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Mao Shimada, Ami Nakai Aiming for Glory at the World Junior Championships

Shimada, the women's title favorite at the World Junior Championships, looked especially fluid as she skated to her short program of "Lion King."

CALGARY, Canada ― Junior Grand Prix Final champion Mao Shimada and Japan junior bronze medalist Ami Nakai continued practicing on Tuesday morning, February 28 ahead of the women's short program at the World Junior Championships on Wednesday.

The pair trained in the main rink at WinSport Arena, going through their final preparations before the competition gets underway. Shimada and Nakai both came through the official session unscathed.

Some 47 skaters will take the ice for the short program in the Canadian province of Alberta, with Shimada favored to take the gold and Nakai, who won a Junior Grand Prix this season, having a legitimate chance for a medal.

Shimada, who will be the final skater in the seventh group on Wednesday night, looked especially fluid as she skated to her short program of "Lion King." She popped her opening double axel, but moved seamlessly through the rest of the program.

"I am improving each day, but not in perfect condition yet," Shimada stated.

The 14-year-old star has achieved the goals she set forth before the season began.

"I wanted to make both the Grand Prix Final and the World Junior Championships," Shimada commented. "My goal here is to make the podium and win the gold."

Added Shimada, "I want to land my triple axel and my quadruple toe loop. That is what I am striving for."

Shimada also noted that she is looking to represent Japan at the Winter Youth Olympics next January in South Korea.

Nakai Targets a Medal at World Junior Championships

Nakai, also 14, moved well through her short program to "I Got Rhythm." She looked especially sharp on her spins.

"My body is feeling better day by day," Nakai commented. "By the start of the competition tomorrow, I will be in good condition."

The Niigata native, who has been training hard here, said she has been aiming for this event since last summer.

"My goal this season was to make the podium at the World Junior Championships," Nakai remarked. "The key to my success this season has been my ability to consistently land my triple axel."

Nakai, who will be the first skater in the seventh group, said she also hopes to be selected for the Winter Youth Olympics.

Afternoon Workout for Miura, Yoshioka

Meanwhile, Four Continents champion Kao Miura and Japan junior winner Nozomu Yoshioka also trained on the main rink in the afternoon.

Miura went through his free skate to "Beauty and the Beast." The 17-year-old landed several quads during the session.

Yoshioka practiced his free skate to "Pirates of the Caribbean" and executed numerous triples during the 35-minute workout.

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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 Twitter @sportsjapan.


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