Mao Shimada Sensational on Way to Winning World Junior Title
Seizing the moment, Mao Shimada had a stunning performance highlighted by a triple axel, a quadruple toe loop and a total of eight clean triple jumps.
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CALGARY, Canada ― Japan is halfway to the Mao-Kao golden double.
A spectacular free skate from Mao Shimada blew away the competition at the World Junior Championships on Friday night, March 3 at WinSport Arena. The 14-year-old claimed the gold medal with a stunning performance highlighted by a triple axel, a quadruple toe loop and a total of eight clean triple jumps.
Shimada achieved a new personal best for total score in the victory with 224.54 points. So dominant was the Tokyo native's skate that she won by an astounding 22 points, after leading by less than one point after the short program.
The result capped off a season that saw Shimada win every competition she entered with the exception of the Japan Championships, where she came in third behind world champion Kaori Sakamoto and Grand Prix Final titlist Mai Mihara.
Kao Miura, who is in first place after the men's short program, will try to complete the golden double for the Hinomaru on Saturday night in the free skate. A victory by Miura in the Canadian province of Alberta on Saturday would give Japan its first golden sweep of the world junior titles in 13 years. Yuzuru Hanyu and Kanako Murakami achieved the feat in 2010.
South Korea's Jia Shin took the silver with 201.90 points, while Shimada's teammate Ami Nakai collected the bronze with 197.40. Shin's compatriot Yujae Kim was fourth on 193.62.
Shimada is Youngest Japanese Woman to Win World Junior Title
The triumph made Shimada the eighth Japanese woman to capture the world junior crown and the youngest ever from her country, surpassing Mao Asada. Previous winners were Yuka Sato (1990), Kumiko Koiwai (1993), Yukina Ota (2003), Miki Ando (2004), Mao (2005), Murakami (2010) and Marin Honda (2016).
"It is a surprise and also a big joy to find myself in the line of these wonderful, very strong skaters, and I was really glad that I was able to get this gold medal," Shimada stated.
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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 Twitter @sportsjapan.
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