It was a mixed weekend for Japan’s top skaters at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Stockholm.
American Nathan Chen landed five quadruple jumps in the men’s free skate on Saturday to top faltering Olympic champ Yuzuru Hanyu and collect a third consecutive world title. Japanese skaters came in second, third and fourth, with Yuma Kagiyama, just 17, scoring a personal best to top Hanyu.
In the women’s free skate, a series of errors sent Rika Kihira sliding from second to below sixth-placed compatriot Kaori Sakamoto on Friday. Sixteen-year-old Anna Shcherbakova secured the win in her worlds debut, leading an all-Russian top three.
Things went better for Japanese athletes in other winter sports. Sara Takanashi passed Finnish legend Janne Ahonen’s record for most World Cup ski jumping podium finishes (108) when she came in second in a normal hill event in Russia on Friday.
A day earlier, Ryoyu Kobayashi won the ski flying (ski jump on steroids) World Cup event in Slovenia for his 19th victory on the tour, tying the record for most by a Japanese man in Nordic skiing.
And there’s more: Reira Iwabuchi, 19, finished her FIS Snowboard World Cup season on a high Sunday, winning her first ever slopestyle event and leading a one-two finish for Japan in Switzerland. An honorable mention also goes to Miyabi Onitsuka, who earlier this month in Aspen, Colorado, became the first Japanese to claim a world championships podium finish in a big air event.