Hosts retain Japan Open crown

SAITAMA (Kyodo) — Behind the stellar performances of Satoko Miyahara and Shoma Uno and a surprising contribution from retired star Nobunari Oda, Japan claimed its second straight Japan Open championship on Saturday.

The victory at Saitama Super Arena was Japan’s eighth in the invitational event that includes one team from North America and one from Europe. Four skaters from each team, two men and two women, skate a free program. The Europeans finished second and the North Americans third.

Miyahara scored 143.39 points to finish second to Russia’s Evgenia Medvedeva (147.07), while Japan’s Wakaba Higuchi was fifth with 116.99. Because the competition is not official, Miyahara’s score did not count as a new personal best, yet she was pleased with the results from her new routine ahead of the beginning of the International Skate Union Grand Prix series.

“I was able to skate the way I wanted to on a big stage. I think it’s a good start,” said the 18-year-old Miyahara, who finished fifth at last season’s world championships.

Uno nailed a quad flip en route to winning the men’s program with 198.55, what would also have been his personal best, while Oda, a former Olympian for Japan who currently coaches and performs professionally, hit a quad toeloop and finished third with 178.72. Spain’s Javier Fernandez (192.20) was second.

“I feel relief in being able to land the quad flip in a competition,” said Uno, who in April became the first skater to execute the jump in an international competition and will incorporate it as a regular element in his programs this season.

Oda, who retired three years ago and was skating on his first son’s sixth birthday, exceeded his personal best score by 3 points.

“I was able to give him the best present,” Oda said.

Shoma Uno FS

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