Read the full story on SportsLook - [ICE TIME] Ami Nakai and Rio Nakata Sweep Gold at Junior Grand Prix in Bangkok
After dominating the Junior Grand Prix last season, Japan picked up where it left off with victories in both the women's and men's competitions at the season-opening JGP in Bangkok over the weekend of August 25-27.
World junior bronze medalist Ami Nakai captured the women's crown on Friday, August 25 with a narrow victory over South Korea's Yuseong Kim. Meanwhile, Rio Nakata edged France's Francois Pitot by just 0.15 of a point to claim the men's title on Saturday.
In other words, the song remains the same. Or so it seems.
Nakai won with a total score of 190.65 points, ahead of Kim who finished at 189.92. Kim's compatriot Heesue Han was third on 173.99, with Yo Takagi coming in fourth with 171.61.
The 15-year-old Nakai prevailed despite a pair of mistakes in her free skate to "Glimmer of Faith" and "Only Hope" to hang on for the win. Nakai doubled her planned opening triple axel, then later landed a double axel and received no score for the repeated element. But she did land five clean triples and earn level fours on all of her spins.
The nearly 4.5-point lead that Nakai held over Kim after the short program proved crucial to her triumph, as Kim hit seven clean triples to win the free skate.
Nakai Aims to Improve Triple Axel
"I popped the first triple axel today, so I'm going to make sure to land it for the next Junior Grand Prix," Nakai told ISU JGP host Ted Barton in an interview after her win.
"After my first mistake, I tried not to concentrate on my emotions, but to focus on the rest of the program," Nakai added.
Barton asked Nakai what she will be working on ahead of her next JGP assignment in Istanbul (September 6-9).
"I am planning on practicing a lot so I can better my performance and work on landing the triple axel more often," Nakai stated.
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Author: Jack Gallagher
The author is a veteran sports journalist and one of the world's foremost figure skating experts. Find articles and podcasts by Jack on his author page, and find him on X (formerly Twitter) @sportsjapan.