The 2018 All Japanese national championships take place Dec. 21-24 at Tokyo’s Musashino Forest Sports Plaza.
There are currently 30 men, 30 ladies, three pairs and five ice dance teams scheduled to compete. At stake: Four Continents, Olympic and Worlds berths.
Yuzuru Hanyu has not recovered from the injury he suffered at NHK Trophy while attempting a quad Lutz in practice. His withdrawal was announced on December 9 by Kyodo News. Daisuke Murakami, sidelined by illness during the Grand Prix Series is on the roster.
Sōta Yamamoto, the 2106 Youth Olympic champion, returns to the competitive arena after a 21-month absence. He fractured his right ankle in a practice session on March 12, 2016. This will be his first competition since that accident.
Japan has three berths in the men’s event in PyeongChang. Hanyu and Shoma Uno should be shoe-ins for the first two, but who will claim the third?
In the ladies field, Japan has two Olympic berths and six possible contenders: Satoko Miyahara, Wakaba Higuchi, Kaori Sakamoto, Rika Hongo, Marin Honda and Mai Mihara. At the end of this competition — which will be a down-and-out fight to the finish — two ladies will be celebrating and four will not. Miyahara and Higuchi, the only Japanese ladies to make the Grand Prix Final, placed fifth and sixth, respectively, in Nagoya. Miyahara is the highest-ranked skater heading into nationals and has nerves of steel when it comes to competing, and she is a strong contender for the title in Tokyo.
Kana Muramoto and Chris Reed qualified an Olympic ice dance berth at 2017 Nebelhorn Trophy and are the frontrunners to take that slot.
In pairs, the absence of Sumire Suto and Francis Boudreau-Audet leaves three teams to battle it out.
Japan now has a full complement of skaters in all disciplines and has qualified for the Team Event at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
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