2020-21 Japanese Ladies' Figure Skating

Lunalovesskating

Moonbear power 🐻
Record Breaker
Joined
Jul 3, 2018
Somebody called Higuchi a Japanese Tuktamysheva and I see why but it’s a different scenario. Liza HAS to attempt triple axels (plural) against the quadsters (and an in form Kostornaia) in her country. Higuchi needs the triple axel to have a shot of challenging an in-form Kihira but she can hang with Sakamoto who didn’t do any triple axel or quad - just strong jumping. Sakamoto was totally overscored on PCS but I actually think her lutz has improved more than others are giving credit for. Maybe it still deserves a ! but it’s not an “e” to me. I still can’t quite get behind Sakamoto’s skating though - it’s still too unrefined and the arm movements are still too mechanical and there’s an awkwardness about her. Some parts of her SP are just a little too wild - sometimes I couldn’t tell in her footwork if she was about to stumble or if was intentional. I will say though her speed has improved so much and she is more confident. And the distance on that 2A, wowzers.
Kaori's Lutz was a definite inside edge. A flat edge looks different. JFed has not been calling her Lutz edge all season, so it was not a surprise they would do the same at NHK.

JFed usually has one favorite they push.
JFed has not been as strict with calls as they once were years ago, a few seasons ago they would have given everyone an edge call. Now they barely do that despite many Flutzes and Lips at NHK, even they are starting to learn to play the political game albeit slow. They still give carrots, but ignore edges nowadays and if they call an edge it's usally a !.
 

Joekaz

On the Ice
Joined
Feb 13, 2018
I think I love her skating more than I hate it lol. She's one of those scrappy skaters, who isn't as elegant but she's trying. And at least if she can't be the most pleasant to watch, she can still make her elements more impressive. Even on her spins I noticed greater attack and speed. She's making technical improvements everywhere and that's nice to see.
She definitely is a hard worker, and her team does a good job of maximizing her potential.
 

Joekaz

On the Ice
Joined
Feb 13, 2018
Makes sense! I think part of the key to Rika's 3A is that she just kinda does it like it's any other jump in her program. Like there's no buildup or telegraphing saying "this is my big ticket element!" Kinda goes both ways for a viewer, if you like the anticipation and buildup, sometimes a telegraphed jump can do that, but a seamlessly done difficult jump with little set-up or a creative set-up is also impressive like "Whoa, that 3A came out of nowhere".
Along that same vein of treating it like any other jump, Wakaba seemed to lose focus after she hit the 3A. She seamed like she wanted to stop and celebrate, as evidenced by her joyous reaction after she finished a somewhat disappointing performance, if winning the event was her main goal instead of landing the 3A. But evidently her team is playing the long game. Interesting to see how it plays out, especially with Sakamoto taking the opposite path.
 

Skatefan15

On the Ice
Joined
Mar 8, 2015
I think I love her skating more than I hate it lol. She's one of those scrappy skaters, who isn't as elegant but she's trying. And at least if she can't be the most pleasant to watch, she can still make her elements more impressive. Even on her spins I noticed greater attack and speed. She's making technical improvements everywhere and that's nice to see.
I love her skating too. Her freeskate the Olympic year was definitely not my favorite but her programs from 2018-19 were gorgeous (that freeskate became one of my favs ever!) Shes definitely trying to be more elegant, which I love to see. And I agree that her spins are so good and fast, especially her new one handed biellmann.
 

Skatefan15

On the Ice
Joined
Mar 8, 2015
Completely off topic but to fully maximize her points, I feel like Kaori should switch her single jump in the short back to loop instead of lutz, since hers is an inside edge. I feel like internationally the bonus you would get from backloading combo is lost when your lutz isn’t a lutz.
 

RafaelAstro

On the Ice
Joined
Mar 22, 2018
I wonder how japan federation will treat Rika Kihira at nationals, since she has not competed in an international or domestic competition all season
 

Flying Feijoa

On the Ice
Joined
Sep 22, 2019
Country
New-Zealand
Kaori's Lutz was a definite inside edge. A flat edge looks different.
Yeah. She has a similar technique to Shoma. At moment of picking it's outside-ish when they draw back it changes to inside.
They both pick with their feet too far apart (to the right, instead of straight behind the skating foot) so the edge sort of pulls over to the left of the picking spot. That takeoff edge should end just before the picking spot, not to the left of it (at least that's what my coach tells me when I mess up).
That's why she occasionally wipes out even on her flip - she picks quite far to the inside (gives a lot of torque but is unstable). She can usually save or even take advantage of it because her lower body is very strong, but it's quite precarious. For old-school textbook, see e.g. Jeff Buttle's flip (clear but shallow inside).
 

Skatefan15

On the Ice
Joined
Mar 8, 2015
I wonder how japan federation will treat Rika Kihira at nationals, since she has not competed in an international or domestic competition all season
Hopefully well, she’s still #1 for Japan and her skating has become more enjoyable each season (especially since she tries different styles each year). I wonder how Rika’s training is going right now? The quad she posted awhile ago was good!
 

Joekaz

On the Ice
Joined
Feb 13, 2018
Hopefully well, she’s still #1 for Japan and her skating has become more enjoyable each season (especially since she tries different styles each year). I wonder how Rika’s training is going right now? The quad she posted awhile ago was good!
It will be interesting seeing her PCS and GOE scores compared to Sakamoto by these judges. Kaori has had alot of competitions already and is sharp right now. The judges in Japan like Rika, but love Kaori,so Kihira needs to be ready. I would also like to see Wakaba(who they hate) skate clean and see how much they lowball her.
 

MiraiFan

On the Ice
Joined
Oct 6, 2016
I really enjoyed the ladies' programs at NHK. For me it was balm for the soul after the Russian cup series. So many beautiful programs, great skating skills, and smiles from the athletes. Very low PCS considering the quality of the skating. I liked Kaori and Wakaba's SP is one of my favorite programs ever. Lovely to see Mai back as well!
 

Skatefan15

On the Ice
Joined
Mar 8, 2015
It will be interesting seeing her PCS and GOE scores compared to Sakamoto by these judges. Kaori has had alot of competitions already and is sharp right now. The judges in Japan like Rika, but love Kaori,so Kihira needs to be ready. I would also like to see Wakaba(who they hate) skate clean and see how much they lowball her.
Unless Rika makes mistakes, she’s going to win. Even if Kaori’s freeskate is 153 again, Rika with 2 3A’s (and 3Lz’s) is higher than that. Also, I don’t know... but I feel like hate is a strong word in terms of how they score Wakaba. A ton of people were underscored on the PCS end of it during NHK. Bottom line is Wakaba made some mistakes and she’s a strong person/skater who will go back and work on them (for the levels). I just hope the judges score everyone fairly, which imo Kaori was at this particular comp. For all we know it could be a completely different judging panel at nationals as well.
 

Joekaz

On the Ice
Joined
Feb 13, 2018
Unless Rika makes mistakes, she’s going to win. Even if Kaori’s freeskate is 153 again, Rika with 2 3A’s (and 3Lz’s) is higher than that. Also, I don’t know... but I feel like hate is a strong word in terms of how they score Wakaba. A ton of people were underscored on the PCS end of it during NHK. Bottom line is Wakaba made some mistakes and she’s a strong person/skater who will go back and work on them (for the levels). I just hope the judges score everyone fairly, which imo Kaori was at this particular comp. For all we know it could be a completely different judging panel at nationals as well.
If you have followed Hihuchi's career I dont see how you can use any other adjective. Do you really think if she was clean last weekend she would have gotten 29 more points? Do the math. She would have been lucky to get 20 more. Sometimes you have to wake up and realize that Lucy is never going to hold the ball still for Charlie Brown to kick. Lol
 

zanadude

Medalist
Joined
Feb 20, 2016
Wakaba is always the bridesmaid, never the bride. She's been on or near the podium at every single senior event she's been to, but never won anything more than a challenger. Just look at all her pictures on Wikipedia...always standing to the left or right of center. And the one time where a mere podium finish would have meant an Olympic birth, she finished fourth. So I think her mental issues remain a greater challenge that her physical ones.
 

Joekaz

On the Ice
Joined
Feb 13, 2018
Wakaba is always the bridesmaid, never the bride. She's been on or near the podium at every single senior event she's been to, but never won anything more than a challenger. Just look at all her pictures on Wikipedia...always standing to the left or right of center. And the one time where a mere podium finish would have meant an Olympic birth, she finished fourth. So I think her mental issues remain a greater challenge that her physical ones.
She does have a worlds silver. How did the other Japanese girls do at the worlds last time? Pressure affects everyone and Wakaba deals with it just as well as most. She skated well at the Nats when she was 4th. A pop in each program was her only mistakes. But she had the most pressure on her as one of the favorites. Rika and Kaori had very little pressure comparatively, as one was a junior and the other a first year senior who wasn't expected to medal. Btw, neither of those 2 have exactly covered themselves in glory many times when the pressure was on either.
 

Skatefan15

On the Ice
Joined
Mar 8, 2015
If you have followed Hihuchi's career I dont see how you can use any other adjective. Do you really think if she was clean last weekend she would have gotten 29 more points? Do the math. She would have been lucky to get 20 more. Sometimes you have to wake up and realize that Lucy is never going to hold the ball still for Charlie Brown to kick. Lol
I have been watching Wakaba since 2015. And from looking at her competitions since then, I just can’t get with the thought that the judges “hate” her. And honestly if Wakaba was clean like we know she can be (landed 3A in short and free, rotating all of her triples w/no pops, and all level 4s) I think she would have gotten about 29 points more.
 

Skatefan15

On the Ice
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Mar 8, 2015
Btw, neither of those 2 have exactly covered themselves in glory many times when the pressure was on either
I kind of disagree with this lol. Rika won her very first senior Grand Prix final (which was a ton of pressure because of the competition there). And while she did bomb a lot of her short programs that season, she came back and won almost every freeskate. And Kaori at her first olympics was 6th, which seems pretty good to me and did relatively good at worlds in 2019 (the competition level was crazy). I absolutely love all these ladies but I’m also not going to act like Wakaba has consistently done well in high pressure situations (2017 worlds and 2018 Grand Prix final). But yeah all ladies at some point have just slightly cracked under pressure. Also, just wanted to reiterate that I have loved Wakaba’s skating for a long time and I love seeing her gain confidence in herself these past few years (don’t want anyone to think I don’t like her or anything).
 

Joekaz

On the Ice
Joined
Feb 13, 2018
I kind of disagree with this lol. Rika won her very first senior Grand Prix final (which was a ton of pressure because of the competition there). And while she did bomb a lot of her short programs that season, she came back and won almost every freeskate. And Kaori at her first olympics was 6th, which seems pretty good to me and did relatively good at worlds in 2019 (the competition level was crazy). I absolutely love all these ladies but I’m also not going to act like Wakaba has consistently done well in high pressure situations (2017 worlds and 2018 Grand Prix final). But yeah all ladies at some point have just slightly cracked under pressure. Also, just wanted to reiterate that I have loved Wakaba’s skating for a long time and I love seeing her gain confidence in herself these past few years (don’t want anyone to think I don’t like her or anything).
6th place at Olympics, when 2/3 of the way through the LP she looked like possible podium until the pressure got to her, and not even a podium for any of the 3 girls at the worlds in their home counry supports my point I would say. Again, my point is not that Wakaba is better under pressure than the rest, but that they are all affected. Sometimes they come through, sometimes not.
 

zanadude

Medalist
Joined
Feb 20, 2016
She does have a worlds silver. How did the other Japanese girls do at the worlds last time? Pressure affects everyone and Wakaba deals with it just as well as most. She skated well at the Nats when she was 4th. A pop in each program was her only mistakes. But she had the most pressure on her as one of the favorites. Rika and Kaori had very little pressure comparatively, as one was a junior and the other a first year senior who wasn't expected to medal. Btw, neither of those 2 have exactly covered themselves in glory many times when the pressure was on either.
RIka Kihira: Won Nationals. Won Senior Grand Prix Finals. Won Four Continents. Twice.
Kaori Sakamoto: Won Nationals. Won Four Continents
Satoko Miyahara: Won Four Consecutive Nationals. Won Four Continents. Former #1 Ranked Skater In The World.

Heck, even underarchievers like Mai Mihara and Kanako Murakami have a Four Continents title to their name.

But, Wakaba, with all those chances...no major titles to speak of. Try as she might, she cannot find the will to finish on top.
 

Skatefan15

On the Ice
Joined
Mar 8, 2015
6th place at Olympics, when 2/3 of the way through the LP she looked like possible podium until the pressure got to her, and not even a podium for any of the 3 girls at the worlds in their home counry supports my point I would say. Again, my point is not that Wakaba is better under pressure than the rest, but that they are all affected. Sometimes they come through, sometimes not.
By your wording in the first post, it seemed like you were trying to hint that Wakaba has done better than others under pressure, but if that’s not the case my bad. I do agree that they all have had their fair share of ups and downs though.
 
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