Japanese Figure Skating Newcomers- Chiba Momone & Watanabe Rinka, Eyeing the Milan Olympics! | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Japanese Figure Skating Newcomers- Chiba Momone & Watanabe Rinka, Eyeing the Milan Olympics!

Japanese women's figure skating is now at its highest level in history. Two skaters with different "flexibility" and "strength" finish 1st and 3rd at the Four Continents Championships.

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Young talents shined on the world stage.

At the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships held in Shanghai, China until February 4, Momone Chiba (18, Tohoku High School) and Rinka Watanabe (21, Hosei University/TOKIO Inkarami) of Japan were on the podium, winning first and third places, respectively.

Watanabe is from Chiba, Japan, and started skating when she was 3 years old. After her performance at last year’s GP Series China Cup, a stuffed giant bug, which she says she loves, was thrown into the rink.

Pro skater and commentator Takahito Mura, who has competed in three World Championships, looks back.

Chiba, the winner, skated very gracefully. His performance is characterized by his ability to make the program look like a single work of art. He made some minor mistakes, but he successfully landed all jumps in both short and free skating, and won with 214.98 points, his best score.
Watanabe showed a dynamic and strong performance with speed, and also landed a triple axel in the Free skate. This season, I have seen her struggling with her jump stepping out, but she has recovered beautifully in international competitions.”

Flexibility and power. Their performances at the Four Continents Championships were in stark contrast, but their personalities in everyday life are also very different. Mr. Mura continues, “They used to compete at the Kansai International Airport Ice Arena (KIX).

I used to watch Chiba practice at the Kanku Ice Arena in Osaka. He was quiet and serious. Since his junior days, he had been slowly building up jumps, steps, and other elements one by one. Watanabe, with whom I skated together in last year’s ice show “One Piece on Ice,” has a friendly and cheerful personality. I was impressed that he talked to me as we skated together, saying, ‘I’m having a little trouble with my jumps.'”

Before long, the two are already talking about the future. A reporter from the sports department of a national newspaper said.

Chiba’s eyes lit up when we interviewed him one night later and he said, “The Olympics is becoming my goal. She is the type of skater who places importance on expressiveness, so she will probably polish her skating skills to show her expression and even her fingertips beautifully.
I hear that she will return to Toronto, where she has been training, in February to start this new effort.

There will be at most three slots for the Milano Olympics in two years’ time. Many of her rivals, including world queen Kaori Sakamoto (23), are ranked high in international competitions, so the competition for a spot is fierce.

The difference of 0.1 point in the women’s competition is a big factor in the ranking, because it is difficult to distinguish points based on the difficulty of a technique,” said Sakamoto. The competition is now at an unprecedentedly high level, as the athletes are required to maximize the performance of their tricks while eliminating any under-rotations and other off-turns.

The young duo’s friendly rivalry continues as they prepare for their dream stage.

Chiba began competing at the age of four at Ice Rink Sendai, where Yuzuru Hanyu, 29, was practicing. He is scheduled to compete in the World Championships in March, along with Yona Yoshida (18) and others in the same grade.
The two are pictured together after the awards ceremony. Chiba (left) is 155 cm tall and Watanabe is 153 cm tall, but they showed a magnificent performance on the world stage.

From the February 23, 2024 issue of “FRIDAY

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