Home Figure Skating News Mao Shimada shines in Calgary

Mao Shimada shines in Calgary

by Paula Slater
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Mao Shimada shines in Calgary

Mao Shimada, the 2022-23 Japanese National Junior Champion, is currently undefeated on the international scene this season.

2023 World Junior Figure Skating Championships
Women’s Short Program

Mao Shimada of Japan shined in the Women’s short program, placing first at the 2023 World Junior Figure Skating Championships on Wednesday night. Jia Shin of South Korea is on her heels in second place, followed by Japan’s Ami Nakai.

Shimada gave a brilliant performance to music from Lion King, which featured a solid triple loop, double Axel and triple Lutz-triple toe. The 2022-23 Junior Grand Prix (JGP) Champion earned many positive grades of execution (GOE) on all elements, particularly on her level-four layback spin. She also earned a level four on her footwork and combination spin, and scored a new personal best of 71.78.

“I didn’t feel so good going into this competition as my jumps were a bit off recently, but I learned from my previous competitions that I can do well also when my practices don’t go well,” said Shimada. “As this is my last time performing this short program, I wanted to give it my all and I think I did that! My favorite scene of the Lion King is when Rafiki holds up Simba. I hope people see me as a lioness as I try to represent it in my program!”

Shimada, who was named after three-time World Champion Mao Asada, said she would be attempting a quad toe and triple Axel in her free skate.

“It seems to be that there is no limit if you work at it, which is why I like jumps,” she said, when asked of her strengths. “I miss the jumps sometimes, but as far as the spins are concerned, I very rarely make mistakes and the speed of my rotations is one of my strengths.”

Shin was also solid in her elegant performance to “The Giving” by Michael W. Smith, which featured a triple Lutz-triple toe, double Axel and triple loop. Three of her spins received a level four, as did her footwork, and the 2022-23 JGP Final silver medalist also earned the highest program component scores of the night. She sits in second with a new personal best score of 71.19— a mere 0.59 points from first place.

“I was nervous, but I am happy how my performance turned out despite that,” said the skater who turns 15 later this month. “I am very happy about my scores and achieving my personal best. The good results this season really gave me confidence!”

When asked what she likes most about figure skating, Shin responded: “What I most like is the jumps. The feeling of achievement when I succeed each jump makes me very happy. I believe my strong mentality helps me a lot during my performances.”

This is Shin’s second outing at this event and while she doesn’t feel there is a big difference compared to last year, she simply wants to do her “best.”

Nakai landed a double Axel, triple Lutz-triple toe and triple loop in her delightful routine to Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm.” The JGP Finalist also earned a level four on all three spins, while the footwork was a level three. Her total score was 67.28.

“I focused on the speed and the flow of my double Axel to have a good quality element there,” said the 14-year-old. “I am very happy that I managed enjoying my performance and performed with joy for the crowd despite being nervous. My goal is to land the triple Axel successfully in the free skate.”

Nakai, who trains in Chiba, stated that she worked to gain consistency on her jumps and more flow in her skating in her short program.

“For the free program, I will try and gain consistency on my triple Axel and, for the choreo sequence, to gain more flow in general,” she said.

Nakai enjoys performing “freely in front of a lot of people” and feels that her strength is giving a lot of “expression” in her steps.

Yujae Kim of South Korea was near-flawless in her strong routine to “Four Seasons,” which featured a good and triple Lutz-triple toe. The only error was a slight underrotation on the triple loop. The 2022 JGP Courchevel bronze medalist showed good presentation throughout, while displaying level-four spins and footwork. She picked up a personal best of 63.97 for fourth place.

“I feel good about the skate, but I am a bit sad about the ‘q’ on the loop,” said the 13-year-old from Anyang City. “I practiced very hard recently, and the consistency on my triple Axel improved a lot. I will try it in the free skate.”

China’s Xiangyi An gave a beautiful performance to “Send In The Clowns,” landing a clean triple loop, double Axel and triple toe-triple toe. The 16-year-old from Beijing also earned a level four on two spins and her footwork, placing fifth with 63.91 points.

“I feel okay about my performance today,” said An. “The triple-triple could have been a bit better. I was a bit nervous going into today, but after the six-minute warm up, I just said ‘let’s go for it!'”

Minsol Kwon of South Korea slanded a clean triple loop and double Axel in her routine to “Danse Macabre.” The only glitch came when she landed slightly underrotated the first jump in a triple flip-triple toe combination. The 2022-23 JGP Finalist, who showed lots of expression in her program, sits in sixth place (62.82).

“I am a bit disappointed, because of the ‘q’ (triple flip), but my goal is mainly to have a happy competition, so I am happy,” said  Kwon, who is coached by Hyungkyung Choi. “The main difference from the JGP Final is that there are so many more competitors, but for me personally, it’s no big difference.”

Lorine Schild of France is currently in seventh place (61.04), followed by Maria Eliise Kaljuvere of Estonia (58.42) and USA’s Clare Seo (58.41).

The women’s event concludes on Friday with the free skate.

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