Behind the stellar performances of Satoko Miyahara and Shoma Uno and a surprising contribution from retired star Nobunari Oda, Japan claimed its second straight Japan Open championship on Saturday.
The victory at Saitama Super Arena was Japan's eighth in the invitational event that includes one team from North America and one from Europe. Four skaters from each team, two men and two women, skate a free program. The Europeans finished second and the North Americans third.
Miyahara scored 143.39 points to finish second to Russia's Evgenia Medvedeva (147.07), while Japan's Wakaba Higuchi was fifth with 116.99. Because the competition is not official, Miyahara's score did not count as a new personal best, yet she was pleased with the results from her new routine ahead of the beginning of the International Skate Union Grand Prix series.
"I was able to skate the way I wanted to on a big stage. I think it's a good start," said the 18-year-old Miyahara, who finished fifth at last season's world championships.
Uno nailed a quad flip en route to winning the men's program with 198.55, which would also have been his personal best. Oda, a former Olympian who currently coaches and performs professionally, hit a quad toe loop and finished third with 178.72. Spain's Javier Fernandez (192.20) was second.