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[ICE TIME] Japan Contingent at Challenge Cup Led by Kaori Sakamoto

Sakamoto and Yuna Aoki will represent Japan in women's singles at the Challenge Cup, with Kazuki Tomono and Tatsuya Tsuboi set to skate in the men's event.



Kaori Sakamoto gets ready for the Japan Championships on December 20, 2023. (©KYODO)

Read the full story on SportsLook - [ICE TIME] Japan Contingent at Challenge Cup Led by Kaori Sakamoto

In a final tune-up before she embarks on her bid to become the first woman in 56 years to win three straight world titles, Kaori Sakamoto will take the ice at the Challenge Cup in Tilburg, the Netherlands, on the weekend of February 23-25. 

Sakamoto led a Japan sweep of the podium in the women's event in 2023 and will be favored to take home the gold again this time.

The 23-year-old Sakamoto, who will attempt to equal American Peggy Fleming's three straight world titles from 1966-68 when she competes at the World Figure Skating Championships (March 18-24) in Montreal, will be joined by compatriot Yuna Aoki for the trip to the northern European city. 

At the Challenge Cup, the women's short program is set for Saturday, February 24.

Sakamoto and Aoki's prime competition is likely to come from Belgium's Nina Pinzarrone, who medaled at both of her Grand Prix events in the 2023-24 season and finished fourth at the GP Final.

Kazuki Tomono and Tatsuya Tsuboi are entered in the men's competition that will begin on Friday and could both emerge with medals. The Japanese duo should see their biggest challenge come from Kazakhstan's Mikhail Shaidorov, who came in third at the Cup of China in November.

Kazuki Tomono (© KYODO)

Miura, Kihara to Skip the Challenge Cup

Pairs world champions Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara, who were second at the Four Continents Championships in Shanghai in early February after their delayed start to the season, were favored to top the podium in Tilburg. But the Japan Skating Federation announced on Wednesday that they have withdrawn from the Challenge Cup to focus on training for the world championships.

Continue reading the full story, including the latest on Yuzuru Hanyu, on SportsLook.


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.

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