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[ICE TIME] Shoma Uno Looks to Match Yuzuru Hanyu with Sixth Title at Japan Championships

Though the focus will be on Uno and Kaori Sakamoto, the Japan Championships will also determine which skaters will represent Japan at the world championships.



Japan Championships
Shoma Uno, seen in action in the Grand Prix Final on December 7, 2023, in Beijing, is a five-time Japan Championships gold medalist. (KYODO)

Read the full story on SportsLook - [ICE TIME] Shoma Uno Looks to Match Yuzuru Hanyu with Sixth Title at Japan Championships

Two-time world champion Shoma Uno will be seeking his sixth national title when the Japan Championships get underway the week of December 18 in Nagano. 

Uno, who turned 26 on December 17, will be looking to move alongside longtime rival Yuzuru Hanyu with a sixth win at Big Hat when the men's short program begins on Thursday, December 21.

Kaori Sakamoto, also a two-time world titlist, will be aiming for her third consecutive national crown when the women take the ice for their short program on Friday, December 22. Sakamoto is fresh off her first win ever at the Grand Prix Final in Beijing earlier this month.

Though the focus will invariably be on Uno and Sakamoto, the Japan Championships will also determine which six singles skaters will represent the Hinomaru at the 2024 World Figure Skating Championships in Montreal in March.

What to Look For From the Men

The four days of riveting action will conclude on Sunday, December 24 with the announcement of the teams for worlds, junior worlds, and the Four Continents Championships.


On the men's side, three-time Olympic medalist Uno and Beijing silver medalist Yuma Kagiyama appear to be locks for the worlds squad. The real competition will likely come for the third spot, where world junior champion Kao Miura will be battling the likes of Shun Sato, Sota Yamamoto, and Kazuki Tomono.

Japan Championships
Shoma Uno (KYODO)

Uno is coming off a decisive loss to Ilia Malinin at the GP Final, and will be looking to stabilize his quadruple jumps in Nagano. 

Kagiyama, who finished third in China, is continuing his comeback from the ankle injury that forced him to miss almost all of the 2022-23 season. 

Miura was ill during the free skate at the GP Final and could not put on his best performance.

Japan Championships
Kaori Sakamoto won the Grand Prix Final women's title for the first time in her career on December 9. (KYODO)

Top Contenders in the Women's Field

The women's picture looks a bit clearer for Montreal, with Sakamoto, Hana Yoshida, and Rion Sumiyoshi, who all competed in the GP Final, ahead of the rest of the contenders. Rinka Watanabe and Rino Matsuike appear to be the only other two with a legitimate shot at making the team.

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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