For the second time, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the city of Saitama held an all-Japanese version of the Japan Open team figure skating competition on Saturday. Team Blue’s Shoma Uno and Wakaba Higuchi won the men’s and the women’s events, respectively, and helped their team defeat Team Red by the score of 896.86 points to 841.12 points.
As was the case in 2020, the competition featured Japanese figure skaters split into Team Blue and Team Red, instead of the traditional format of Japan vs Europe vs North America.
In the men’s event, Shoma Uno fell on his opening quad loop and doubled his Salchow attempt but then completed a quad toe loop, a triple axel, a quad flip, a quad toe loop-double toe loop combination, and a triple axel-Euler-triple flip combination. The 2018 Olympic silver medalist received a score of 181.21 points for his performance.
2019-2020 International Skating Union (ISU) Junior Grand Prix Final winner Shun Sato – another member of Team Blue – included four quads in his opening four jumping sequences. The 17-year-old landed a quad Lutz, a quad flip, a quad toe loop-triple toe loop combination, and a quad toe loop. Later in the routine, Sato completed a triple axel-Euler-triple Salchow combination, a triple flip, and a triple axel-double toe loop combination. He received a score of 179.32 points.
The top ranked member of Team Red, 2017 Winter Universiade silver medalist Keiji Tanaka, was third in the event. The 26-year-old doubled his opening Salchow but then landed a quad Salchow in his next attempt. For his remaining jumping elements, Tanaka did not include anymore quads; he landed a triple axel, a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, a triple axel-double toe loop combination, a triple flip-Euler-double Salchow combination, and a triple loop. Tanaka earned a score of 163.93 points.
Full results of men’s event, with judges’ scores:
- Shoma UNO (Blue) – 181.21
- Shun SATO (Blue) – 179.32
- Keiji TANAKA (Red) – 163.93
- Sota YAMAMOTO (Blue) – 156.13
- Kazuki TOMONO (Red) – 147.44
- Sena MIYAKE (Red) – 126.46
In the women’s event, 2018 World silver medalist Wakaba Higuchi landed her opening triple axel and ended up with the top score in the competition for Team Blue. The 20-year-old from Tokyo also landed a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination and a triple Salchow in the first half of the routine. Later in the program, Higuchi completed a double axel, doubled a Lutz attempt, landed a triple loop-double toe loop combination, and finished her jumps with a triple flip-double toe loop-double loop combination. She received a score of 136.27 points for her presentation.
Fourth at the Japanese Nationals last season, 16-year-old Rino Matsuike attempted a triple axel to begin her performance but her jump was downgraded. The highest ranking member of Team Red avoided falling and kept her team in the hunt. She later landed a triple Lutz, a double axel, a triple loop, a triple Lutz-triple toe loop-double toe loop combination, a triple Salchow-triple toe loop combination, and a triple flip-double toe loop combination. Matsuike received a score of 135.12 points.
Fourth at the 2020 Winter Youth Olympics, 16-year-old figure skater Mana Kawabe successfully completed a triple axel. Another member of Team Red in the women’s event, Kawabe also landed a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, a triple loop, a triple Lutz-double toe loop combination, a double axel-triple toe loop-double toe loop combination, a triple flip, and a triple Salchow. She finished the competition earning a score of 134.91 points.
2018 Four Continents winner and 2019 Japanese national champion Kaori Sakamoto also represented Team Red but finished fourth in the women’s event. She received the highest program component score of 69.22 points but lost out due to the element score and also received a one point deduction for falling on her final pose after having completed all of the jumping sequences without falls. The 21-year-old received a score of 133.26 points.
Full results of women’s event, with judges’ scores:
- Wakaba HIGUCHI (Blue) – 136.27
- Rino MATSUIKE (Red) – 135.12
- Mana KAWABE (Red) – 134.91
- Kaori SAKAMOTO (Red) – 133.26
- Mai MIHARA (Blue) – 124.24
- Satoko MIYAHARA (Blue) – 119.69
- Team Blue – 896.86
- Team Red – 841.12