Home Figure Skating News Kao Miura takes lead at 2023 Junior Worlds

Kao Miura takes lead at 2023 Junior Worlds

by Paula Slater
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Kao Miura takes the lead

Japan’s Kao Miura performs his Short Program at the 2023 World Junior Figure Skating Championships.

2023 World Junior Figure Skating Championships
Men’s Short Program

Japan’s Kao Miura took the lead in the Men’s Short Program at the 2023 World Junior Figure Skating Championships on Thursday night. Wesley Chiu of Canada is currently in second place, followed by Switzerland’s Naoki Rossi.

Miura gave a solid performance to music by Astor Piazzolla, landing a triple loop, triple Axel and triple flip-triple toe. The 2023 Four Continents Champion received many positive grades of execution (GOE) for the first two jumps, and his spins and footwork were also graded a level four. He scored a total of 85.11 points.

“I am very happy!” said Miura. “Today I was very nervous. All season long, I’ve been skating the programs with the senior program requirements, and because of the junior requirements being different, I was nervous for all the elements. But somehow I managed and so I’m really happy about that!”

When asked how he was able to find motivation to return to the junior level after competing as a senior this season, Miura said it was the same, regardless. “I go for the win.”

“At the junior level, it’s a little bit more of a struggle for me, but knowing that is the state of things, I try to do my best,” he said.

Last season, the 17-year-old was injured, placing 20th in the short, eighth in the free, and 13th overall.

“I was really behind my game there,” said Miura. “But I was able to put that aside this year and was also able to channel that frustration from last year to do a good performance this year.”

Chiu showed an excellent triple loop and triple Axel in his heartfelt routine to “Vincent” by Govardo. The 2023 Canadian bronze medalist put a hand down on the front-end of a triple Lutz-triple toe, but two spins and the footwork were rewarded with a level four and many positive GOEs. He scored 80.56 points, just 1.03 points shy of his personal best from this event last season.

“I am very happy, especially with how I pulled out that triple toe after the Lutz,” said Chiu. “I’ve was really relying on my training in that moment. It’s been a lot up and down for me this season, so I would like to show two solid performance this season. It was definitely a fight for sure, but the support of the Canadian crowd made it really special for me.”

For Chiu, transitioning from senior to junior is definitely different, but he said in terms of competition preparation, it’s basically the same except with a different layout.

“But the motivation is,” he said. “I go into every competition with the same mindset of just trying to skate my best.”

Chiu noted that he was in the same spot last year after placing second in short program in 2022. He then finished fourth in the free and fourth overall.

“This year, I’ve definitely gained a lot more experience and a lot more confidence from competing in seniors, so it’s definitely helped me going into this competition,” he said.

Rossi collected a new personal best of 79.46 for his routine to music by Ikuko Kawai. The 16-year-old landed a good triple Axel and triple loop, but put a foot down on the triple Lutz-triple toe. All three spins and footwork were graded a level four.

“I can’t believe it! Finally, I was able to do a clean short,” said Rossi. “Never ever in a million years have I ever thought that I was going to be third. Training has been going well recently, that probably made the difference! After I landed the toe, I wanted to give it my all to not miss any levels!”

“Last year, I missed a (jump) combo and lost lots of points,” he recalled. “I was really devastated after the short program (12th). I especially worked on condition training and, since the altitude is really high here, I was also working on jumps, performances, skating, and spins.”

USA’s Lucas Broussard finished in fourth place with 77.01 points. The 2022-23 Junior Grand Prix (JGP) Final silver medalist stepped out of a triple Axel, putting his hand down, but recovered to land a triple Lutz-triple toe and triple loop in his routine to “Adios Nonino.” Two spins and the footwork were graded a level four, and the change combination spin received very high GOEs.

“I am feeling good,” said the 16-year-old from Seattle. “I think I recovered well after the initial mistake on the Axel. It’s a bit unfortunate as the Axel has been going great all week. My goal here is a podium finish. I’ve been practicing the loop combinations a lot in practice, and it’s been fun, but I fear of getting too nervous, so I won’t include it in the program yet.”

Andreas Nordeback of Sweden put a hand down on a triple Axel, but was otherwise solid in his skate to Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt,” performed by Johnny Cash. The triple Lutz-triple toe and triple loop were solid, and the 2022 IceChallenge silver medalist picked up a level four on all spins and footwork. He placed fifth with 76.82 points.

“I have a bit of a back problem, but I tried to not show it and perform as normally,” said the Swedish Champion. “I will get some physio and it’s good to have a day before the free. This is my last junior competition, so a top six finish would be great. I am looking very much forward to senior Worlds; that’s more about having fun for me this season!”

Italy’s Nikolaj Memola stepped out of a triple Lutz-triple toe, but the triple Axel and triple loop were clean. The 2022-23 JGP Final Champion also displayed level-four spins and footwork throughout his routine to “Prelude No. 2,” finishing sixth (76.72).

“It was a bit hard to manage the tension skating last,” admitted Memola. “I am overall, neither super pleased nor really disappointed. I am happy I will skate first in the group in the free. I will go for the quad in competition for the first time on Saturday. Winning the Junior Grand Prix Final was of course great, but also put some extra pressure on me.”

Nozomu Yoshioka of Japan scored a new personal best of 76.44 for seventh place after a solid skate to “Malaguena.” The triple Axel, in particular, received very high GOEs and the triple loop and triple Lutz-double toe were clean.

“I am very pleased with my score,” said the 2022-23 JGP Final bronze medalist. “I didn’t expect that much. I am especially happy I got 35 in components as I worked a lot on my expressions, recently. I am a very competitive and ambitious person and I think that sometimes rather holds me back.”

Hyungyeom Kim of South Korea is currently in eighth place (75.77), followed by Francois Pitot of France (74.91).

“I am very happy scoring a personal best here and skating so well,” said Kim. “I was a bit nervous coming here, but it got better soon. I dream of making the top 10 here.”

Pitot was also happy with his score.

“Even without a triple-triple, it is an amazing score,” said the French bronze medalist. “I think I lost my focus a bit at the combination, but I will do better in the free. I had a rough preparation going into this event as I recently twisted my ankle and then also cut my foot with my blade and needed stitches. So, I am extra glad how it went today.”

Pitot grinned, adding, “I want revenge for last year’s Junior Worlds!” He was 30th in 2022.

The Men’s event will conclude with the free skate on Saturday.

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