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Shizuka Arakawa got off to a solid start by outclassing two-time world bronze medalist and 2003 Grand Prix Finals winner Fumie Suguri to take the lead after the women’s short program at the National Figure Skating Championships on Friday.

News photoShizuka Arakawa performs during the women’s short program at the National Figure Skating
Championships on Friday at Big Hat ice arena in Nagano.

Arakawa, who placed third in the Grand Prix Finals in Colorado earlier this month, received scores as high as 5.8 for both techniques and artistry for her performance to “Swan Lake” at Big Hat ice arena in Nagano Prefecture in the competition using the former 6.0 judging system.

Miki Ando settled for second and Suguri, aiming for her fourth straight national title, took third.

In the men’s short program, Yamato Tamura of Nihon University, who announced last month he will end his skating career after this season, took full advantage of a field missing injury-plagued world bronze medalist Takeshi Honda to grab the lead.

Tamura moved a step closer to claiming his second national crown and first in sixth meets despite falling on a quadruple jump attempt while 18-year-old Yasuharu Nanri, who placed third at this year’s national junior championships, followed in second in his nationals debut. Shinya Yoshida took third and Daisuke Takahashi fourth.

Honda is currently nursing a sprained right ankle and has opted out of the three-day competition which also serves as a qualifier for the world championships to be held in Dortmund, Germany, in March.

In ice dancing, the pair of Nozomi Watanabe and Akiyuki Kido maintained their overnight lead after collecting the highest scores in the original dance.

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