TAIPEI – Fifteen-year-old Marin Honda could not defend her title at the World Junior Figure Skating Championships on Saturday, losing out to Russia’s 14-year-old Alina Zagitova despite posting her highest scores.
Honda, who became the seventh Japanese to win the tournament last year, logged personal-best scores in both the short skate on Friday (68.35) and free program on Saturday (133.26) for a total score of 201.61.
But Junior Grand Prix Finals winner Zagitova scored junior records of 70.58 and 138.02, respectively, for a total of 208.60 points to lift the trophy.
Kaori Sakamoto finished third with 195.54 points and Yuna Shiraiwa fifth with 174.38.
“There’s frustration to be honest, but this is the result after I gave everything I had to give. I managed to do the things I can,” said Honda, who was fourth at the national championships in December.
Honda struggled earlier in the season and admitted to not enjoying skating due to the pressure of being the world junior champion. But she rose to the occasion here, landing five triple jumps and getting level four ratings for her spins and steps.
“I’d like to say congratulations to the winner. I think I’ll be able to compete at the senior level now, and want to reach another height during the offseason,” she said.
Sakamoto, 16, was third at the Junior Grand Prix Finals in December in Marseille, France, and followed it up with another podium finish.
“I’ve finally achieved my target. I have no regret at all,” she said. “I’ll try to hone my techniques and get good results.”