Kaori Sakamoto leads after short program at Japanese Nationals

Kaori Sakamoto at the 90th All Japan Figure Skating Championships on December 23, 2021 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)

At this season’s Japanese Championships – taking place through this weekend in Saitama – Kaori Sakamoto claimed the lead of the women’s discipline after the short program, while Misato Komatsubara and Tim Koleto lead the ice dance discipline after the rhythm dance.

Six women received scores in the seventies and are separated by less than seven total points, but 2019 Japanese national champion Kaori Sakamoto leads the field by almost five points from her nearest rival.

The 21-year-old figure skater began her short program routine with a double axel, later landing a triple Lutz and a triple flip-triple toe loop combination. She received level four grades on all of her spins and on her step sequence. Sakamoto earned a score of 79.23 points for her presentation.

2018 World silver medalist Wakaba Higuchi is a three-time Japanese national runner-up and currently stands in second place heading into Saturday’s free skate event. The 20-year-old figure skater started her performance with a double axel. She then completed a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination and a triple flip. Higuchi earned about two points less for each the technical evaluation and the program component evaluation than Sakamoto and received a short program score of 74.66 points.

2020 Japanese junior national champion Mana Kawabe began her short program routine with a triple axel, and later landed a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination and a triple flip, to take third place after the first day of the competition. The 17-year-old was a silver medalist at the Japanese stage of the International Skating Union (ISU) Grand Prix series this season and is a strong candidate for her nation’s Olympic team. She is currently last than a half of a point short of second place with a result of 74.27 points.

Results after short program:

  1. Kaori Sakamoto – 79.23
  2. Wakaba Higuchi – 74.66
  3. Mana Kawabe – 74.27
  4. Satoko Miyahara – 73.76
  5. Mai Mihara – 73.66
  6. Rino Matsuike – 72.31
  7. Rion Sumiyoshi – 67.39
  8. Rinka Watanabe – 65.07
  9. Mone Chiba – 64.41
  10. Azusa Tanaka – 63.92
  11. Ayumi Shibayama – 62.48
  12. Mako Yamashita – 61.84
  13. Hanna Yoshida – 61.35
  14. Yuhana Yokoi – 59.84
  15. Ibuki Satoh – 59.38
  16. Hina Takeno – 59.33
  17. Akari Matsubara – 59.13
  18. Chisato Uramatsu – 58.41
  19. Niina Takeno – 58.36
  20. Nana Araki – 57.11
  21. Yuna Shiraiwa – 56.93
  22. Ayumi Kagotani – 55.80
  23. Marin Honda – 55.73
  24. Miyabi Oba – 55.69

Did not qualify for free skate:

  1. Nonoka Noguchi – 55.36
  2. Saki Miyake – 53.50
  3. Ami Nakai – 52.65
  4. Misaki Morishita – 48.37
  5. Rin Nitaya – 47.21
  6. Yuna Aoki – 46.90

Judges’ Scores


Ice dance; results after rhythm dance:

  1. Misato Komatsubara & Tim Koleto – 68.16
  2. Kana Muramoto & Daisuke Takahashi – 63.35
  3. Kiria Hirayama & Aru Tateno – 58.93
  4. Ayumi Takanami & Shingo Nishiyama – 58.10

Judges’ Scores

Misato Komatsubara & Tim Koleto:

Kana Muramoto & Daisuke Takahashi:

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