Home Figure Skating News Japan’s Sakamoto takes short program in Torino

Japan’s Sakamoto takes short program in Torino

by Paula Slater
Iana Saveleva
2022-23 Grand Prix Final Women's Short Program

Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto performs her Short Program at the 2022-23 Grand Prix Final in Torino, Italy.

2022-23 Grand Prix Final: Women’s Short Program

Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto took the lead in the Women’s short program at the 2022-23 Grand Prix Final on Friday night. Teammate Mai Mihara is close on her heels, while Belgium’s Loena Hendrickx sit’s in third by a mere 1.62 points from first place.

Kaori Sakamoto (JPN)

Sakamoto was on top of her game and showed good speed and focus in her upbeat routine to music by Janet Jackson. The 2022 Olympic bronze medalist landed a solid double Axel, triple Lutz and triple flip-triple toe. She was awarded a level four on her layback spin, while the flying camel spin and change combination spin were graded a level three. The footwork also received a level four and all elements received positive grades of execution (GOE), particularly on the jumps and footwork. She earned a new season’s best of 75.86 points for first place.

“I’m quite glad that I was able to perform my best this season,” said Sakamoto.

The 22-year-old said that while the amount of practices she had didn’t change going into the Final, the training itself was slight increased.

“When I had time, I walked or used the train instead of taking the car,” she offered. “I just thought about moving my body even during the day, and I was conscious about moving (my body). So I feel like I got the movement of my body back.”

“I understand that no matter how my short program goes, I have to do well at the Free Skate,” Sakamoto summed up. “So finishing my short program perfectly after a long time, although I’m relieved, tomorrow’s here soon, so I want to focus and do my best going into tomorrow.”

Mai Mihara (JPN)

Mihara gave a lyrical performance to “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence” which featured a solid double Axel, triple flip, triple Lutz-triple toe. Her beautiful spins were all graded a level four, as was the footwork, and the two-time Four Continents champion also received positive GOEs on all elements. The 23-year-old is currently in second place with 74.58 points in her debut at this event.

“I was so nervous, but I was able to skate at the end,” said the skater from Kobe. “I’m very happy to be coming here, to skate here at the Grand Prix Final, it’s so unbelievable for me”

“I had so much pressure,” she added. “I didn’t know before today that I was going to skate last in this event, and when I saw that, I was quite surprised. Suddenly, I became nervous about being the last skater in the women event and the last skater for the whole event today. I really tried to stay and focus on how happy I am just to be here and be able to skate in this event, so I tried to concentrate on that.”

Loena Hendrickx (BEL)

Hendrickx put out a strong program with good energy to “Si Mama” and “Mi Gente.” The “Rippon-style” triple flip and double Axel were solid, however, she slightly underrotated both jumps on the triple Lutz-triple toe. The 2022 World silver medalist is in a very close third with 74.24 points.

“It could have been better, but think I can be really satisfied with my skate today,” said Hendrickx. “My combination jump wasn’t clean, I felt it and saw on the points as well, but the rest – everything is level four and the other jumps were good, so I can be very happy. I know I have to work on my triple-triple in the second half. It’s the first year I’m doing it. I’m glad I did it every competition, not perfect, but I’m looking forward for tomorrow.”

Rinka Watanabe (JPN)

Wantanabe, who was solid in her routine to “El Tango De Roxanne” from Moulin Rouge, was the only woman to attempt a triple Axel in the short program, but it was a quarter underrotated. Her routine to also featured a good triple Lutz-triple toe and triple toe, as well as level-four spins and footwork throughout. The 2022 Skate Canada champion scored a new personal best of 72.58 points and for fourth place.

Isabeau Levito (USA)

Levito showed excellent detail and good ice coverage in her routine to “Una Noche Mas,” but received an edge call on the front-end of a triple Lutz-triple toe, while the back-end was called a quarter underrotated. The triple flip and double Axel were clean and the 2022 World Junior champion also picked up many GOEs on her level-four spins and footwork to finish fifth with 69.26 points.

Yelim Kim (KOR)

Kim delivered a beautiful routine to “Mercy” by Max Richter, however, like Levito, received an edge call on the front-end of a triple Lutz-triple toe, while the back-end was called a quarter underrotated. She also popped the double Axel, but the triple flip was good and she earned a level four on two of her spins. The 2022 Four Continents bronze medalist rounds out the six women with 61.55 points.

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