As the 2015-16 season has officially ended, let’s take a look at the world’s top ladies and where they stand after this year- let’s continue with part 3- Japan. Read Part One Read Part Two
Satoko Miyahara- After winning a World medal in 2015, Satoko kept her momentum going with an incredibly consistent year, winning a medal at every event she entered. However, strong performances from usually inconsistent competitors left her in fifth at Worlds. (Though many-myself included-think she should have been at least fourth.) Her incredible consistency makes her a medal threat, but the judges tend to be harsh when her rivals skate well and I’m not sure what Satoko’s team can do about that tbh. I do think she has an polished sense of artistry and I loved both of her programs this year; her short brought out her fun side and her free skate fit her style like a glove. I can’t wait to see what she does next year.
Mao Asada- The skating world rejoiced when Mao returned to competition - she is such a beautiful skater to watch and truly the class of the field. After a strong beginning of the season, her jumps seemed to fail her as the year went on. I think both of her program choices were good ones, especially that pretty free skate, and overall, I trust her and her team to come up with more great content for next season. Though the year may not have gone the way she wanted, if Mao really wants to make an Olympic run, she needed to come back and start laying the groundwork this season. Her triple axel and artistry certainly keep her competitive in any field but next year will be important for her to gain momentum before 2018.
Rika Hongo- Rika started her year off strongly with a medal at Cup of China, but struggled with her consistency the rest of the year. Her team did a great job with her program choices this season, choosing audience-friendly music that was upbeat and masked her weaknesses. She’s already announced she’ll be skating to Carmina Burana and Lawrence of Arabia next year and I’m interested to see what she can do with that. There is a ton of formidable talent in the Japanese junior ladies pool, and Rika is going to have to reign in those jumps to hold her World team spot.
Outside of those three, Yuka Nagai was able to win a bronze medal at Skate Canada and one of my favorites Kanako Murakami finished fourth at both of her Grand Prix events, before placing 6th (Murakami) and 7th (Nagai) at Japanese nationals. Already this year, the field in Japan was packed and it’s only going to get tougher as we head to 2018- with juniors such as Wakaba Higuchi, Marin Honda, and Yuna Shiraiwa making waves on the juniors circuit. Again, I am not sure which junior ladies intend to move up to senior this year, but you can bet that they will challenge for some hardware if they do.
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