Figure Skating | ICE TIME

Lack of strength only thing holding Miyahara back

by Jack Gallagher

“Exquisite performance, beautiful skating skills, lovely likeness. When she lands the jumps it’s as though the blades are kissing the ice. It’s so soft. Hardly any sound.”

There was high praise for Satoko Miyahara’s free skate at Skate America on Saturday from a Eurosport2 announcer, but the judges had the final say in the matter.

Miyahara put on an excellent performance to “Un Sospiro” in Milwaukee, but only came away with the bronze medal behind Russia’s Evgenia Medvedeva and American Gracie Gold due to technical problems within her program. It would be difficult not to call the start to the Grand Prix season a disappointment for the world silver medalist.

The Kyoto native placed third in both the short and free programs and was troubled by her triple flip, which she under-rotated in both. Miyahara fell on her triple lutz in the free skate and also received low marks for her step sequence.

Miyahara’s program component score of 63.90 was significantly less than both Medvedeva and Gold in the free skate.

Strength still seems to be an issue on jumps for the lithe Miyahara, who at 17 is visibly much thinner than almost all of her opponents. Her presentation skills are both refined and elegant, but if she wants to contend for the world title this season she is going to have to eliminate her jump issues.

Though weight training is not often associated with figure skating, Ice Time wonders if just a bit of it might help Miyahara improve her jumping.

Miyahara worked with Ilia Kulik, the men’s gold medalist at the Nagano Olympics, on her jumps this summer in Southern California, but the feeling here is that she still has to find a way to generate more energy going into them.

“I feel Japanese skaters lack a bit of power compared to skaters from other countries, so I want to see her (Miyahara) improve on that,” Miyahara’s coach Mie Hamada told International Figure Skating magazine in a recent interview.

Dedication, however, is not one of Miyahara’s shortcomings, according to Hamada.

“Satoko really is a hard worker and truly special. First of all, she never complains and she does what you ask of her,” Hamada commented to IFS. “Not only that, she practices thoughtfully. She also has a very pleasant disposition. She’s serious and has a good attitude towards learning. Up until now, there has never been a second when I thought she was slacking off.”

Hamada, along with Yamato Tamura, has coached both juniors Yuna Shiraiwa and Marin Honda to successful seasons that have seen them book spots in the Junior Grand Prix Final. Hamada has coached Miyahara since she was 6 years old.

Fearless: Shoma Uno’s senior debut was a big success, as he came away with the silver medal at Skate America. Uno, the reigning world junior champion, fell on his quadruple toe loop in his short program and was in fourth place going into the free skate, but came up with a sensational free skate to finish second behind American Max Aaron.

Uno, who won the free skate, showed real style and panache competing to “Violin Fantasy on Puccini’s Turandot” and “Nessun Dorma.” He was helped considerably by landing a quad toe loop/double toe loop combination late in his program after hitting a quad earlier in his program.

I particularly liked the way Uno utilized the spread eagle twice in his short program. He clearly is not lacking for poise and his flair for showmanship will serve him well as he progresses in the senior ranks.

Next up: The GP circuit moves to Lethbridge, Alberta, this week for Skate Canada, which begins on Friday. Fans should be treated to a real show as Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu is scheduled to battle three-time world champion Patrick Chan, who returns to competition there after taking last season off.

Daisuke Murakami will join Hanyu at Skate Canada, while Kanako Murakami and Yuka Nagai will represent Japan in the women’s field.

Full house: Legendary coach Frank Carroll, who counts Daisuke Murakami as one of his students, told icenetwork.com that he is not looking to add any more skaters to his stable in Los Angeles.

“I’m in a really good place,” the 77-year-old Carroll told the website. “I am not taking on any more students. I have had a number of wonderful skaters who have asked me to take them on but I only am responsible for Gracie and her sister, Carly, Daisuke Murakami, Scott Dyer and Denis Ten …”

Carroll said in the interview that he is cutting back on his traveling, but hopes to continue through the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.