All’s well that ends well.
Sakamoto Kaori defended the women’s title in the cat Japanese Figure Skating Championships in Osaka on Saturday (December 24), bouncing empty-handed ISU Grand Prix Final just two weeks ago.
Despite what was perceived as a deep field of competition in the build-up, Sakamoto finished with a lead of almost 14 points with a final total of 233.05 points. Unofficially, this is the highest note in the world this year.
In the free skate, Sakamoto posted 155.26, a full 10 points ahead of the winner of the Grand Prix Final Mihara Maiher friend and teammate under the guidance of the coach Nakano Sonoko.
Mihara finished with a total score of 219.93 after posting 145.23 for free.
The podium was completed by the champion of the Junior Grand Prix Final, a 14-year-old phenomenon Shimada Mao (202.79), which shone on its debut all over Japan, despite falling in the first two jumps.
With her third career national title, Sakamoto also secured a spot in Saitama World Championship in March. The official announcement of the team will take place on Sunday.
“I thought I could barely tip 150 for free, so I was a little surprised,” said Sakamoto. “I was calmer than with the short program.
“The result is a reflection of the work I’ve been putting in since last year because it doesn’t just grow. I’m very happy with the result here, but I have to build on that for the future.
“The World Cup is in March, which seems far away, but it is not. Until then, I have to push to make sure I’m 100 percent ready.
Sakamoto does it well at night
During the Grand Prix Final in Turin, Italy, Sakamoto unraveled in a free show. But not this time.
She managed every jump, including a triple flip-triple toeloop combination that was a thorn in her side. It was a flawless performance from start to finish.
“Today I didn’t slow down in the second half and I really felt free on the ice. I think it’s the best I’ve ever felt and rode with confidence,” said the 22-year-old. “I finally made all the jumps. It’s the best I can do right now, but I like to think I still have more to offer.
“After the freebie, I was completely exhausted. I couldn’t even celebrate, I was so tired. I’m just really happy with how things turned out.”
Mihara will see another strong performance in the New Year after three Grand Prix victories, including a final, this season.
23 years old should also be a blocker for Worlds, and is finally delivering on her promise after being sidelined for the entire 2019-20 season due to illness. The absence cost her a place on the Beijing 2022 Olympic team.
Having overcome what she has overcome, Mihara does not take any of her recent successes for granted, now or ever.
“I compete regularly. It was hard on my legs, but I set the bar high,” she said.
“I managed to survive some difficult moments. I’ve experienced a lot. I kept telling myself I wasn’t going to hit the bottom like last year. Compared to those times, it is much better. .
“I have never seen so many banners with me in my life. I want to skate well in recognition of all the support I’ve received.”
Takahashi completes the men’s historic double ice dance
After the third question, Kana Muramoto and Takahashi Daisuke eventually won the national ice dance title.
They scored 186.61 to be better than the four-time defending champions and Beijing 2022 Olympians Komatsubara Misato/ /Takeru (175.10).
Takahashi became the first skater to win both the men’s singles and ice dance crowns at the All-Japans. The Vancouver 2010 the bronze medalist won the event five times (2005-07, 2009, 2011) as a singles skater.
“Before I started ice dancing, I didn’t think about it at all,” Takahashi said. “But winning both categories at the Nationals means something to me.
“I never imagined that I would be in the middle of the podium when I started. Even at 36, I feel like I’m getting better at something.
“I got myself a nice Christmas present.”
Performing for the song “Phantom of the Opera” – the music Takahashi used in 2006-2007 – Muramoto/Takahashi got through the routine flawlessly and the crowd was about to explode.
But while closing the elevator, Takahashi failed to muster enough thrust to lift Muramoto, who fell off his shoulders, leading to a two-point deduction from their score of 108.91.
However, with a nine-point rhythm dance cushion and Komatsubaras receiving what felt like a stern 105.14, Muramoto/Takahashi could still celebrate their first national crown.
“Mistake at the end, it’s almost all my fault. I thought I screwed up,” Takahashi said of the fall.
“I wanted to jump for joy, but I was thinking more about a mistake. I won’t be able to sleep tonight. I’m delighted but frustrated at the same time. I’m going to drink it!”
2022 Japan National Figure Skating Championship Schedule (local time JST, UTC+9):
Sunday December 25
Free program for couples – 15:30
Men’s free program – 17:00