SAPPORO – Shoma Uno did enough in the free skate to overtake China’s Jin Boyang and win the men’s figure skating gold on Sunday, the final day of the Sapporo 2017 Asian Winter Games.
Uno, who sat 0.43 points behind Jin after the short program, made landing mistakes but was awarded 188.84 points for a 281.27 total, while Jin could only post 187.22 in his free skate for a total of 280.08 at Makomanai Indoor Skating Rink.
China’s Yan Han finished third on 271.86, and Takahito Mura fourth on 263.31.
“It wasn’t my best performance but I kept pushing my combination jumps through to the end, and that might have won me this,” Uno said. “My form was better today over the six minutes, unlike in the short program.”
“I’m happy that I was able to win, although I could enjoy it more had it come after a performance in which I gave my very best. I’m not satisfied with some things and I’m frustrated about that,” Uno said.
Before the final result was known, Uno was downbeat about his prospects when addressing a free skate performance that saw him under-rotate his opening quadruple loop and also fail to land his quad toeloop and a late combination.
“I didn’t have much time after the Four Continents. I thought things would improve by the time I came to compete again, but that wasn’t the case,” Uno said. “But it’s not just me who’s had a hard schedule and I feel I lack the experience to prepare properly.”
But Jin’s mistakes on his quad toeloop and triple flip late on, coupled with a lower element score, saw Uno take the title.
Jin, who generally made fewer errors, said Uno’s mistakes were not significant.
“His mistakes weren’t that costly and I made mistakes of my own,” Jin said. “Brilliance from a competitor gives me courage and something to strive for in training.”
Despite his struggles, Uno is not thinking about taking the easy road with less-complex jumps at future competitions.
“There’s no chance of me passing up a chance to try jumps that I can execute,” Uno said. “I don’t want the same things happening in the future, and I’ll definitely want the challenge again.”
Mura, who had a solid short program two days ago, started off well with his quad combination before under-rotating his triple-triple combination in a shaky mid-performance period. But, in the end, he was able to give another steady, satisfying display.
“I have struggled to put two good performances together lately so I’m pleased,” he said. “I’ve been trying to jot things down, in a lot of detail, on things that I used to have only kept in my mind vaguely. I have achieved a sense of clarity from that as I go into competitions.”
Kobayashi triumphs again
Yuki Kobayashi won the women’s 15-km free mass start competition on Sunday for her fourth gold in cross-country skiing at the Sapporo Asian Winter Games.
Earlier in the week at Shirahatayama Open Stadium, Kobayashi struck gold in the 5-km classical, 10-km free and 4×5-km relay.
On the last day of the winter sports event run by the Olympic Council of Asia, Kobayashi clocked 43 minutes, 28.6 seconds in the race in which competitors start at the same time in a large group rather than at intervals. Lee Chae-won of South Korea came home 3.9 seconds behind Kobayashi for silver.
“I hope I was able to promote the sport by winning four gold,” said Kobayashi.
“I decided halfway through the race that I was going to save my energy and skied rather slowly. I hope to use this as a stepping stone as I try and meet the qualifying standard for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics (in February 2018),” she said.
China’s Li Hongxue clinched the bronze with a time of 43:33.8, while Kozue Takizawa missed out on a podium spot, finishing fourth in 43:38.5.
Also representing Japan, Chisa Obayashi was fifth and Hikari Miyazaki was 13th.
In the men’s 30-km free mass start, Akira Lenting captured his third gold medal this week following success in the 10-km classical and 4×7.5-km relay.
The Japanese skier pipped Kazakhstan’s Sergey Cherepanov in a photo finish when the two dipped for the line after more than an hour and 20 minutes of racing. The pair finished with the same time (1:22:54.0) but Lenting with the glory.
“I was thinking I need to be among the top three when I entered the stadium and then I could pull away down the final stretch. It went pretty much as planned. I couldn’t live up to my goal of winning four golds, but it was a good event,” he said of the Feb. 19-26 games.
In freestyle skiing, Ikuma Horishima and Arisa Murata won gold in the men’s and women’s moguls, respectively.
Horishima, who also won the dual moguls, earned a total score of 90.35, followed by Choi Jae-woo of South Korea (88.55) and Dimitriy Reikherd of Kazakhstan (85.69).
Murata collected 79.37 points for the top podium spot, Yuliya Galysheva of Kazakhstan (79.02) took silver and Miki Ito (75.52) third.
In biathlon, Kosuke Ozaki finished third in the men’s 15-km mass start won by Yan Savitskiy of Kazakhstan in 44:12.2. China’s Wang Wenqiang placed second in 44:54.1.
“My skis were flowing and I entered the race in good shape. We still have half the World Cup season left, so I hope to bring more good news to Japan biathlon,” said Ozaki, who posted a time of 45:11.5.
Fuyuko Tachizaki also won bronze in the women’s 12.5-km mass start, in which Galina Vishnevskaya led a Kazakhstan 1-2-3 finish by clocking 39:26.6.
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