Figure Skating

Koshiro Shimada, Yuhana Yokoi lead after short programs at Japan Junior Championships

by Jack Gallagher

Staff Writers

Koshiro Shimada grabbed the lead in the men’s competition after the short program at the Japan Junior Championships on Saturday with a fine performance.

Shimada, who is Japan’s lone qualifier for next month’s Junior Grand Prix Final, looked sharp while landing a triple axel, triple flip and nice triple lutz/triple toe loop combination to “Adios” and earned a score of 82.35 points.

The 17-year-old from Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, received level fours on two of his spins and his step sequence.

“It went well today. I’m looking forward to the free skate,” commented Shimada.

Robert Dierking, who coaches Shimada along with two-time world champion Stephane Lambiel in Switzerland, was also pleased with Shimada’s effort.

“We are very happy with his performance today,” Dierking stated. “There is still room for improvement.”

Tatsuya Tsuboi is second with 78.23 following an inspired effort.

Yuto Kishina (74.26) is third, while Sena Miyake (72.73) is fourth.

Mitsuki Sumoto, the defending champion, doubled his planned triple axel to “Tosca” and is in fifth at 69.89.

Yuhana Yokoi, an 18-year-old from Nagoya, leads the women’s competition with 61.86 points.

Yokoi under-rotated the back end of her opening triple lutz/triple toe loop, but recovered to hit a double axel and triple flip to “The Lion King” to top the field.

Yokoi noted how she and Tsuboi both skated 27th today and also train at the same rink.

“We train together and sometimes have the same classes, so I was happy that we could both do well today,” stated Yokoi, a student at Chukyo University High School.

Nana Araki (58.51) is in second place, while Moa Iwano (56.31) is third.

Araki’s opening triple lutz/triple toe loop was shaky, but she went on to land a double axel and triple flip.

Moa Iwano, a 14-year-old from Kobe, also under-rotated the back end of her opening triple lutz/triple toe loop and her triple flip, but displayed fine artistry to “Asturias” and received a big ovation from the audience.

She received level fours on all three of her spins.

“I’m so happy with today’s performance. It went very well,” Iwano commented. “Practice has been helping me improve my jumps but I still need to work more on them.”

Yuna Aoki (55.23) is in fourth.

The women’s and men’s free skates are set for Sunday.