Read the full story on SportsLook - [ICE TIME] Rena Uezono Wins the Poland JGP, Earns a Berth in the JGP Final
It looks like a new star has emerged on the Japan skating scene in Rena Uezono, a 13-year-old from Nagoya who won the Junior Grand Prix in Gdansk, Poland, on Friday, September 29. As a result, Uezono qualified for December's JGP Final with the victory.
Uezono, who finished second at the Istanbul JGP in early September behind Ami Nakai, moved up from second place after the short program to top the podium with her free skate to "Pray" and "Mechanisms." She landed five clean triples and earned level fours on her spins in the win.
Uezono's winning total score was 192.31 points. She won by more than eight points over second-place finisher Minsol Kwon of South Korea who had 183.52. Kwon's compatriot Seojin Youn was third at 176.31.
Uezono established personal bests in her scores in both the short program and free skate in Gdansk.
"I am very happy because I was able to show the audience what I had practiced and got my levels for my spins and steps," Uezono stated in an interview with ISU YouTube announcer Ted Barton after the triumph.
She added, "I will do my best to perform even better in the Final."
Uezono, who was Japan's Novice champion in the 2022-23 season, delighted the crowd with her performance in the free skate. She opened with a lovely triple lutz/triple toe loop/double toe loop combination and remained poised throughout her skate.
The only blemishes on her scoresheet came late in her routine when she was judged a quarter rotation under on both ends of a triple flip/triple toe loop combo.
Analyzing Rena Uezono's Performance
Barton praised Uezono for her seamless fusion with the music of her program.
"She knew every note, every beat," Barton commented in his analysis of Uezono's free skate before adding, "She was on it all the time, in time with the music. Right on top of her game technically. Nice and straight and strong and tight in the air. Great speed and acceleration."
ISU analyst Mark Hanretty applauded the choreography of Uezono's routine and that of Japanese skaters collectively on the webcast.
"I really appreciate the difference, the uniqueness and novelty in that program," Hanretty remarked. "All these Japanese skaters, which we keep referencing, [are] brilliant. A completely different artistic approach."
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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.