At the same time the Russian Figure Skating Championships are happening, the All-Japan Figure Skating Championships will be taking place as well - get ready for lots of skating. For Japanese skating fans, the eyes will be on the singles competitions - specifically, the third Olympic spot for the Japanese men and the two spots for the Japanese women. As with Russian Nationals, the biggest name (Yuzuru Hanyu here) has withdrawn while still recovering from injury, but the competition will be exciting nonetheless.
All-Japan Championships schedule
- Thursday, December 21, 2017
- Pairs short: 11:00 p.m. (12/20) PT / 2:00 a.m. ET / 10:00 a.m. Moscow / 4:00 p.m. Tokyo
- Ladies short: 12:00 a.m. PT / 3:00 a.m. ET / 11:00 a.m. Moscow / 5:00 p.m. Tokyo
- Friday, December 22, 2017
- Short dance: 11:00 p.m. (12/21) PT / 2:00 a.m. ET / 10:00 a.m. Moscow / 4:00 p.m. Tokyo
- Men's short: 12:00 a.m. PT / 3:00 a.m. ET / 11:00 a.m. Moscow / 5:00 p.m. Tokyo
- Saturday, December 23, 2017
- Pairs free: 11:00 p.m. (12/22) PT / 2:00 a.m. ET / 10:00 a.m. Moscow / 4:00 p.m. Tokyo
- Ladies free: 12:15 a.m. PT / 3:15 a.m. ET / 11:15 a.m. Moscow / 5:15 p.m. Tokyo
- Sunday, December 24, 2017
- Free dance: 11:00 p.m. (12/23) PT / 2:00 a.m. ET / 10:00 a.m. Moscow / 4:00 p.m. Tokyo
- Men's free: 12:10 a.m. PT / 3:10 a.m. ET / 11:10 a.m. Moscow / 5:10 p.m. Tokyo
All Japan Championships predictions
Unofficial hashtag: #JN2018
MEN Top 10 Predictions
GOLD Shoma Uno
SILVER Keiji Tanaka
BRONZE Daisuke Murakami
4. Ryuju Hino
5. Kazuki Tomono
6. Takahito Mura
7. Mitsuki Sumoto
8. Hiroaki Sato
9. Sena Miyake
10. Sota Yamamoto
With Hanyu out of Nationals for a second year in a row (last year, he was under the weather with the flu), the path is clear for Shoma Uno to capture his second Japanese title. And then the rest? They are up for grabs. And incidentally, that silver medal will do a lot for the chances for the third Olympic spot for whoever gets it.
It's the same cast of characters this year - between Keiji Tanaka, Daisuke Murakami, Takahito Mura, Ryuju Hino, and Kazuki Tomono, one of them gets that silver and goes to the Olympics. All of them have been up and down this season. Murakami is the darkest of the dark horses, because injuries took him out of the international season after Autumn Classic and he only got to skate at domestic events (he did win Sectionals). But if he finds the form that he had way early in the season, he could be the surprise. My bet is on Tanaka, who has had a so-so but fine enough international season that he seems most likely to take silver.
But seriously, behind Uno, it's anyone's game this week.
LADIES Top 10 Predictions
GOLD Wakaba Higuchi
SILVER Satoko Miyahara
BRONZE Mai Mihara
4. Kaori Sakamoto
5. Marin Honda
6. Rika Kihira
7. Yuna Shiraiwa
8. Rika Hongo
9. Yura Matsuda
10. Mako Yamashita
If we rewind back four weeks, my pick for the top two here (and the two spots at the Olympics) would be Wakaba Higuchi and Mai Mihara. But lo and behold, Satoko Miyahara has made a valiant comeback, more quickly than perhaps she was expecting. And it helped her chances a whole lot that she won Skate America and got to the Grand Prix Final as the first alternate.
But I did it at Grand Prix Final (and failed miserably) and I'll do it here again - I've got Higuchi making the breakthrough here. Her skating overall has improved immensely over the past season, and with the exception of her GPF free skate, she's been the most consistent of all the Japanese women this season. But it's Japan Nationals, so you never know how the talent will shake out. You could see at least five of the women here making it into that top two. It will be the most exciting even this week.
GOLD Miu Suzaki/Ryuichi Kihara
SILVER Narumi Takahashi/Ryo Shibata
BRONZE Riku Miura/Shoya Ichihashi
This competition suddenly got interesting after Japan was given a pairs spot at PyeongChang when North Korea missed the deadline with the International Olympic Committee to confirm their spot. The solid favorites for that spot are Suzaki/Kihara here.
GOLD Kana Muramoto/Chris Reed
SILVER Misato Komatsubara/Timothy Koleto
BRONZE Rikako Fukase/Aru Tateno
4. Yuka Orihara/Kanata Mori
5. Mio Iida/Kenta Ishibashi
Muramoto/Reed are looking for their third consecutive national title here this week and will skate away with it. But the team of interest are Komatsubara/Koleto, who were third here last year and are trying to establish themselves as the next generation of ice dance for Japan.