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Figure skating: Kaori Sakamoto eases to 2nd straight Grand Prix gold


Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto won her second straight figure skating Grand Prix series event Saturday, finishing ahead of compatriot Rion Sumiyoshi at the Grand Prix Espoo in Finland.

Two-time defending world champion Sakamoto followed her top-scoring short program by also winning the free skate, adding 135.52 points for a 205.21 total at Espoo Metro Areena.

Kaori Sakamoto poses with the Japanese flag after her victory in the women’s event at the Grand Prix Espoo figure skating competition in Espoo, Finland, on Nov. 18, 2023. (AP/Kyodo)   

Her victory in the fifth event of the season also sealed her spot at the six-woman Grand Prix Final in December in Beijing.

Despite mistakes with her triple jumps, Sakamoto comfortably kept her lead to secure back-to-back titles after winning Skate Canada International, the season’s second event, on Oct. 28.

Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto performs in the women’s free skate en route to winning the Grand Prix Espoo figure skating competition in Espoo, Finland, on Nov. 18, 2023. (International Skating Union/Getty/Kyodo) 

The 23-year-old has now won five ISU Grand Prix gold medals for her career, tying with fellow two-time world champion Miki Ando.

Sumiyoshi, second after the short program, settled for third in the free skate after falling on her triple loop, but she nevertheless earned her best finish in the series with a 190.21 total.

Gold medal winner Kaori Sakamoto of Japan (C), compatriot and silver medalist Rion Sumiyoshi (L) and bronze medalist Amber Glenn of the United States pose for photos after the Grand Prix Espoo figure skating competition in Espoo, Finland, on Nov. 18, 2023. (International Skating Union/Getty/Kyodo)

Amber Glenn of the United States, 11th after the short program, jumped to third with a 185.39 total.

Sakamoto and Sumiyoshi wrapped up a successful weekend in Finland for Japanese skaters after Kao Miura and Shun Sato also finished first and second earlier on Saturday in the men’s category.


Related coverage:

Figure skating: Miura wins 1st Grand Prix event, Sato 2nd in Finland

Figure skating: Kaori Sakamoto leads Japanese short program blitz

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