Suzuki, Hanyu lead Japan’s Olympic team

Akiko Suzuki wins Japan nationals

She finally did it! Only these words come to mind after the news of Akiko Suzuki’s victory at the 2013 Japan figure skating championships.

Suzuki claimed her first national gold with an overall score of 215.18 points. Kanako Murakami took the silver with 202.52 points.

The main surprise of the event was the third place of Mao Asada, a two-time World and six-time national champion, who was in the lead after the first day of competition and who is considered as one of the main contenders for the gold at coming Sochi Olympics. 2010 Vancouver silver medalist earned 199.50 points overall.

For the new country’s champion Akiko Suzuki it was a jubilee 10th consecutive national championships. So it was a very long way to go for this not only technical but very elegant and artistic lady.

She began this way in 2003/2004 season, in which she finished at 12th place. In subsequent years her results gradually grew up – she was 10th in 2006 season, 5th in 2007, 4th in 2008, 2010 and 2012,  2nd in 2009 and 2011 years. Finally, this season was her turn to triumph – she deservedly won the first national gold medal.

A very remarkable fact is that Akiko won this championship in her last competitive season. Thus, this victory has a very special value for this Japan’s skater.

In men’s competitions, 2013 Grand Prix Final champion Yuzuru Hanyu recovered from an early tumble to win the men’s title at the Japanese national figure skating championships, booking a spot at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

With a 9.88-point lead after the short program, Hanyu fell on his opening quadruple Salchow but nailed his next element, a quadruple toe loop, as he skated to “Romeo and Juliet” by Nino Rota in Saitama on Sunday.

The 19-year-old earned 194.70 points in the free program for a total of 297.80, better than three-time world champion Patrick Chan’s world record of 295.27 set last month at the Trophee Eric Bompard in Paris.

But Hanyu’s new mark will not be recognized by the International Skating Union as the national event is not sanctioned by the world body.

Hanyu beat Canadian Chan into second spot at the Grand Prix Final this month in the Japanese city of Fukuoka with a world record short program score of 99.84 but on Saturday the university student bettered that with a whopping 103.10.

Tatsuki Machida, with two Grand Prix wins under his belt this season, finished second overall with 277.04 points and Takahiko Kozuka got the bronze with 264.81.

Daisuke Takahashi, 27, who won 2010 Olympic bronze medal, finished fifth.

Akiko Suzuki, Mao Asada and Kanako Murakami have been selected for the ladies’ team at the upcoming Sochi Olympics, while Yuzuru Hanyu, Tatsuki Machida and Daisuke Takahashi have been chosen for the men’s team, the Japan Skating Federation announced this night.

Photo: log-channel

Extracts from AFP news report was used in men’s part of this story.

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