Recap of All-Japan Championships 2023, Surprise Italian Nationals News, Spanish Nationals Controversy, and a Quick Year-in-Review
We’re back and talking about the All-Japan Championships 2023, where some of the best figure skating of the season-to-date took place. With deep Men’s and Women’s fields—led by reigning World Champions, Shoma Uno and Kaori Sakamoto—this national competition was stronger than most International events. And the Men’s event especially lived up to all of the hype!
The top six skaters in this field are all amazing, but there can only be one champion — and Shoma Uno had just enough to pull off his another nationals victory. Shoma’s win here ties him with skating legend, Yuzuru Hanyu, with both now having six titles.
In the silver spot, Yuma Kagiyama continued his comeback and delivered an especially gorgeous free skate to edge out the incredibly “on” Sota Yamamoto. Sota took the bronze, but may have had the best competition of his career with two stellar skates.
In another deep field that included some of the top women in the world, the decisive victory of Kaori Sakamoto was even more impressive. Queen Kaori continued to dominate the season with two solid performances — giving her national title number four.
Mone Chiba, who had a rough Grand Prix series, showed up big here and took silver with two effervescent skates. In third, the brilliant juniors skater Mao Shimada showed she is in fact human with a few errors. Still, Mao is the definition of “one to watch” in the future — she’s a powerhouse who has everything.
Ice Dance Competition
While the teams competing here are not a super competitive internationally, the top three all put on entertaining performances, and the younger skaters particularly looked quite promising.
With their fifth All Japan title, Misato Komatsubara & Tim Koleto looked comfortable and confident — especially in their beautifully emotional free dance.
In second, the relatively new partnership of Azusa Tanaka & Shingo Nishiyama presented two lovely performances—most noteworthy being their fun and campy Rhythm Dance being to music from the Super Mario Brothers game!
In third, another promising young team of Utana Yoshida & Masaya Morita had some fairly big mistakes, but look to be a threat in Japan as they evolve together.
With reigning World Champions Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara out with injury, there was only one other senior pairs team that qualified to skate here — Yuna Nagaoka & Sumitada Moriguchi. To earn the national title, they skated both their short and long programs and did a great job under the unusual circumstances.