Iwano set to compete in Junior Grand Prix series

by

Staff Writer

Moa Iwano, one of Japan’s top novice skaters the past two seasons, has been selected to participate in the upcoming Junior Grand Prix series, The Japan Times has learned.

A skating source confirmed that the 13-year-old Iwano was chosen from among a group of several young skaters who tested before Japan Skating Federation officials at Chukyo University in Nagoya recently.

In an exclusive interview last month, Iwano informed The Japan Times that she would be including a quadruple salchow in her free skate this coming season. The decision could be historic, because no female skater has landed a quadruple jump in international competition for nearly 15 years, since Miki Ando became the first to accomplish the feat at the 2002 JGP Final in The Hague.

Ando went on to become a two-time world champion and skate for Japan in two Olympics.

Iwano has not been given her assignments yet for the JGP season, which comprises seven events and kicks off in Brisbane, Australia, on Aug. 23. The Kobe native won her last competition as a novice in February when she led a Japanese sweep at the Bavarian Open in Oberstdorf, Germany.

The Junior GP Final, which will feature the top six women in the season standings, will be held in conjunction with the senior GP Final in December in Nagoya.

With talented juniors Marin Honda, Kaori Sakamoto and Yuna Shiraiwa moving up to the senior ranks this season, Iwano is one of several youngsters, including Rika Kihira and Mako Yamashita, expected to lead the next generation of Japanese stars on the junior circuit.

Iwano, who trains at the same Kansai University rink in Takatsuki, Osaka Prefecture, as Honda, Shiraiwa and Kihira, finished second last season at Japan’s Advanced Novice Championships.

Honda, Shiraiwa and Kihira are coached by Mie Hamada, while Iwano is mentored by Utako Nagamitsu.

In an ironic twist, Iwano, who is friends with Honda, has posted identical results as the 2016 world junior champion in the novice ranks at the Japan championships in four seasons of competing.

Iwano and Honda both placed second in their first seasons in the Novice B classification, then were the champions the next season.

In the Novice A category, Iwano and Honda came in third in their first campaign, then took second place the following season.

Iwano’s plan to include the quad salchow in her free skate this season has generated considerable buzz in skating circles around the globe. Now the world will be watching as she embarks on her inaugural foray as a junior competitor.