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Kaori Sakamoto Reigns Again at Japan Championships with Huge Score

Kobe native Sakamoto triumphed for the third straight year at the Japan Championships as she exhibited her superior skating skills in the runaway victory.



Japan Championships
Kaori Sakamoto glides across the ice while performing her free skate routine at the Japan Championships on December 24, 2023, at Big Hat Ice Arena in Nagano. (ⒸSANKEI)

Read the full story on SportsLook - Kaori Sakamoto Reigns Again at Japan Championships with Huge Score

Two-time world champion Kaori Sakamoto won her fourth national title by a large margin with a solid free skate at the Japan Championships at Big Hat Ice Arena in Nagano on Sunday night, December 24. 

Sakamoto claimed her third straight crown by more than 23 points before a packed house that gave her performance a standing ovation.

The Kobe native's winning total score was 233.12 points, well in front of Mone Chiba, who finished second with 209.27. World junior champion Mao Shimada came in third for the second straight year at 202.18.

Japan Championships
Japan Championships women's champion Kaori Sakamoto (center), silver medalist Mone Chiba (left) and third-place finisher Mao Shimada display their medals after the competition. (KYODO)

Junior Rena Uezono took fourth on 200.69, while Mai Mihara finished fifth at 199.56. Rinka Watanabe was sixth with 194.88, while Hana Yoshida, a strong contender to earn a spot on Japan's team for the 2024 World Figure Skating Championships coming in, ended up seventh on 194.22.

Mako Yamashita, who was second after the short program, wound up eighth at 192.15.


Sakamoto Staves off Stress on Way to Another Win

There was not much drama at the top this night, as the 23-year-old Sakamoto showed off her superior skating skills in a runaway victory. She skated to "Wild Is The Wing" and "Feeling Good" and calmly rattled off the elements of her program like a singer performing the lyrics of their favorite song.

The Beijing Olympic bronze medalist landed six clean triples and earned a level four on her step sequence on the way to the triumph. Sakamoto had a few issues on her spins, but it didn't matter in the end.

Japan Championships
Kaori Sakamoto reacts after a strong performance in her free skate routine. (KYODO)

"I was worried about how I would do in the free skate, but I was relieved that I was able to finish without making any major mistakes," Sakamoto stated. "After having mixed feelings about my (morning) practice, I relaxed, met some friends and talked to them, and took a walk with my trainer.

"I relieved myself of stress through talking, so after that I was able to switch (my feelings)."

Sakamoto said her free skate passed by quickly.

"While I was performing, I didn't think about anything," Sakamoto commented. "I started noticing my skating when I was already skating in my choreo sequence. It was good not to have thought too much."

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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