Japanese Olympic Team Announced!


The Japanese Figure Skating Championships are one of the few more exciting National Championships out there because the entire competition isn’t just a one pony race. In the singles events, the field is tough and the sad thing is – if some of the lower ranked competitors were from some other country, they’d be going to Sochi right now. In any case, here is the video announcing the Japanese team for Sochi 2014.

In case you can’t quite pick out the names in the flurry of Japanese, they are:


Narumi Takahashi & Ryuichi Kihara

Ice Dance

Cathy Reed & Chris Reed


Akiko Suzuki
Mao Asada
Kanako Murakami


Yuzuru Hanyu
Tatsuki Machida
Daisuke Takahashi

I find it very entertaining that Daisuke got such loud applause compared to all the other competitors. He should really consider signing a record deal after his retirement. Who cares if he can’t sing? There’s autotune for that nowadays…

At the same time, I feel a little sad for Oda and Kozuka. Both very talented but didn’t do as well as expected at Nationals. Honestly, maybe Canada or the U.S. should give a spot or two to these two. I wouldn’t really miss Kevin Reynolds in Sochi. Who agrees?

Speaking of the results of Japanese Nationals, some of them were rather surprising. Here are the screenshots of the final results for the ladies and men from the JSF website:

Japanese Nationals 2013 men results

Japanese Nationals 2013 ladies results

A few comments in point form:

  • Despite the fact that Daisuke Takahashi is the fan favourite (I mean, just listen to the cheering), I think the JSF is backing Yuzuru in Sochi.
  • Daisuke is still dealing with injuries (hence his poor result) but we hope that he will recover in time for the Olympics.
  • Mao was a bit shaky at Nationals while Kanako and Akiko delivered flawless LPs. Darling friend and reader, Ay-sa thought it was a little strange that they didn’t prop Mao up with PCS but I think Akiko and Kanako’s skating this weekend spoke for themselves. Just as Scott Moir once said, “You just have to skate well so they can’t deny you.”
  • I wonder if Mao’s PCS might be affected by the fact that she’s not going into the Olympics as the top ranked lady in Japan. This may hurt her chances against Yuna Kim.
  • Miki Ando is definitely at the end of her career. Then again, I think we all knew that when little Elena Radionova beat her in the pre-season.

The Highlights

Here are some of the highlights from the Japanese National Figure Skating Championships:

Yuzuru has been in attack mode since the GPF and I quite like it. He seemed to be channeling Plushenko at the end of his program with that “Number 1” pose, with his index finger raised. Although the scores at National Championships are inflated, I actually wouldn’t be surprised if he got this score (103.10 – which would’ve been a world record if he had gotten it at an ISU sanctioned event) at the GPF had he not had that bobble on that last spin.

For those of you who don’t understand Japanese, the lady in the stands is Akiko’s mother who has come to watch her at her last National Championships. As for the program, let me make it absolutely clear that I actually HATE programs set to the Phantom of the Opera. I think the music is cheesy and the crescendos and drama make it a dime-a-dozen kind of program. HOWEVER, there are exceptions to this dislike and this, I must say, is one of them. The program uses all the crescendos and soaring parts of the music very well and Akiko sells the program as she always does – with her heart on her sleeve while giving 150%. There were moments here that were almost Kwan-esque and I found myself tearing up at the end for her. I doubt she’ll beat Mao at the Olympics given that Mao will always be the JSF’s favourite but I’m glad that she was rightfully judged and given the gold here, at her very last National championships. I really wish you didn’t have to leave us, Akiko. You get better with age.

What are your thoughts on the Japanese National Championships? Let me know in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Selina Louie
    Dec 24, 2013 @ 11:03:22

    You wouldn’t happen to know which specific songs from the Phantom Akiko Suzuki is using would you?


    • rinksidecafe
      Dec 24, 2013 @ 16:51:58

      For this program, I think Akiko is using the Phantasia suite since it has no vocals:

      As for theoriginal songs in the Phantasia suite that were used in that program in order:
      – Masquerade
      – Think of Me
      – Past the Point of No Return
      – Music of the Night

      If you want a great version with the vocals, I suggest the original Canadian cast starring Rebecca Caine as Christine and Colm Wilkinson as the Phantom


  2. nonchanyuzu
    Dec 26, 2013 @ 07:44:49

    I actually love Kevin Reynolds! Way better than Patrick Chan seriously. From your blog I know you aren’t a big fan of him too, and Kevin’s attitude is just great. I wish him the best. The men’s event at nationals were so hard to watch. Japan really should deserve 2 more spots at the Olympics. I think rather than the number of spots per country, it should be based on the top skaters based on world rankings… but then we will only have like 5 countries for figure skating…


  3. LaPat Skate
    Jan 04, 2014 @ 14:59:41

    A little bit late…these Nationals were amazing both for technique and for emotions poured on ice. Sad for Nobu and Taka K., but so happy for Dai-chan. His tears after Free program and at the interview when he tought to be out of Olympic Team…he broke my heart. His Beatles Medley is a “thankyou” to his fans and to all figure skating lovers and for this reason he deserves to performe it in Sochi.


  4. Andrea Kobayashi (@AndreaKobayashi)
    Jan 09, 2014 @ 04:11:15

    It was such a tense event, and I agree with nonchanyuzu that the men’s event was difficult viewing. The Sochi team announcement was really stressful to watch. If Takahashi had been left off that list, I think there would have been a riot! At Cup of China in 2012, Machida won gold and Takahashi silver. The TV interviewer asked Machida if he had congratulated Takahashi on his medal and Machida’s reply was something like “Are you kidding. He’s the sempai, I don’t speak to him unless he speaks to me.” Takahashi is a kind of captain amongst the skaters. There is no way the JSF were going to leave him at home, even so, that slight pause before the 3rd place was announced had everyone so nervous. I tip Hanyu for Sochi gold, I very much enjoyed the young skaters Uno and Miyahara at the J nationals, and Imai displayed much more focus than usual and was impressive. Sorry for a long comment and Happy New Year!


    • rinksidecafe
      Jan 09, 2014 @ 14:12:38

      No, I love long comments!
      I’m so glad that the skaters in Team Japan have such a good sense of respect and camaraderie with each other. It’s just so sad that so many of these talented skaters would’ve competed at the Olympics if they weren’t Japanese. I haven’t watched the skates from some of the younger skaters yet but I hope that Japan will have some skaters to face off against the onslaught of young Russian ladies at least. Do you find any of them promising?


      • Nozomi
        Jan 09, 2014 @ 21:23:47

        Marin Honda is a definite skater to count on. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ie-fcsAGZ4
        She is the sister of famous actress Miyu Honda. They also have 2 other siblings that skate-that’s one humongous skating family! I also like Rika Hongo. As for the boys, maybe Shoma Uno but I’m worried about Ryuju Hino. He was great rivals with Yuzuru back during their junior careers but the rivalry is definitely gone now.

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