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[ICE TIME] Japan's Success at World Junior Championships Bodes Well for the Future

For the second year in a row, Japanese skaters took home at least half of the singles medals from the World Junior Championships. Here's who to keep an eye on.



World Junior Championships
Gold medalist Mao Shimada poses during the medal ceremony after the women's free skate at the 2024 ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Taipei on March 1. (©ISU)

Read the full story on SportsLook - [ICE TIME] Japan's Success at World Junior Championships Bodes Well for the Future

The World Junior Championships, held in Taipei from February 28 to March 2, represented another highly successful event for Japan as the Hinomaru came away with half of the singles medals on offer in the competition of the skating world's future stars.

It was the second year in a row that Japan took home at least half of the singles medals, after netting four at the 2023 world juniors in Calgary, Canada. This reflects the depth of talent on the archipelago.

Mao Shimada became just the third woman ever to repeat as world junior champion with her victory over South Korea's Jia Shin on Friday, March 1. Rena Uezono joined Shimada on the podium after claiming the bronze medal. Meanwhile, Rio Nakata took the silver in the men's event on Saturday, March 2, following a narrow loss to winner Minkyu Seo of South Korea.

The results indicate that Japan is in a good position going forward in the junior ranks with skaters who will bolster the senior crop in a few years.

World Junior Championships
Mao Shimada (AP/via KYODO)

Shimada Rises to the Challenge at the World Junior Championships

Shimada was the shining star of the show for the second straight year. The 15-year-old came from behind after the short program to win the gold again with a poised performance in her free skate despite making a mistake on her opening triple axel.

She showed her grit by landing the difficult quadruple toe loop on the very next jump. From that point on it was smooth sailing for the rest of her program.


"If you make a mistake on the first jump, and you still have six more to go, it will be a little tough on you mentally," Shimada stated after her triumph. "But I thought that I didn't practice to fail there."

Added Shimada, "This season, I'm really glad that I was able to take part in this big competition. For me, I was aware that it would be a consecutive win for me. Getting second place in the short program made me feel that I really wanted to win consecutively and I am very happy I did."

Due to the change in ISU rules after the 2022 Beijing Olympics (raising the minimum age for senior skaters to 17 as of the 2024-25 season), Shimada will still be a junior again next season. And she could become the first woman ever to capture the world junior title in three consecutive years.

Continue reading the full story 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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