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Figure skating: Sakamoto, Yamamoto top Skate Canada after SP

Japan’s two-time reigning world champion Kaori Sakamoto was top after the women’s short program at Skate Canada on Friday, the second event of the ISU Grand Prix series, with Sota Yamamoto also coming first after the men’s.

Sakamoto logged 75.13 points at Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre in Vancouver, holding a sizable lead over second-placed South Korean Kin Chae Yeon (70.31) and fellow Japanese Rino Matsuike (66.29) in third.

“The score (of over 75) was something I was aiming for,” Sakamoto said. “As expected, the nervousness got bigger as my turn approached. The performance gave me the motivation to concentrate more in the free skate, rather than momentum.”

Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto performs in the women’s short program at Skate Canada, the second event of the ISU Grand Prix figure skaitng series, in Vancouver on Oct. 27, 2023. (Kyodo)

Sakamoto expressed her relief after landing a triple flip-triple toeloop combination midway through as her body tilted with the opening flip.

“I was so relieved I can’t even recall the moment I landed it,” she said. “I don’t want to do anything dangerous like today (in the free skate). I want to attach quality to all my elements.”

Japan’s Rinka Watanabe, the winner of last year’s event, was in seventh on 57.52 points.

Yamamoto topped the men’s standings, scoring 89.56, followed by South Korean Cha Jun Hwan’s 86.18 and fellow Japanese Kazuki Tomono’s 81.63.

Yamamoto, who came second at the Grand Prix Final last season, landed his opening quad-triple toeloop combination as well as a triple axel.

“I could lift my spirit ahead of my performance,” Yamamoto said. “I was wasteful dropping some points with my spins, but I’d give myself a pass mark, given this was my first appearance of the series. I hope to give all I have again in the free skate.”

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