• Staff Report


Marin Honda is in second place after the short program at the world junior championships in Debrecen, Hungary, on Friday. Honda is in a statistical tie for the lead with Russia’s Alisa Fedichkina with 66.11 points heading into Saturday’s free skate.

Honda, a 14-year-old from Kyoto, is in second due to Fedichkina’s higher technical element score (38.16 to 37.57).

Wakaba Higuchi, who placed second at the senior nationals this season behind Satoko Miyahara, is in third on 58.05. Higuchi was considered one of the favorites coming into the event. She finished third at last year’s world juniors.

Yuna Shiraiwa is eighth with 56.23.

Honda skated to “Spring Sonata No. 5” and landed a triple loop/triple toe loop combination, a double axel and a triple flip. She received level-fours for her spins and step sequence.

“I’m satisfied with today’s performance and I hope I can do the same tomorrow (in the free skate),” Honda was quoted as saying by the ISU website. She earned the bronze medal at the Junior Grand Prix Final earlier this season in Barcelona, Spain.

Higuchi performed to “Mambo Fantasy” and under-rotated both ends of her triple lutz/triple toe loop combo.

“I was very upset because my jumps weren’t as good as I wanted,” Higuchi stated. “I absolutely want to improve this in the free program and perform much better since I am aware that I am capable of much more. This competition is very important for me so I had been training very hard and hopefully my free program will be much better and I will be able to skate clean.”

Japanese-American Tomoki Hiwatashi captured the bronze medal in the men’s competition. Hiwatashi, from Hoffman Estates, Illinois, made the podium with a total of 222.52 points.

Israel’s Daniel Samohin (236.65) won the title, with Canada’s Nicolas Nadeau (224.76) taking second. The turnaround for both Samohin and Nadeau was striking, as they were ninth and eighth, respectively, after Wednesday’s short program.

Hiwatashi, who was sixth after the short program, hit eight triple jumps in his free skate to a Charlie Chaplin medley.

“I came here as a substitute for Nathan Chen and I wasn’t expecting to get this position right now. I was only aiming for top eight or 10,” Hiwatashi commented. “I just wanted America to get three places for junior worlds. It was really fun out there, I did a clean program. When I landed the second triple axel I just felt I was going to make it.”

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