titles between 2016-19 before finishing second Hanyu Yuzuru in the next two releases.
After the double Olympic gold medalist dropped out of contention, Uno made an impressive return to the top of the podium to book himself a place at the World Championships in Saitama in March.
Uno, who turned 25 last weekend, wasn’t the best in his free skate as he doubled what should have been a quad Salchow early on before falling to a quad flip.
But his high score in the technical elements gave him a significant advantage over his rivals and he comfortably won the free skate with a score of 191.28.
This gave him a total score of 291.73 as he maintained his perfect record this season with victories in Skate Canada, NHK trophy and Grand Prix Final.
“Both short and casual, I don’t think I’ve been able to reflect what I’ve been doing in practice, but I still think I rode well here,” said Uno.
“I blew up early in the free play but thought the second half of my program was solid enough to make up for it. I wasn’t worried and my results are something I can build on.”
Uno says that skating to the best of his ability in Saitama is a priority for him, rather than retaining his world title.
“I’m not sure what condition everyone else is in, but if I keep improving at this rate I have a more than good chance of winning,” he said.
“As for repeating the title of champion … Of course, I will do everything in my power to win it, but my goal is to perfect the craft so that I can express what I want to express through figure skating.”
Shimada Koshiro showed that his second-place finish in the short program was no accident by landing two quads and two triple Axels in a perfect free skate to music from Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights.
Despite one endgame coup, the 21-year-old who trains with Uno below Stefan Lambiel – he scored 164.84 for a total of 252.56, placing him second, which allowed him to be included in the Japan squad for the World Cup.
Only the winner is guaranteed a place on worlds z the other two berths announced later on Sunday.
Tomono Kazuki he played with the audience-pleasing routine for Strauss’s Die Fledermaus Overture, but did a quad toeloop and a few choppy jumps cost him several points.
Despite this, his free skate score of 165.41 gave him a total of 250.84 and third place.
Sato Shun he bounced well from a fall on Lutz’s opening quad and put together a great free skate, scoring 167.86 for a total of 249.64, good enough for fourth place.
Yamamoto Sota he lost his podium spot after doubling what should have been his opening quad Salchow and falling on the next jump, a toeloop quad.
There were a few incomplete rotations after that, with the runner-up in the Grand Prix Final finishing fifth with a score of 245.41.
Kagiyama Yumain his first competition since winning silver at this year’s world championships, he collapsed on the opening Quad Salchow in his free skate.
A left ankle injury previously ruled him out this season and it is clear that the 19-year-old is not yet fully recovered and his jumps are well below his usual high.
The Beijing 2022 the silver medalist placed eighth with a total score of 237.83. Kagiyama said his priority is to get back to full fitness, not any specific competition.
“In today’s four minutes I was reminded how difficult the first competition after the break can be,” he said. “I know what I have to do now after two days here. I need to recover, heal the injury and take it out of there.
“The ankle didn’t bother me at all today. I begged to start here, but the result was far from satisfactory. It’s frustrating and I feel sorry for those who support me.
“I don’t regret taking part in the national competition. Next season I have to be absolutely ready from the first competition so that I can keep up with the others.”