Read the full story on SportsLook - Title Quest at Grand Prix Final: Kaori Sakamoto Seizes the Lead in the Short Program
Sakamoto, skating in the third GP Final of her career, is attempting to win the prestigious competition for the first time.
The 23-year-old Sakamoto is in first place with 77.35 points, ahead of Belgium's Loena Hendrickx, who is second at 73.25, and her compatriot Nina Pinzarrone, who is third on 66.72.
Sakamoto skated to "Baby, God Bless You" and opened with a double axel, then landed a triple lutz, and went on to execute a fine triple flip/triple toe loop combination jump. She earned level fours on two of her spins and step sequence.
"Today I am very satisfied because I think I was able to give my best performance," Sakamoto stated. "In practice and before Finland, I had confidence and I wanted to connect the confidence with the competition. So I'm happy I was able to do that."
Sakamoto, the bronze medalist at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, acknowledged that she was only halfway to victory.
"I want to answer the expectations of those around me, and my own expectations as well," Sakamoto commented. "In the short program in the previous Grand Prix Final [in December 2022] I was able to do well. The real competition starts from here. I think I have to win against myself, so I want to focus and do my best."
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.