NAEBA, NIIGATA PREF. – Aiko Uemura had to settle for a seventh-place finish in her homecoming in the women’s moguls at a World Cup meet on Saturday, but the Japanese freestyle ace was impressed with her speed in what is still a work in progress.
Uemura, 32, had the second-best finish among Japanese athletes behind Arisa Murata’s sixth in a weather-hit event at Naeba Ski Resort — the first in two seasons in Japan — where Olympic champion Hannah Kearney won her 16th consecutive title.
“I was able to ski differently here than at other World Cups. I think I had been holding back in my previous meets and just trying to be clean, so I wasn’t skiing fast enough,” said Uemura, who placed fourth in her last major competition at the Vancouver Olympics.
She timed 24.72 seconds in her final run for the fastest in the women’s field, and 0.09 better than Kearney.