IZUMISANO, Osaka Pref. – World junior champion Mao Shimada worked on her free skate during the Osaka Junior Grand Prix official practice at Kanku Ice Arena on Wednesday afternoon, September 13. It was just ahead of the women's short program on Friday where the young star will make her JGP season debut.
The 14-year-old ran through her routine to "Benedictus" during the 35-minute session and landed all her jumps with the exception of her quadruple toe loop. She fell several times during the practice while trying to land the difficult jump, but cleanly hit her triple axel repeatedly.
"I had a good feeling today," Shimada stated before adding, "I don't think it was bad (practice)."
For Japan, the Osaka JGP will be the first time it has hosted a Junior Grand Prix since 2016, when it was held in Yokohama. At that event, the Hinomaru swept the women's event, with Kaori Sakamoto taking gold, Marin Honda silver and Mako Yamashita bronze.
Asked about her goal for the competition, Shimada noted that she did not want to let her familiarity with the rink make her too comfortable.
"I have a feeling that I want to stand at the top of the podium in front of everyone in Japan," Shimada commented. "If you think it will be easy (because you know the rink), your performance will become hard. So I want to enjoy and skate freely."
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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.