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[ICE TIME] Mone Chiba and Rena Uezono Lit Up Japan Championships with Their Performances

Superstars Uno and Sakamoto delivered the expected results at the Japan Championships. In addition, rising stars Chiba and Uezono shined in Nagano.



Japan Championships
Mone Chiba (left) and Rena Uezono placed second and third, respectively, at the Japan Championships on December 24, 2023, in Nagano. (KYODO)

Read the full story on SportsLook - [ICE TIME] Mone Chiba and Rena Uezono Lit Up Japan Championships with Their Performances

Two-time world champions Shoma Uno and Kaori Sakamoto came away from the Japan Championships over the weekend of December 22-24 with anticipated victories in Nagano. 

The favorites both performed as expected as their fellow competitors battled for spots on the Hinomaru's team for the 2024 World Figure Skating Championships in Montreal in March.

What was not expected, was the emergence of Mone Chiba, who put together two outstanding programs to finish second behind Sakamoto and clinch a spot on the worlds team with a total score of 209.27 points.

The 18-year-old from Sendai, who grew up skating at the same rink where Yuzuru Hanyu honed his skills, was a two-time medalist at the Japan Junior Championships before moving up to the senior ranks earlier this year.

Mone Chiba
Mone Chiba (ⒸSANKEI)

She claimed the bronze medal at the Four Continents in Colorado in February 2023 in her first senior international event and then won the Coupe du Printemps in Luxembourg in March.

But this fall Chiba struggled with her results, placing sixth at the Challenger Series Autumn Classic in Montreal, then coming in sixth and ninth in her two Grand Prix assignments.


It seemed as if the transition to seniors was not going as smoothly as it initially appeared. But Chiba, who moved to train under Mie Hamada at the Kinoshita Academy in Kyoto in May, reversed her fortunes after coming home with disappointing results at the Grand Prix de France (where she was ninth) in November.

"Since the France Grand Prix, I felt a little unwell, but I tried to recover to come here and I had very good training," Chiba stated after placing third in the short program on Friday, December 22 in Nagano.

Japan Championships
Mone Chiba in action in the women's short program at the Japan Championships on December 22 in Nagano. (KYODO)

Chiba Reflects on Her Performance at the Japan Championships

Chiba, a third-year high school student, has always had good skating skills to go along with the endearing smile that she flashed at the press conference after the victory ceremony on Sunday night.

"I'm very happy to be selected for the world championships for the first time," Chiba stated. "The world championship is my dream stage."

She acknowledged that being named to the world's team comes with expectations.

"I hope I can skate comfortably as a first-year senior," Chiba commented. "If I can bring out my best and give a perfect performance that I'm satisfied with, I think the results will follow."

Japan Championships
Mone Chiba trains under coach Mie Hamada in Kyoto. (KYODO)

After leaving her hometown for Kyoto with some trepidation, Chiba expressed satisfaction with Kinoshita's setup in an interview with FNN Prime Online.

"It is very fulfilling here overall," Chiba noted. "I couldn't do ballet [in Sendai] because I didn't have much time. But I think it's wonderful that it's incorporated into the program and can be done on a daily basis. You can practice on the ice as much as you want, and I'm grateful that I'm skating in a good environment."


In the same interview, Chiba revealed that she has a health condition to deal with.

Continue reading the full story on SportsLook.


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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.

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