Figure Skating

Ayaka Hosoda very likely to continue competitive career next season

by Jack Gallagher

Staff Writer

Veteran skater Ayaka Hosoda, who stole the show with her triple axels at the Japan Championships in December, is very likely to continue her skating career, The Japan Times has learned.

In an exclusive interview with Hosoda on Tuesday, the jumping sensation said, “I’m willing to keep skating if the Japan Skating Federation gives me assignments to international competitions.”

Hosoda made a huge splash in Osaka, where she finished eighth at the nationals after landing one triple axel in her short program and two in her free skate. It was a stunning performance by the Kansai University student, who had never placed higher than 15th in six previous appearances at the senior nationals.

The Osaka native, who turned 24 on Sunday, indicated before the nationals that she was leaning toward retirement, but repeatedly told Japanese media “no comment” afterward when questioned about the matter.

Hosoda captured the attention of the nation with her showing in Osaka, seemingly defying logic by mastering the difficult 3½-rotation jump at an advanced age. Her achievement was even more incredible, considering she did it while competing against stars like Rika Kihira, Kaori Sakamoto, Satoko Miyahara and Mai Mihara at the event.

To earn international assignments from the JSF, Hosoda would have to be designated as a “Special Selection Athlete” for the 2019-20 season by the governing body. The JSF has three levels for the category — a top level, then “A” and “B” classifications.

Even if Hosoda was chosen as a “B” athlete, it would be almost automatic that she would earn international assignments. Based on her performance at the nationals and the influence her coach Mie Hamada wields, it is hard to envision a scenario where Hosoda does not receive a special selection tag for next season.

This season’s special selection athletes were announced following a board meeting in late April of last year.

Hosoda is part of Hamada’s team, which includes Kihira, Miyahara and Yuna Shiraiwa, at the Kansai University rink.

An international assignment for Hosoda would complete an amazing comeback, as it will have been nearly 10 years since she last represented Japan overseas. Hosada placed seventh in the senior women’s field at the Crystal Gala in Galati, Romania, back in November of 2009.