Asada’s Influence on 13-Year-Old Rena Uezono’s Pursuit of Unexpected Figure Skating Predecessor | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Asada’s Influence on 13-Year-Old Rena Uezono’s Pursuit of Unexpected Figure Skating Predecessor

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In the big competition, a gem in the rough shined a ray of light.

The All-Japan Figure Skating Championships were held at Big Hat in Nagano in late December last year. While Kaori SAKAMOTO (23, Sysmex) won her third consecutive title, 13-year-old Korina UEZONO (LYS) came in a very strong 4th place.

Korina Uezono performing in the SP at the All-Japan Championships

In both SP and FS, she showed her full potential, and her total score reached the 200-point mark for the first time in her career. She was only 1.49 points short of the podium, the first time in 43 events that a girl under junior high school age has made it to the podium since Midori Ito, who placed 3rd in the 5th grade, but it was refreshing to see her say with an innocent expression on her face, “I just have to give everything I can right now.

I was thinking only of giving everything I could now, and I wasn’t concerned about the score, so I was very surprised (to exceed 200 points). I am so grateful to have skated amongst so many good skaters, and I hope to make the most of it in the future.

Born in Kitanagoya City, Aichi Prefecture, a “figure skating kingdom,” she started competing “as it should be,” when she was 4 years old. She took to the ice at the age of 5, unable to forget the moment Mao Asada, then 24, waved to her directly.

She has been on the ice since she was 5 years old, and it wasn’t until she was 7 that she began to seriously train at the rink, where coach Mihoko Higuchi, who trained Masama Uno (26, Toyota Motor Corp.), discovered her talent, and she has been improving rapidly. In addition to her ability to jump all five types of triple jumps without any habit, her greatest weapon is her expressive ability, which she says without hesitation, “I like to express myself, so I’m conscious of my skating.

A 13 year old, but still proud to be interviewed after the Junior Grand Prix Final.

In her first year as a junior skater, she has been taking advantage of her slender 158cm height and long arms and legs to perform “New Moon” in the short program and “Pray” in the free skate. In September last year, she competed in two rounds of the Junior Grand Prix (GP) series, and after finishing 2nd in the first round, she won the second round in Poland. In the Junior GP Final (Beijing), where she also decided to compete for the first time in a blink of an eye, she marked personal bests in both SP and FS, and reached the podium. After the competition, she said with a big smile on her face, “I was able to perform my best on this stage.

I don’t really feel like I got the 3rd place, but I was so happy to see the medal. I am happy that I could enjoy skating, and that I could show my charm.

At the All-Japan Championships, where she was recommended by the Japan Skating Federation, she scored 66.22 points in the short skate, close to her best, to place 6th, and in the free skate, she performed in the last group. She was a bit nervous in front of the intense training of not only the world queen, Sakamoto, but also the other competitors who were competing for the World Championships, but Coach Higuchi pushed her, saying, “This is the last All-Japan for a 13-year-old,” and she turned on the switch, “I tried to concentrate on ‘now’ and give it all I had.

At the Junior Grand Prix Final, she placed 3rd

She got momentum with a brilliant Lutz-ToLoop triple jump at the beginning of the competition, and then she won Level 4 in all three spins, including Layback and Flying Sit, the highest difficulty level. As she said, she changed not only her skating but also her facial expressions to match the changes in the tune, and received a standing ovation after her performance.

While she looked mature on the ice, the 13-year-old was waiting for her score at the Kiss and Cry, holding a tissue case decorated with characters from her favorite anime “Crayon Shin-chan”. He says that his idol and daily role model are three great skaters, Yuzuru Hanyu (29), Mao Asada, and Yona Kim (33).

Yuzuru Hanyu’s jumps, spins, and skating are all beautiful and amazing, and Mao Asada’s steps and triple axel (triple-axel jump) are amazing. And I hope I can imitate Kim Yona’s expressiveness.”

The “N” in her name, which was given to her by her parents, is said to mean “show big.” Like 15-year-old Mao Shimada (Kinoshita Academy), she will not be able to compete in the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan-Cortina d’Ampezzo due to age restrictions, but her expectations for the 2030 Winter Olympics will only increase.

I know there are many areas where I am not as good as the top athletes at the All-Japan Championships, so I will continue to train hard so that I can improve those areas even more.

We can’t take our eyes off of her at the World Junior Championships, which begin on February 28 in Taipei, to see what kind of aspect she will show us.

  • Interview and text by Daichi Hadano

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