2020 NHK Trophy, the fourth and final Grand Prix event of the season, takes place at the Towa Pharmaceutical RACTAB Dome in Kadoma City, Osaka Prefecture, Nov. 27-29 with limited spectator attendance. The competition opens with the ladies short program, followed by the rhythm dance and the men′s short program. No pairs competition will be held this year.
A new champion will be crowned in the men′s event, which has been dominated by just two in the past eight years: Yuzuru Hanyu and Shoma Uno who have four titles each. Hanyu opted to skip the Grand Prix season due to the current health crisis, and Uno, who along with Rika Kihira and Koshira Shimada now trains in Switzerland with Stéphane Lambiel, will also be absent.
Kaori Sakamoto, the 2018 champion who finished sixth last year, had a good start to her modified season by winning both qualifying competitions for the national championships. Fan favourite Mai Mihara is back competing. She finished third at her first qualifying event and second behind Sakamoto at the West Japan Sectionals. Mihara has not competed since the 2018-2019 season due to health issues. South Korea′s Young You, the only non-Japanese skater in the line-up and the only one from her nation to score a Grand Prix assignment this year, will be in the mix for a medal in Osaka.
In an unusual turn of events, the ice dance event will be one of the most anticipated at this predominantly all-Japanese competition, with all eyes focused on Kana Muramoto and Daisuke Takahashi, who will make their international debut in Osaka. Video clips of the duo, who train with Marina Zoueva in Florida, have been impressive. This team shows a lot of promise and has a very good shot at taking the title. They have chosen music from the “Mask” soundtrack for the rhythm dance and from the ballet “La Bayadère” for the free dance.
The reigning ice dance champions, Misato Komatsubara and Tim Koleto, head into these Championships as a fully fledged Japanese team for the first time. Koleto announced on Nov. 19 he has obtained Japanese citizenship.
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