GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA – Satoko Miyahara and Kaori Sakamoto came through practice unscathed on Thursday morning at Gangneung Ice Arena ahead of Friday’s free skate.
Sakamoto looked especially sharp during the 40-minute session, tearing off jump after jump, before a crowd of a couple thousand who attended. Her run-through to “Amelie” was smooth, as it has been all season.
The 19-year-old Miyahara fell on a triple salchow while going through her program to “Madame Butterfly,” but otherwise looked solid, landing several combination jumps.
With Miyahara and Sakamoto sitting in fourth and fifth place, respectively, after Wednesday’s short program, it looks like a three-way battle for the bronze medal.
Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond (78.87) is in third place, with Miyahara (75.94) and Sakamoto (73.18) both within striking distance.
Of the five skaters who appeared for training, Miyahara was the only one who wore her costume. The other four were dressed in warm-up clothes.
Italy’s Carolina Kostner, the bronze medalist in Sochi, was the lone skater of the six in the final group not to turn up.
Both Miyahara, a four-time national champion, and Sakamoto, the winner of the Four Continents last month, looked upbeat as they walked through the mixed zone afterward and each gave a short comment to the media.
“I’m feeling good,” Miyahara stated after the session. “One more day to go.”
“I will do my best,” the 17-year-old Sakamoto said with a big smile.
In Wednesday’s draw for the free skate, Miyahara drew position No. 19, which means she will be the first skater in the final group of six. She will go on at 1:08 p.m.
Sakamoto pulled position No. 21, so she will take the ice third in the last group at 1:24 p.m.
Leader Alina Zagitova (82.92) of the Olympic Athletes from Russia will follow Sakamoto at No. 22, with compatriot Evgenia Medvedeva (81.61), who is in second place, slated to be the final skater in position No. 24.
Both Zagitova and Medvedeva set world records in the short program and will determine who gets the gold on Friday.
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