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Figure Skating

Kaori Sakamoto Goes Through Final Preparations in Bid for a 3rd Straight World Title

After skating to "Baby, God Bless You," Kaori Sakamoto worked on her triple flip/triple toe loop combination for the world championships in Montreal.

Kaori Sakamoto worked on her short program at practice on Tuesday morning, March 19, at the Bell Centre in Montreal ahead of the start of the World Figure Skating Championships on Wednesday.

The 23-year-old will be going for her third consecutive world crown when the action gets underway with the short program on Wednesday evening.

After skating to "Baby, God Bless You" in the main rink, Sakamoto worked on her triple flip/triple toe loop combination, according to observers. 

"I will do my best," Sakamoto was quoted as saying before adding, "I have no choice but to do it."

Kaori Sakamoto
Kaori Sakamoto trains on March 18 in Montreal. (KYODO)

Kaori Sakamoto Says She's Not Nervous

Following her first practice on Monday, Sakamoto expressed confidence in her form.

"This year's world championships feel like any other competition, rather than making me nervous," Sakamoto stated. "I think I can really relax, so I hope I can continue to stay as relaxed as I am now."

Added Sakamoto, "I don't feel as nervous as I was when I was going for my second straight title. Right now, I have more feelings toward wanting to bring out everything I can do."

Mone Chiba prepares for the world championships. (KYODO)

Chiba Showcases Jumping Ability in Practice

Four Continents winner Mone Chiba, who will compete in the senior worlds for the first time, ran through her free skate to "1900's Theme" and hit all seven of her triple jumps in an impressive performance.

After Monday's opening practice, Chiba talked about her focus in the run-up to the worlds.

"I worked a lot on my artistry prior to this competition, but of course, I also want to show my best jumps of the season," Chiba commented. "On this ice, it's really easy to skate. From this point, I want to take care of myself, both mentally and physically, and head in a direction where I can grasp the ice a little easier."

Senior worlds debutante Hana Yoshida (KYODO)

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Yoshida Focuses on Triple Axel

Hana Yoshida, the bronze medalist at this season's Grand Prix Final, is also making her debut at the senior worlds. She practiced her free skate to "Shakuhachi" and fell on her opening triple axel. But she made it through the rest of the program smoothly.

After the music stopped, Yoshida worked continuously on her triple axel.

"The ice felt really good and I really enjoyed skating today," Yoshida noted after Monday's morning workout. She added, "The condition of my axel keeps getting better, and today I was able to do jumps as I imagined them. I want to keep increasing my condition and give it my all."

Shoma Uno is vying for his third world title in Montreal. (KYODO)

Uno Tumbles During Opening Quadruple Flip

Two-time world champion Shoma Uno practiced his short program to "I Love You Kung Fu" on Tuesday morning in the practice rink and fell on his opening quadruple flip. He did land his quad toe loop/triple toe loop and triple axel without difficulty.

"I did as much as I can preparation-wise," Uno remarked after Monday's first training session. "My physical condition is the best ever."

Added Uno, "As I don't have the quad salchow in my program, the smaller rink size doesn't bother me too much. It sometimes bothers a bit with the quad loop and the steps. I feel pretty confident about the quad toe loop. Sometimes I get under-rotations on the quad flip, so I need to take care of that."

Yuma Kagiyama (KYODO)

Kagiyama Looks Sharp in Preparations for Free Skate

Beijing Olympic silver medalist Yuma Kagiyama worked on his free skate to "Believer" Tuesday morning and was sharp, hitting a quad salchow and quad toe loop/euler/triple salchow combination as the music played.

Kagiyama indicated he was in top form for the event after Monday's first practice.

"I have no fears at this point," Kagiyama said, adding, "I have abandoned everything that scares me." 

He then said, "I feel like I am in the best form of my life."

Kagiyama revealed that he had been in-country for a while in preparation for the worlds.

"I spent two weeks in Canada prior to this championship working with [choreographer] Lori Nichol, so I also have no problem with jet lag," the 20-year-old said.

Kao Miura works out in Montreal. (KYODO)

Miura Pleased with Physical Condition

World junior champion Kao Miura, who is also appearing in the senior worlds for the first time, ran through his short program to "This Place Was a Shelter" and had no issues, hitting both of his quads.

"I am in the best condition of my life," Miura stated after Monday's first session before saying, "I am very sharp in my movements."

Added Miura, "I have been doing well with my jumps during the last month."

Miura said that with Uno and Kagiyama competing, he is not feeling anxious.

"Having the reigning world and Four Continents champions here with me, I feel like Japan is safe with securing three spots [for next year's worlds]," he commented. "So I don't feel much pressure."

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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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