Sakamoto and Kagiyama lead after short programs; Muramoto & Takahashi debut

2018 Four Continents Championship winner Kaori Sakamoto took the lead of the ladies’ event after the short program at the final stage of this season’s ISU Grand Prix series.

Skating to music by Johann Sebastian Bach, the 20-year-old figure skater landed a double axel, a triple Lutz, and a triple flip-triple toe loop combination to earn a total performance result of 75.60 points. She received the highest total program components score among the ladies – 35.00 points.

2018 World Championship silver medalist Wakaba Higuchi fell on her opening triple axel attempt but then landed a triple Lutz-triple loop combination and a triple flip. The 19-year-old received a total program component score of 31.96 points and a total short program score of 69.71 points to take second place.

2018 World Junior Championship bronze medalist Mako Yamashita began her short program performance with a triple loop and then landed a double axel. The 17-year-old also landed a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, and received a total program score of 67.56 points for third place after the first day of the competition.

The lone non-Japanese figure skater in the event – Young You of South Korea – fell on her opening triple axel attempt and then again on a triple Lutz. The triple flip-triple toe loop combination was also deemed under-rotated. The 16-year-old who won the silver medal at the 2020 Four Continents Championship received a total short program score of 55.56 points and is in twelfth place.

Kana Muramoto and Daisuke Takahashi made their highly anticipated competitive ice dance debut at the 2020 NHK Trophy but it was the more experience ice dancer Misato Komatsubara and Tim Koleto who took the lead after the rhythm dance.

Two-time Japanese National champions Misato Komatsubara and Tim Koleto received a total score of 70.76 points. The couple are having a good stretch of success as the U.S.-born Koleto became a Japanese citizen on November 19, making the ice dancers eligible to represent Japan at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

The new team of Kana Muramoto – 2018 Four Continents Championship bronze medalist in her partnership with Chris Reed – and Daisuke Takahashi – 2010 Olympic bronze medalist and 2010 World champion in men’s singles skating – made their official competitive ice dance debut. Skating to music from The Mask, the couple earned a rhythm dance score of 64.15 points to occupy second position.

Last season’s Japanese National Championship silver medalists Rikako Fukase and Eichu Cho are third after the first day of the event with a total score of 63.46 points.

Gold medalist at the 2020 Youth Olympics and silver medalist at last season’s World Junior Championship, 17-year-old Yuma Kagiyama made a successful senior level ISU Grand Prix series debut.

Bronze medalist at last season’s Nationals, Kagiyama landed quad Salchow-triple toe loop combination and a quad toe loop early in his short program but then popped an axel attempt. Still, that was enough for the young athlete to take first place after the short program with a total score of 87.26 points.

Kazuki Tomono won a bronze medal at a Grand Prix event two years ago in Russia; the 22-year-old figure skater is currently in second position after the short program and just needs a successful free skate tomorrow to repeat that feat. Tomono held on to his opening quad toe loop-double toe loop combination and then completed a quad Salchow and a triple axel. He received a total score of 83.27 points.

18-year-old Lucas Tsuyoshi Honda made his international senior level debut, placing third after the short program with a score of 79.22 points. He did not attempt any quads but landed a triple axel, a triple flip-triple toe loop combination, and a triple Lutz.

The competition continues tomorrow; click here for the schedule.

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