Which of the skaters and figure skaters competing in junior singles skating is capable of taking a place on the international Olympus in the near future?
The Land of the Rising Sun is the main contender for leadership in international figure skating in the absence of Russians at major tournaments. Japan has a lot of rising stars who are clearly looking at big honors in the coming years.
18-year-old Mana Kawabe is getting closer and closer to the world figure skating leaders. Her path at the junior level was not ringing with medals - Mana won them only in national tournaments. However, she surprised last season by taking three bronze medals at the Grand Prix. Kawabe needs to perfect difficult elements, and then she will be able to claim top honors as well
Another promising Japanese singles player is Mao Shimada. She will be only 14 years old on October 30, but she is already being talked about as a future star. Already at the age of 12 she performed a quadruple tulup, and in March 2023 she became world champion with a lead of more than 20 points over her rivals.
Figure skating stars are not only appearing in Japan. One of them is Jong-Gyeol Hwang from South Korea. The 12-year-old representative of the Land of Morning Fresh at the recent Osaka Junior Grand Prix not only delighted with epic music by Vangelis in the short program, but also with quite a decent skating and fifth place. Her compatriots Yoo Sung Kim and Yoo Jae Kim are also competing and claiming elements of increased difficulty - an indication of ambition. Bronze in Osaka in September went to Yu Feng Tsai from Taiwan, who skated her free skating program to the music from "Schindler's List".
And what about women's singles outside Asia? Everything is quite sad there. Only 15-year-old American Mia Kalin is trying to compete with the Japanese. But she is still a very raw skater, both in terms of choreography and technique. Sometimes it seems that Kalin just can't keep in her head everything she needs to do on the ice, and as a result, despite a more complex application, she loses to the more flawless Asians.
Less is more.
Junior men's singles skating is more geographically motley. Still, the main star represents Japan.
Koa Miura, 18, had a strong season last year, winning the World Junior Championships - despite not even finishing in the top 10 just a year ago.
The Japanese showed himself last season at the adult level: Miura has a gold medal at the Four Continents Championship and two silvers at the Grand Prix Skate America and Skate Canada stages.
Among those who have not yet established themselves in adult skating, we should pay attention to those who regularly include in the program and perform difficult jumps: they are Japanese Rio Nakata and South Koreans Kim Hyun-Geum and Seo Min-Gyu. Especially worth highlighting is Seo, who at the age of 14 demonstrates quite clean skating, doing without risky difficulties or doing them at a minimum. By the way, he is already a bronze medalist of the South Korean adult championship.
At the same time, experts are increasingly sounding the alarm: the general level of skating among juniors is falling - it's as if they are afraid to use ultra-si elements, and among those who dare to do so, the error rate is high. Will this lead men's singles skating to degradation in the coming years? There is no answer to the question yet.