[ICE TIME] World Champion Shoma Uno, Kaori Sakamoto Headline Grand Prix Series

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Japanese Racing Association

The release of the Grand Prix assignments on Friday 22nd July signaled the start of the new season. It also marks the beginning of the new four-year cycle that will end with the 2026 Olympics.

With the retirement of Yuzuru Hanyu, the absence of Olympic champion Nathan Chen and the suspended Russian skaters, this season’s list looks very different from previous years.

Chen is taking the Grand Prix season off to focus on his studies at Yale, while world bronze medalist Vincent Zhou of the United States will do the same at Brown.

Beijing Olympic champion Anna Shcherbakova and silver medalist Alexandra Trusova and fourth-placed Kamila Valieva have all been barred from competing in the GP series due to the ongoing ISU ban on Russian athletes after the war in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Olympic pairing gold medalists Wenjing Sui and Cong Han of China and ice dance Olympic champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France have decided to sit out this season.

New locales and assignment

Two of this season’s Grand Prix events will also be held at new locations, with the Espoo Grand Prix in Finland replacing the Cup of Russia and the MK John Wilson Trophy in Sheffield, England taking over from the Cup of China.

World Champion Shoma Uno has drawn Skate Canada (October 28-30) and the NHK Trophy (November 18-20) in Sapporo this season. Uno will be a heavy favorite in both events. on Hokkaido, Kazuki Tomono is entered together with American Tomoki Hiwatashi.

In Mississauga, Ontario, a fellow countryman will join Uno Kao Miura and face off against a lineup that includes China Boyang Jinof Italy Matteo Rizzo and american Camden Pulkinen.

Skate America offers interesting mixes

world title Kaori Sakamoto will hit the ice at the Skate America season opener (October 21-23) and the NHK Trophy. Rino Matsuikewho has had a disappointing season is also scheduled for the event in Norwood, Massachusetts, where other prominent skaters will include the world junior champion Isabeau Levito and South Korea’s Hain Lee.

Silver medalist at the Beijing Olympics Yuma Kagiyama is scheduled for Skate America and the Grand Prix de France (November 4-6). Skate America should make for an intriguing competition as Kagiyama will take over the world junior rankings Ilya Malininas well as teammate Sena MiyakeSouth Korea Junhwan Cha and Italy Daniel Grassl.

Skate Canada and Grand Prix de France

In Angers, France, Kagiyama will face off against his compatriots Tomono and Sota Yamamoto and those of the host country Kevin Aimoz.

Two-time national champion Rika Kihirawho missed last season with a right ankle injury, is scheduled to compete at Skate Canada and the Grand Prix Espoo (November 25-27). Wakaba Higuchi and Yuhana Yokoi will join Kihira in Canada, where the squad will include South Korea young you and Eunsoo Lim.

A strong performance by Yokoi in Ontario could earn her an undeclared spot as host country for the NHK Trophy. 22-year-old Yokoi expressed surprise at her selection after struggling last season.

“Realistically, based on last season’s results, I figured my name wouldn’t appear, I wouldn’t mind,” Yokoi wrote on Twitter. “But maybe I thought so, too [there was a chance]…”

In Espoo, Finland, Kihira will put on the boots against teammates Mana Kawabe and May Mihara. Two-time US Champion Brady Tennell and world silver medalist Loena Hendrickx from Belgium.

Higuchi’s second assignment will be the NHK Trophy, while Kawabe will start her GP season in France, where Matsuike is a GP debutant Rion Sumiyoshi it was slit. Hendrickx and Lee will also travel to Angers.

competition in the UK

Mihara will be the only Hinomaru skater in Sheffield (11-13 November) where she will compete against Levito, Tennell and You.

Avoid Sato, Koshiro Shimada and world junior bronze medalist Tatsuya Tsuboi will also travel to England and fight for the title with Georgia Morisi Kvitelsashvili and Grassl.

Lucas Tsuyoshi Honda was tapped for the Grand Prix Espoo along with Sato and Tsuboi. The trio will face formidable opponents in Malinin and Pulkinen.

pair competition

Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara, one of last season’s surprises, drew Skate Canada and the NHK Trophy.

Beijing Olympic ice dancers Misato Komatsubara and Tim Koleto, who live in Montreal, will be competing at Skate Canada and likely earn a second NHK Trophy appearance.

Kana Muramoto and Daisuke Takahashi’s team is confirmed for both Skate America and the NHK Trophy. Muramoto and Takahashi will take on world champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier of the USA at Skate America.

Shimada invited to practice with experienced skaters

The Japan Skating Federation held its annual senior skater camp earlier this month in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture. Japanese Junior Champion Mao Shimada was invited to train with her elders and spoke about what it was like to go on the ice with them.

“It’s hard to experience training camps with seniors,” noted 13-year-old Shimada. “I’m glad to have a chance. I don’t [a new jump]but this season I want to use both [a triple] Axel and Quad in the freestyle.”

Shimada missed a chance to compete in the 2026 Olympics when the ISU increased age limit rules starting next season. Skaters must be 17 years old by July 1, 2025 to compete in Milan. Shimada was born on October 30, 2008.

When it was pointed out that her namesake Mao Asada missed the 2006 Olympics due to an age rule, Shimada had a great response.

“Mao also had good results at the next Olympics (silver medal at the Vancouver 2010 Games), so I wish I could do that too,” Shimada said.

More controversy about Russia

Alexandra Trusova was due to lead a master class in Sweden next month, sponsored by sporting goods store LOOP SPORT and a Stockholm ice skating club. The event was scheduled for August 27-28 until it was abruptly canceled on Friday after pressure from the Swedish FA.

In a statement translated and published on fs-gossips.com, the federation wrote to organizer and sports association Djugardens IF: “Say your planned activity Master Class 27th-28 goes against the federation’s values ​​and risks destroying Swedish figure skating to cause serious harm.”

The cancellation was quickly followed by predictable outrage from Russia.

According to a translation posted on fs-gossips.com, legendary coach Tatiana Tarasova didn’t hit with her analysis for Match TV.

“In my opinion, this decision was made by the ISU, not the Swedish federation,” Tarasova said. “I think they put pressure on the Swedes.

“The Swedes got a call from the international federation saying there shouldn’t be any Russian athletes, that they wouldn’t compete and therefore probably couldn’t teach.”

Renat Laishev, the general director of Trusova’s club Sambo-70 in Moscow, blasted the move.

“The situation with the cancellation of Sasha Trusova’s master class in Stockholm once again underlines that there are reasonable and understanding people who are in favor of preserving the life of Russian sports, culture, etc., but there is lawlessness, lack of culture, Cowardice that is now manifesting everywhere,” Laishev commented to Match TV.

“This gang of foolish leaders who have now come to the West is spoiling lives,” Laishev added.

Ice Time marvels at the wisdom of this decision. It’s one thing to ban Russian athletes from international competitions, quite another to prevent young skaters in another country from learning privately from one of the best skaters in the world.

Author: Jack Gallagher

The author is a veteran sports journalist and one of the world’s leading figure skating experts. Find Jack’s articles and podcasts on his author page, hereand find him on Twitter @sportjapan.

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