Thoughts on Ladies' FS at Japanese Nats?

Skatefan15

On the Ice
Joined
Mar 8, 2015
I feel bad for Wakaba and Mai, especially Mai because she always seems to be 4th/5th at these events (and her PCS were really underscored compared to everyone else). But I’m really happy for the top three, all of their performances were amazing. It was also nice to see Rika and Satoko again after so long. Rika’s quad was beautiful too. I loved seeing Kaori (as well as Satoko) have redemption skates after the disappointment from last year. Kaori’s matrix is one of my favorite programs ever!
 

Colonel Green

Record Breaker
Joined
Mar 3, 2018
Country
Canada
Rika finally did the thing. Another well-deserved win; and she won the TES with only one underrotated triple Axel and no triple Lutz, which just shows how the gap between her and the rest of the Japanese field is only growing.

Kaori was at a couple of points a bit rougher than at NHK, but another great nationals for her; it seems like the disappointments of last year are in the rearview mirror.

I'm not sure I would have put Satoko in third, much as I like her, but I was happy for her success. And while I don't know that her jumps look much bigger (if at all), the rotations generally looked cleaner, so that's positive.

Rino could easily be a contender for the Olympic team this time next year, if she keeps this consistency and continues to add polish (already I thought her PCS was a bit ungenerous).
 
Joined
Dec 8, 2020
Country
Japan
I'm not sure how Sakoto and Kaori will do at Worlds, simply from a technical standpoint. They both get great PCS, but right now, Rika seems to be the only Japanese skater capable of really going toe-to-toe with Russia. That being said, I really did like all of their programs.
 

lariko

Medalist
Joined
Jan 31, 2019
Country
Canada
I loved that Kihira landed 4S, but I don’t like that she stops in the middle of the skate for a bit. I like Kaori’s FS since last year, because Matrix! For me, Rino Matsuke > 3rd place finisher, because she has far better jumps and no falls.
 

YuBluByMe

Final Flight
Joined
Mar 21, 2018
Rika’s 4S was s m o o t h. There was no fight on the landing. There was no wild axis. That was a “swish!” 4S. Then she showed out even further by landing a “swish” 3A right afterwards. She didn’t put the combo on it, but I didn’t even care because her point’s been made and it’s been made with an exclamation point.

The program is a work in progress and there definitely needs to be more choreography and I’m thinking a lot of it was taken out because she’s not in full form; otherwise, Lambiel needs a stern talking to. (Her SP was much more complete.)

I didn’t even realize that Miyahara got the bronze instead of Matsuike until I looked at the protocols. I’ve never enjoyed Miyahara’s programs before as I think she’s boring with little expression, but I’ve always acknowledged that she’s a great skater that never skates through her music. Her lack of expression hasn’t changed one bit, but I still thought her SP was sublime. Although she made the podium, I don’t think I underestimated her (I had her fifth and over Mai Mihara and other promising junior-to-senior skaters), but instead, over-estimated Higuchi’s competitive grit. Higuchi really was looking good this season and much better than last. Looking back at it now, though, her score at NHK still would have gotten her seventh place here.

Sakamoto redeemed herself. She's definitely pulled it together from last season. More determined. I love her free and wouldn’t mind if she kept it for another season.

Hongo is a badass and it was great to see her return to the ice.

I’m not sold on Matsuike as she’s the figure skating equivalent of a strawberry shortcake. Not my style at all, but she does have some nice qualities. Her choreo sequence was one of the best in the field and she has a beautiful I-spin. She’s consistent which is going to get her very far; I can definitely see her making a convincing bid for the Olympic team next year.

I enjoyed Kawabe quite a lot in the free. She is fast on her blades and seems to be consistent as well. She hasn’t landed a solid 3A yet, but she’ll get there. She’s about on the same level as Higuchi with the jump.

Yokoi pretty much had the skate of her life and really should have placed above Higuchi. If the margin was going to be that close (and Higuchi was less than two points ahead of her from the SP), then Yokoi should have come out ahead. Other than that, her program is…..quirky. Yeah.

Anyways, this was a great showing and miles better than the men’s competition.

Rika says:
During my performance, there was a little mistake and I suddenly took the opposite direction during my step sequence."

Heh, what a dork.
 
Last edited:

gsk8

Record Breaker
Joined
Jun 21, 2003
Country
United-States
“I was calmer than I thought and told myself that there was no way around this jump,” said Kihira of the quad Salchow. “If I made a mistake, it would destroy the entire program, so I had to execute it well. After that, all jumps went as planned.
She's looking forward to returning to Switzerland.

 

RatedPG

On the Ice
Joined
Aug 21, 2018
Country
Canada
I just want to add a note here that out of all the National Championships, my favourite is this one from Japan. The video quality of the the footage plus the review of jumps afterwards with measurements and speed statistics is fascinating to me. Also, the judging to me is so accurate. Every time I question a jump, I see a yellow card appear for that element to be reviewed. I absolutely want to commend the Japanese federation on this. Also, everyone wearing a mask 😷 and and I heard that all competitors tested negative prior to the Championship. It just goes to show, that if people take the appropriate precautions, events like this competition can be held, even during a pandemic.

Rika Kihira, like the top three Russian ladies, was able to throw out the two ultra-difficult elements in the Free Skate. Her Quad Salchow is unbelievable. Add this element with the triple axel, she is not only a contender for a medal at Worlds, but for Gold medal 🥇. What I like about her team, is their intelligence. They are able to change her jump layout depending on what is working for her or not. Her triple axel was a little shaky during practice, no problem. Instead of two triple axels, let’s do two triple toe loops in the jump combinations instead. Also, she was having issues with triple lutz, no problem, just add a double axel at the end instead to be safe. If she screwed up one of her two ultra elements, I’m sure she would have gone for the lutz to ensure she beat Sakamoto. But, she knew she landed those two ultra elements, so, why risk it. I love the intelligence of their team and if I was a competitor, I would love to have her technical ability. She has the proper technique. Proper triple lutz and the triple axel like Alena K. to me is the most important jump in ladies competition right now as it can be done in both programs. I just think this stability ensures her a long career.

Sakamoto, she is my sentimental favourite. Love her personality. The speed and power of her jumps is incredible. I was happy to see her get the greatest PCS score as this program is still amazing to me. So happy to see her back up her NHK skate. Also, I was happy to see her flutz called out. That is the one element that still escapes her. It will be a fight fo her and #3 Russian lady for the fourth spot at worlds. If one of the big three messes up, she can be right there for the bronze medal 🥉

Miyahara, she earned that bronze medal due to PCS. She feels the music really well and to me this is what most of the top skaters are missing. She is not as fast as Sakamoto, but, the details to her program are fascinating to me and I like the fact that if the skaters finishing behind her, want to beat her, they are going to have to step it up in the PCS score. Well earned spot to the team. I can see her fighting for 6th place between whatever two Americans or Koreans get sent to Worlds. Her PCS might be the difference between those placements and she stands out in this area.

I just want to also congratulate Rino on a fourth place here. She is so consistent and she would have been the perfect person to send to Junior Worlds. The fact that she executes all her combos at then end, shows how confident she is in her jumping ability. Mai Mihara just keeps getting better and better. She scored over 200 and only missed her triple lutz element. She rounds out the top five nicely and deserves to be sent to Senior Grand Prix circuit next year.

Kawabe, watch out for her!! She is the one who impressed me the most in this competition in terms of her improvement. She has the Sakamoto speed and is trying to gain triple axel consistency. Im going to watch out for her in the future. Wakaba, and Yuhana also pulled out excellent skates to round out the top 8. They did enough to earn a spot in the Senior Circuit. So, that is their reward for coming back with stronger free skates after disappointing short programs.

Anyways, I was so happy I stayed awake at night to watch this competition. My figure skating ⛸ viewership can now take a break for a while till USA and CAN Nationals.
 

Sweet Dream

Final Flight
Joined
Nov 16, 2014
Rika did a wonderful job here, such a beautiful 4S landed for the first time in her career on such huge stage! :love2: She is the only one who can compete against those Russian girls at the moment. Just keep it up!

I used to love Mai's skating very much, but what happened to her? 😟 I could not even recognize her when she took to the ice.
 

skylark

Gazing at a Glorious Great Lakes sunset
Record Breaker
Joined
Aug 12, 2014
Rika's free skate is stunningly beautiful. Her 4sal and her 3Axel are so smooth and easy-looking. What I was most happy to see again were her musical intelligence and feeling, and the joy of skating that radiates on her face and all through her movements. I was extremely happy to see her skating rewarded for the right reasons.
 

cohkaix

FS data keeper
Medalist
Joined
Mar 9, 2013
Country
Taiwan
Rika did a wonderful job here, such a beautiful 4S landed for the first time in her career on such huge stage! :love2: She is the only one who can compete against those Russian girls at the moment. Just keep it up!

I used to love Mai's skating very much, but what happened to her? 😟 I could not even recognize her when she took to the ice.
Mai missed the whole year of competition because of recurring chronic illness. So it was quite amazing how she had fight through the whole season from regional competitions and made it to the national.
 

Interspectator

Record Breaker
Joined
Dec 25, 2012
Kaori-chan was magnificent in the FS. My favorite performance of the night.
Mai-chan is my sentimental favorite forever. I worry about her health, and hope that she can recover quickly, as she deserves to be whole and skating at full power.
Rika's 4S and her ability to balance her body while going full out is something to behold. A well deserving win, I would even have given her more points in TES.
Satoko was a surprise, I love her SP, her LP less so, but she's the right one to have rounding out the world team IMO.

There were so many great performances and new upcoming talents. I felt bad for Mako-chan, I really like her skating and hope she can get a hold of her nerves. I want to see her on the international stage more.
 

zanadude

Medalist
Joined
Feb 20, 2016
I feel bad for Wakaba and Mai, especially Mai because she always seems to be 4th/5th at these events (and her PCS were really underscored compared to everyone else).
I don't think anybody in Japan feels bad for Mai, because she doesn't feel bad for herself. Everyone is just really happy to be able to see her skating again, let alone at such a high level.

And quite frankly, I really don't want there to be any chance of her getting on a plane to Sweden in March.
 

lzxnl

Final Flight
Joined
Nov 8, 2018
I don't think anybody in Japan feels bad for Mai, because she doesn't feel bad for herself. Everyone is just really happy to be able to see her skating again, let alone at such a high level.

And quite frankly, I really don't want there to be any chance of her getting on a plane to Sweden in March.
Quite frankly, I really don't want there to be any chance of anyone getting on a plane to Sweden in March. How are they going to make it safe for the athletes?
 

readernick

Medalist
Joined
Dec 5, 2015
First off, I was happy to see my girl Rika land a beautiful 4S. She is such an amazing competitor now! I love her and her skating. She has her own style that she brings to every program that she performs and yet she is very versatile in terms of movement style and music choices. I feel like this LP will grow if she is given enough chance to compete. She is constantly improving. One thing about Rika is that I have felt in the past is that she is holding back because she is afraid of going too fast, jumping too high ( she can get speed easily .. her skating skills are great/ she can get height on her jumps easily.. she has great technique) because she doesn't want to lose control. But, I heard Lambiel in the K&C tell her she needed to use speed to her advantage. When I heard that, I decided Lambiel may just be the coach she needs. (Plus she looked happy, and her English is improving... it was super cute when she was trying to communicate with Lambiel) Rika was the only skater this weekend to successfully perform both a quad and 3A! Go Rika!

Kaori is a great and she deserves to be second here. However, she was really overscored compared to the other ladies. I don't understand why she is such a favorite. I think it might be because JF likes skaters with wonderful SS and Kaori certainly has them. However, her PCS confuses me because she isn't better artistically than skaters like Rika, Wakaba, or Yuhana Yokoi to name a few and she is far far below the beautiful Satoko in this regard. Her jump GOE was also very generous compared to other skaters with similarly good jumps. It certainly isn't Kaori's fault. She is adorable and talented. But, JF why?

I really counted Satoko out here, she is not, as we all know, a naturally talented jumper and I didn't think she would be able to pull off a medal here. However, I am so glad I am wrong! She is an artistic level all her own in the World of ladies figure skating. Her short program was just stunning! I didn't think I would like the long program to Tosca and yet when she skated I was in tears because it was just that beautiful! Both Rika and Satoko made me cry, but in Rika's case it was mostly just because I love her and I was so happy to see her succeed... in Satoko's case it was just the pure beauty of her skating.

Rino Matsuike is going to be a force in Japanese skating very soon. Her skating skills are like Kaori, but she is better in the other PCS categories. She is also so consistent and her jumps look effortless. I see a possible 3A in her future. The packaging is very very pretty and sweet. I didn't mind it because it seemed genuine to who she is right now. But, I hope that she manages to evolve her skating and her style next year.

Mana Kawabe is a force. She skates without fear. Her speed across the ice is incredible and she jumps without concern. I think she , like Rino Matsuike, and perhaps even more so will soon be a force within the Japanese skating community especially if she gets her 3A more stable. She also has pretty interesting costumes that are age appropriate but interesting!

Happy to see Mai here. Her skating has never appealed to me but I really love her as a person! I hope she is able to maintain and improve her health.

Also, I just love Yuhana Yokoi as a person and a performer. She is humorous in her choices. There aren't many skaters who would be brave enough to skate to Tom and Jerry, but Yuhana makes it work. Her comedic Carmen last year made me love her and this just made my love stronger. Her jumps are also incredible. If only she would learn to be a bit more consistent, especially in the SP.

The saddest part of my weekend was Wakaba Higuchi. Wakaba is just so talented and she is probably my second favorite Japanese lady (after my daughter Rika) but she can't skate clean to save her life. Her SP is my favorite of this season. I want to see it clean! Wakaba I am still rooting for you!
 

nussnacker

one and only
Record Breaker
Joined
Mar 16, 2019
Rika did a wonderful job here, such a beautiful 4S landed for the first time in her career on such huge stage! :love2: She is the only one who can compete against those Russian girls at the moment. Just keep it up!

I used to love Mai's skating very much, but what happened to her? 😟 I could not even recognize her when she took to the ice.
Mai is dealing with juvenile arthritis and lost a lot of weight due to her condition.
 

nussnacker

one and only
Record Breaker
Joined
Mar 16, 2019
I love the podium but Mai was definitely underscored IMO.
So much yes to this. JSF never really cared about Mai, so I don’t expect they will suddenly start now.
I get why, if you have a skater, who might get seriously ill any moment, doesn’t have time to build reputation, you can’t rely on them for Olympics.
It just makes me so sad for her. She deserved podium at least a few times, certainly in 18-19 season Nationals.
She deserves a lot more than she gets.
 

Skatefan15

On the Ice
Joined
Mar 8, 2015
I don't think anybody in Japan feels bad for Mai, because she doesn't feel bad for herself. Everyone is just really happy to be able to see her skating again, let alone at such a high level.

And quite frankly, I really don't want there to be any chance of her getting on a plane to Sweden in March.
Yeah, I’m happy she doesn’t have to get on a plane to Sweden. I’m very happy to see her skating again, I just meant from a result standpoint—she just places 4th/5th a lot and it’s a little frustrating.
 

Greengemmonster

On the Ice
Joined
Oct 22, 2019
Rika, my baby girl, the love of my skating life, was so effortless and light in her skate.

She's grown so much in terms of jumps and performance. Not only did she land a quad and a 3A, she did it with ease. Her movements are so elegant which is so refreshing considering her arsenal of tech and how powerful she is.

I love that she does spirals in her programs. Both this one and the SP.

I do wonder what transitions they have for the program as imo it does need more transitions but seeing the way she built on her programs last season I think it will be fully developed by the end of the season.

I'm just really sad that we won't be seeing much of it as there aren't going to be any competitions besides Worlds which is a huge question mark anyway.
 
Top