The 2018 All Japanese national championships take place in Tokyo, Dec. 20-24 at the Musashino Forest Sports Plaza.
There are currently 30 men, 30 ladies, four pairs and five ice dance teams scheduled to compete. At stake: Four Continents, Olympic and Worlds berths.
Yuzuru Hanyu is scheduled to compete, as is Daisuke Murakami. Both men were sidelined by injury and illness during the Grand Prix Series. Sōta Yamamoto, the 2106 Youth Olympic champion, returns to the competitive arena after a 22 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.
Kanato Murakami and Chris Reed qualified an ice dance berth at 2017 Nebelhorn Trophy and are the frontrunners to take that slot.
In pairs, the team that represented Japan at Nebelhorn — Summer Suto and Francis Boudreau-Audet — failed to earn an automatic place at the Olympic Games, but in late November the International Olympic Committee announced that North Korea, which had qualified a pairs berth, had missed the deadline to confirm its intention to use the placement. The IOC awarded the berth to Japan. Boudreau-Audet does not have Japanese citizenship so even if they win they cannot go and another team will take that allotment.
Japan now has a full complement of skaters in all disciplines.
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