PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA – Shoma Uno looked in good form in a run-through of his short program to “Winter” during an official practice at the training rink beneath Gangneung Ice Arena on Thursday afternoon. The young star landed several crisp quadruple jumps while coming through the session unscathed.
Uno will take the ice first for Japan when the team competition commences here on Friday morning with the men’s short program. Keiji Tanaka, who will compete in the free skate in the team event, did not turn up for practice on Thursday.
Dressed in black practice gear, Uno moved effortlessly across the ice and appeared confident while taking instructions from coach Mihoko Higuchi behind the boards.
The pairs short program is set for Friday afternoon, with Miu Suzaki and Ryuichi Kihara to skate for Japan.
Japan finished fifth in the team event in Sochi four years ago.
While Uno was on the ice, coach Brian Orser spoke to the media in the mixed zone and offered another update on Yuzuru Hanyu, saying the superstar may attempt up to five quadruple jumps in his free skate.
“Yuzu is planning two quad toe loops, two quad salchows and possibly a quad loop for the free skate,” Orser stated, while continuing to talk positively about the reigning gold medalist’s fitness.
Orser is perhaps the smartest man in skating, so one has to wonder if there isn’t something of a mind game going on here as his comments continue to ramp up. Surely all of Hanyu’s competitors or their coaches are reading what Orser is saying and being impacted by his statements.
With some ready to count Hanyu out up until just recently, Orser’s comments could certainly be unsettling to other skaters. Which could be exactly the point of why he is making them.
It is important to remember that the battle in skating is not conducted only on the ice.
Orser also relayed a comical incident relating to his comments earlier this week about Hanyu’s health.
“I exchanged texts with Yuzu to ask if it was OK if I gave some update to the press,” Orser said. “Yuzu wrote back, ‘Yes. It’s OK. I already read them.’ ”
Meanwhile, Satoko Miyahara and Kaori Sakamoto both had productive practice sessions at the training rink on Wednesday afternoon. Miyahara worked on her free skate to “Madame Butterfly,” while Sakamoto ran through her short program to “Moonlight Sonata.”
Both appeared sharp as they worked on elements during the session, before departing without speaking to the media.