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After Short Program at World Junior Championships, Jia Shin Holds Slim Edge Over Mao Shimada

Reigning champion Shimada, who battled nerves, is less than a point behind her South Korean rival at the World Junior Championships in Taipei.

South Korea's Jia Shin grabbed the lead in the women's short program at the World Junior Championships at Taipei Arena on Wednesday night, February 28 with an elegant performance. That put her less than one point ahead of defending world junior titlist Mao Shimada.

Shin, who has been a perennial runner-up to Shimada the past two seasons, is on top with a score of 73.48 points, while Shimada tallied 72.60 in second. Ikura Kushida, Shimada's teammate, is third on 66.61.

Finland's Iida Karhunen stands in fourth with 64.64, while Rena Uezono is in eighth at 61.96.

Shin, who has been the silver medalist at the world juniors the past two years, will try to win her first world crown in Friday's free skate. There she will have the daunting task of finding a way to hold off Shimada and her triple axel and quadruple toe loop.

The 15-year-old Shin skated to "Fascination" and displayed exquisite line and edge throughout her program on the way to a new personal best. Shin opened with a big triple flip/triple toe loop combination jump, then hit a double axel, and went on to land a nice triple lutz. The Busan native earned level fours on all of her spins and step sequence.

"I am very happy. This is the first time I managed to get first place on such an occasion," Shin stated. "I rate my performance today at around 80-90 percent of my capability and give myself bonus points for my feeling right now."

Added Shin, "I was a bit more calm than in the past, so I think this is what made the difference today."

World Junior Championships
Mao Shimada skates to "Americano" in the women's short program at the World Junior Championships. (KYODO)

Shimada Copes with Nerves at World Junior Championships

Shimada is in good shape despite battling nerves

Trying to become just the third woman ever to repeat as the world junior champion, Shimada looked sharp in her skate to "Americano." But she was hit with an edge call on the front end of her triple flip/triple toe loop combo.

She landed her double axel and triple lutz without any issues and notched level fours on all of her spins and step sequence, but looked surprised that she did not receive a higher score when it was announced.

"I thought I wasn't very nervous when I came to the venue, but when it was time for the actual performance, I was very nervous," Shimada declared. "Despite all that, although it wasn't my season's best, I'm very happy that I was able to have a good performance."

World Junior Championships
Mao Shimada reacts after her short program. (©ISU)

Shimada said she was concerned after training earlier in the day.

"We had practices in two rinks," she stated. "My practice was good in one of them, but the feeling was slightly different in the other one. The morning practice also felt different, so I was a little worried. But I'm glad that I was able to bring out what I practiced with my jumps."

World Junior Championships
Ikura Kushida performs her rendition of the "Red Violin" in the women's short program. (KYODO)

Solid Outing Gives Kushida a Shot at Podium

Kushida is almost six points behind Shimada despite a fine outing in her skate to "Red Violin." The 15-year-old skater began with a triple flip/triple toe loop combo, then hit a triple axel, and also executed a nice triple lutz.

Kushida, who was second at the Japan Junior Championships in November 2023, received level fours for all of her spins and a level three on her step sequence.

"This was my first big competition, so I was more nervous than usual," Kushida noted. "But I'm very happy that I was able to land all my jumps. The very warm cheers and applause from the audience gave me strength."

Added Kushida, "In the six-minute warmup the jumps felt different than usual, so I was a little worried ahead of my performance. But after I landed the first jump without any mistakes, I was able to land the other jumps as well."

World Junior Championships
Rena Uezono in action in the women's short program. (KYODO)

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Uezono a Bit Off Her Usual Pace

Uezono, the bronze medalist at the Junior Grand Prix Final in December behind Shimada and Shin, fell on the back end of her triple flip/triple toe loop combo in her routine to "New Moon" and "F For You." She recorded level fours on all of her spins and a level three on her step sequence.

Despite the miscue, the 13-year-old is still in position to challenge for the podium in the free skate.

"I think I was able to reach my goal a little, which was to move the audience," Uezono remarked. "Going into the free [skate], I want to do my best so I can do that even more.

"I think there were parts in my spins where it wasn't very clean," Uezono continued. "And] I want to do my best to spin more beautifully."

World Junior Championships
Georgia's Anastasiia Metelkina and Luka Berulava dazzle the crowd during their pairs short program routine. (©ISU)

Metelkina, Berulava Open Big Lead in Pairs

Georgia's Anastasiia Metelkina and Luka Berulava have a huge advantage after the pairs short program with 71.53. They are more than nine points ahead of Olivia Flores and Luke Wang of the United States, who are in second at 62.33.

Japan's Sae Shimizu and Lucas Tsuyoshi Honda are in 16th place on 43.69, but have qualified for Thursday's free skate.

World Junior Championships
Sae Shimizu (left) and Lucas Tsuyoshi Honda skate in the pairs short program. (KYODO)

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Author: Jack Gallagher

The author is a veteran sports journalist and one of the world's foremost figure skating experts. Find articles and podcasts by Jack on his author page, and find him on X (formerly Twitter) @sportsjapan.

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