Kaori Sakamoto wins second Japanese national title; Misato Komatsubara and Tim Koleto win fourth consecutive

Kaori Sakamoto during day three of the 90th All Japan Figure Skating Championships on December 25, 2021 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)

The first medals were given out at the 2022 Japanese Figure Skating Championships today – Kaori Sakamoto celebrated her second national title in the women’s discipline, while Misato Komatsubara and Tim Koleto won their fourth consecutive gold medals in ice dance.

A national champion during the 2018-2019 season, Kaori Sakamoto finally returned to the top step of the podium when it mattered most – during the 2021-2022 Olympic season. The 21-year-old figure skater held an almost five-point lead after the short program and even extended it following her free skate performance.

Skating to a mixture of No More Fight Left In Me by Imany and Armand Amar as well as Tris by Ellie Goulding and Junkie XL, Sakamoto began her routine with a double axel, a triple Lutz, a triple flip-double toe loop combination, and a triple Salchow. In the second half of the performance, she completed a triple flip-triple toe loop combination, a double axel-triple toe loop-double toe loop combination, and a triple loop. Sakamoto received a score of 154.83 points for the presentation and earned a total competition score of 234.06 points.

A multiple-time medalist at the Japanese Nationals, 20-year-old Wakaba Higuchi won her fourth national silver medal. Skating to music from The Lion King, Higuchi started her free skate program with a triple axel – completing it but stepping out on the landing. She then landed a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, a triple Salchow, and a double axel. Later, her second triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination was deemed under-rotated but Higuchi successfully executed a triple loop-double toe loop-double loop combination and completed a final triple flip. She received a score of 147.12 points for the performance and earned a total competition score of 221.78 points.

17-year-old Mana Kawabe has been enjoying a good season so far – which includes a silver medal at the Japanese stage of the International Skating Union (ISU) Grand Prix series last month – and now added a bronze medal at the national championships. The 2020 Japanese Junior national champion began her free skate program with an excellent triple axel, next completing a triple Lutz-double toe loop combination. Kawabe received a negative grade of execution on her subsequent triple loop and triple Lutz jumps but executed a double axel-triple toe loop-double toe loop combination well. She culminated her routine with a triple flip-triple toe loop combination and a triple Salchow. Kawabe received 135.38 points for her free skate presentation and earned a total score of 209.65 points.

Final Results

  1. Kaori Sakamoto – 234.06
  2. Wakaba Higuchi – 221.78
  3. Mana Kawabe – 209.65
  4. Mai Mihara – 206.86
  5. Satoko Miyahara – 206.51
  6. Rinka Watanabe – 199.15
  7. Rino Matsuike – 198.77
  8. Rion Sumiyoshi – 189.16
  9. Hanna Yoshida – 187.44
  10. Ayumi Shibayama – 186.12
  11. Mone Chiba – 184.30
  12. Yuhana Yokoi – 183.84
  13. Mako Yamashita – 179.61
  14. Nana Araki – 174.25
  15. Ibuki Satoh – 171.86
  16. Akari Matsubara – 170.73
  17. Hina Takeno – 169.57
  18. Azusa Tanaka – 168.45
  19. Miyabi Oba – 164.96
  20. Ayumi Kagotani – 158.39
  21. Marin Honda – 156.53
  22. Chisato Uramatsu – 152.86
  23. Yuna Shiraiwa – 145.89
  24. Niina Takeno – 141.84

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


Misato Komatsubara and Tim Koleto during day three of the 90th All Japan Figure Skating Championships on December 25, 2021 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)

Ice dancers Misato Komatsubara and Tim Koleto celebrated their fourth consecutive Japanese national title on Saturday. The couple led after the rhythm dance and managed to maintain first place after a comeback attempt by Kana Muramoto and Daisuke Takahashi.

Skating to music from Memoirs of a Geisha, Komatsubara and Koleto received a score of 110.01 points for their free dance presentation – including a one-point deduction for an extended lift in the second half of the routine. Their result was the second highest score of the free dance event; however, enough to keep the top spot in the overall standings as they held a nearly five-point advantage following their first performance. Komatsubara and Koleto earned a total competition score of 178.17 points.

Kana Muramoto – a three-time Japanese national champion with the late Chris Reed – and Daisuke Takahashi – the 2010 Olympic bronze medalist and 2010 World champion in men’s singles skating – went into the free dance event in second place. Performing their routine to La Bayadère by Ludwig Minkus, the second-year duo received the competition’s top score of 112.96 points for the long program but had to settle with the silver medals for the second consecutive season. Muramoto and Takahashi earned a total competition score of 176.31 points.

Final Results

  1. Misato Komatsubara & Tim Koleto – 178.17
  2. Kana Muramoto & Daisuke Takahashi – 176.31
  3. Ayumi Takanami & Shingo Nishiyama – 148.29
  4. Kiria Hirayama & Aru Tateno – 147.39

Judges’ Scores

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