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4 Things we learned from the Japan Open

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This was the third consecutive year that Team Japan has not won the Japan Open, but this time it was by less than a point. With the strength of Javier Fernandez and Evgenia Medvedeva, Team Europe won first place. Team Japan was close to taking the lead, but settled for second place and North America finished in third place.

Mirai Nagasu continues to gain ground

Mirai Nagasu continued to make a case for herself at the Japan Open. She stumbled on the landing of the triple axel, but quickly regained her composure. Nagasu finished in fourth place. 

This is the second time that she has faced off with national champion, Karen Chen, this season. Nagasu managed to overcome Chen at the U.S. International Classic and again at this event. She is looking strong and seems quite determined to get a spot on the Olympic Team. 

Nathan can overcame Shoma but is unable surpass Javier

This was an interesting event for both Nathan Chen and Shoma Uno. We have come to know what to expect from Javier Fernandez, but this is somewhat a new ballgame with Shoma and Nathan. 

Shoma came out with a fantastic performance in Lombardia Trophy, but he started to unravel at the Japan Open. The excitement and anticipation from the fans may have added some additional pressure for him to preform well, but the truth is this is his downfall. Every skater has bad days from time-to-time, but Shoma is somewhat of a black or white skater. Either he is skating brilliantly or he falls apart. What we saw at this event was certainly the latter of the two. This was not the worst performance we have seen from him, but it was certainly not anything like what we saw from him at Lombardia Trophy. Shoma finished in third place. 

Nathan Chen was unable to catch Javier Fernandez, but he did manage to overcome Shoma Uno. This really only goes to show that Nathan can defeat Shoma on a bad day, but what will be exciting is to see them square-off when they are both having a good day. It’s interesting to note that Nathan finished in second place, 11 points behind Javier Fernandez. I would not be surprised if this outcome continued to fuel the competitive fire within Chen.

Mai Mihara could become the game changer

Once again world champion Evgenia Medvedeva came in first place, but this time with not such a large margin over her competitors. Evgenia scored 152.08 in her free skate performance, only 5 points away from Japan’s Mai Mihara. It’s hard to know what the scoring would be like if the event was not held in Japan, but still for Mihara to get so close to Medvedeva reveals that there is a slight chance that she may be the lady to end Evgenia’s winning streak. It will be exciting to see these ladies go head-to-head during the Grand Prix. 

Evgenia diverted from her usual style

Medvedeva has decided to change her free skate. Instead of skating to the program we saw at the Nepela Trophy, she is now skating to Anna Karenina, which was previously an exhibition program. Evgenia also decided to change choreographers for her free skate as well. She was faithful to her previous choreographer who she used for the last two seasons for her free skate programs, but opted to have someone else on her coaching team choreograph this program, Daniil Gleichengauz. 

It was refreshing to see a deviation from her dramatic free skate style to something a little less intense. She is also no longer back-loading her program, which helps to balance her program better as well. It may not rack up as many points, but it has a nicer flow to it. This was a somewhat risky move for Evgenia, but it could pay off nicely for her. 

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