[ICE TIME] Japan Championships Filled with Intriguing Storylines as Skaters Vie for Olympic Berths

Summarized by: Live Sports Direct
[ICE TIME] Japan Championships Filled with Intriguing Storylines as Skaters Vie for Olympic Berths

The Japan Figure Skating Championships start on Thursday, December 23 at Saitama Super Arena. Yuzuru Hanyu is injured and hasn't trained this season. He missed Wednesday's official practice. Shoma Uno twisted his ankle during training last Saturday. Kagiyama is the world silver medalist last season behind Nathan Chen. Shun Sato and Kazuki Tomono could have a shot at the third spot. The selection for the men's national squad for February should be straightforward. If Hanya doesn't make it, they could be replaced by Shumita Kagiya. They are the only two skaters who can qualify for Beijing.

Kihira is injured and she is out of contention for the Japan women's national team. Kaori Sakamoto is the current favorite, but there are several other women who are also interested in the team and the Olympic berths.  Satoko Miyahara, Wakaba Higuchi, Mai Mihara, Rino Matsuike and Mana Kawabe are the other competitors.

Sakamoto and Higuchi are the favourites to win the title. Mihara is well positioned to make the team. Kawabe is the sentimental choice.  Matsuike and Kawabita are also in the running. They are competing for the final spot. The competition starts on Saturday. It's a competition for places in Beijing Olympics. There are four women competing. All are aiming for an Olympic berth. Their performances this season have been disappointing. Sakamoto, Higuchu and Matsuke are in good shape.

Matsuike and Kawabe are the wild cards in the competition. If one of them wins, they will be automatically on the Olympic team. Matsuke has struggled this season with an ankle injury. Kawabe is the 2019 junior champion. She is also the winner of the 2021 NHK Trophy. If she wins and Mihara doesn't make the podium, the JSF will have to make a tough decision. The winner will get the ticket to China. They will choose between her and Sakamoto.

Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara were selected as the pairs team for Beijing. They have won the Autumn Classic and finished second at Skate America and third at the NHK Trophy this season.

Two teams are competing at the Japan Championships for the one ice dance spot for Beijing. Misato Komatsubara and Tim Koleto are the three-time Japan champions. Kana Muramoto and Daisuke Takahashi are coming on strong. The duo took sixth place at NHK Trophy and came in second at Challenger Series Warsaw Cup.