DEBRECEN, HUNGARY – Marin Honda set personal bests in both the women’s short and free programs en route to her first victory at the World Junior Figure Skating Championships on Saturday.
The 14-year-old became the seventh Japanese skater to accomplish the feat, collecting a total of 192.98 points after a first-place free program performance at the Fonix Arena that earned her 126.87 points.
“I really enjoyed my skating. I wasn’t nervous at all,” said Honda, a Kansai University Junior High School student.
“It was my best free program performance ever. I was aiming for a podium finish so I’m happy.”
After finishing third at the Junior Grand Prix Final last December, Honda, whose younger sister Miyu is a popular TV celebrity, increased her training time in the hopes of a podium spot in her world championships debut.
After the short program on Friday, she was ranked second behind Russian skater Alisa Fedichkina.
In her free skating program on the final day of the seven-day event, she safely landed all her jumps, including a triple Lutz and triple Salchow-triple toe loop, and eclipsed her personal best by 3.57 points for a come-from-behind victory.
Maria Sotskova of Russia came second with 188.72 points, followed by two Japanese, Wakaba Higuchi (183.73) and Yuna Shiraiwa (171.59).
Higuchi, fifth after the short program and seemingly out of medal contention, found herself in the free skate.
“I thought I had no chance to stand on the podium,” she said. “But things turned around as I was able to skate easily.”
Kanako Murakami was the last Japanese to win the annual international competition for juniors — between the age of 13 and 18 — in 2010, when she won the women’s gold at the junior worlds. Murakami also won the Junior Grand Prix Final that season.