KODAMA, OSAKA PREF. – Takahito Mura placed first in the men’s short program at the All-Japan Championships on Friday night, earning 90.34 points to sit ahead of Shoma Uno’s 88.05 in the absence of flu-hit four-time reigning champion Yuzuru Hanyu.
Mura pulled off a nearly flawless routine, nailing his opening quadruple toe loop and a triple lutz/triple toe loop combination in what he described as “a comfortable performance” in the meet doubling as a qualifier for the world championships in Helsinki next March.
“The first half of the season really hasn’t gone well, but I’m ready to battle it out tomorrow as I finished in good shape today,” the 25-year-old said. “I’m looking forward myself in terms of how far I can add on to today’s 90 points.
“I felt the pressure when the crowd went quiet before the start of my step sequence, but the whole place got going in the second half (of the performance) and I’m pleased with that.”
Uno, who won Skate America in October and finished third earlier this month at the Grand Prix Final in France, said he couldn’t focus after a wobbled landing on his initial quad flip prevented him from completing a combination jump and later fell on a quad toe loop.
“I had to think it’s another start even if I miss my (quad) flip, but I couldn’t switch my mind,” said the 19-year-old.
Keiji Tanaka is also cotending for the title after placing third on 85.68 points.
Earlier, Kana Muramoto and Chris Reed kept their overnight lead to win the ice dancing title for the second year in a row.
The duo who topped Thursday’s short dance also won the free dance to log a total score of 158.36, earning 11.28 points more than they did last year.
“I’m satisfied because we were able to give our all from start to finish,” said Muramoto, who paired up with two-time Olympian Reed in June 2015 and is aiming to make it to the top 10 with him at the world championships next March-April in Helsinki.
In the pairs competition, Sumire Suto and Canada’s Francis Boudreau-Audet also triumphed for the second straight year, leading after the short program a day earlier and topping the free skate for a total of 160.25.