by Klaus-Reinhold Kany
(10 December 2022) Four Japanese, one Italian and one American Man reached the Grand Prix Final 2022 in Torino. Shoma Uno, Olympic silver medalist in 2018 and bronze medalist in 2002, won the short program with 99.99 points. Skating to “Gravity” by U.S. singer and songwriter John Mayer, he opened his program with a very good quad flip, followed by a good combination of quad toe loop and double toe loop. He had planned a triple toe loop instead, but explained, “I really had that bad image of that second 3T but hopefully I can work on that during the season and hope I can do it better next time.” His triple Axel was excellent, as well as his three spins. His step sequence was even stellar and had three GOEs of +5. His components had an average of 9.1, with one component of 10.0 for presentation, which might be a bit too high.
He explained, “In today’s performance I made some mistakes but everything I trained for was put on the ice other than the jumps and steps and spins. It just happens that Sota (Yamamoto) and me, we train at the same rink think I trained the most this year with Sota. This year looking at his level - the perfection is there in practice. His jump quality is so high so it’s natural he was able to put the performance and place high. All Japanese skaters are training at top quality and any of us can be at the top podium and I am amazed at the level of the Japanese skaters. I would like to know and observe how will the practice influence the final skating. There are so many things that I took from the short program and so many things I have done during the season and all the things I learned will lead to further growth. I was working with (Miyamoto) Kenji on choreography. At that time, we were talking about skate boots and it won’t become better if I don’t ride the edge.
Uno’s teammate Sota Yamamoto is on second position with 94.86 points. He skated a clean program with an excellent combination of quad toe loop and triple toe loop, a clean quad Salchow and a good triple Axel. His three spins and his step sequence were excellent. He skated to a new arrangement of “Yesterday” by the Beatles and his components were around 8.0. He commented, “Today my Salchow was not perfect, but I am happy I was able to skate without any mistakes and going into the free skating with a confidence boost. Shoma serves us a role model for all those who skate there. There is so much to learn from his practices and skating. It’s great being in the GPF not only with Shoma, but with Kao (Miura) and Shun (Sato) and having all these Japanese skaters competing here. Looking at them in the practice makes me want to do better.”
Kao Miura, also from Japan, is third with 87.07 points. In his combination, the quad Salchow was very good, but he fell on the triple toe loop. He triple Axel and the quad toe loop were very good, spins and step sequence as well. His components were around 8.0. He said, “Going into my quad-triple combo the Salchow was so perfect and felt so great and then I panicked because my first jump was so good. That’s something I need to reflect on. I was giving up on my concentration a bit. There are things that need to be improved. In the second part of the program, I was able to recover with the quad toe loop and land it. It was ok and I think I grew as a skater going into that program. The atmosphere in Italy is very homely and it made me feel good and it was easy to perform but with only that, it felt like it was over before I knew it.”
Daniel Grassl from Italy finished on fourth position with 80.40 points. One week before the Final he had announced that he won’t be training in the USA for a longer period any more after being in Norwood near Boston for three months. He had written, “I missed my family and friends. I really want to thank Aleksey (Letov) and Olga (Ganisheva) for everything they did for me, I loved to train in this amazing ice rink with them and I might come back for a summer camp. I am happy and grateful for this experience. As of now I will return skating in my longtime training center in Egna where the Young Goose Academy welcomed me again with open arms.” For his short program, he had planned two quads for the first time. But when he fell on the quad Lutz he decided to change this plan. He continued with an excellent triple Axel, followed by a combination of triple Lutz (with a small edge warning) and triple toe loop. His unusual body position in the spins were rewarded with GOEs of +3.
He explained, “It was the goal of the season to be here in Turin also as the first Italian man to take part in a Grand Prix Final. I set this goal already at the beginning of the season. I’m happy about how I came here, fighting. I wanted to do a layout of two quadruple jumps but unfortunately after the first fall I chose to play it safe. Of course I feel a little pressure but I always try to think about myself and focus on me. The Milano Olympics will be a big goal for me, I want to start risking more now to be really ready in the Olympic season. It is great here in Turin, the crowd was amazing and it's always great to compete here.”
U.S. skater Ilia Malinin sits fifth with 80.10 points. Like in his second Grand Prix in Finland he suffered from foot problems and was not at his best. He stepped out of the triple toe loop after the quad toe loop. His quad Salchow was landed on one foot, but under-rotated and had little flow after the landing. He stepped out of the triple Axel and touched down, but two of his spins and step sequence were very good. His components were around 7.8. He commented, “I felt better than most of the programs, I was putting a lot more performance and effort into the spins and choreography. Again, the jumps didn't go as planned but I think they were OK overall. My preparation was sort of unusual since I had the last Grand Prix, so it was really hard to actually get ready for this, and I think that we just basically stuck with what we have and just hope for the best. I went back to the United States after Finland because it’s the most beneficial for me and I think that it really makes me feel comfortable when I go home and skate until get prepared to go to other places.”
Shun Sato from Japan ended up sixth with 76.62 points. He went down on the quad Lutz and his combination of quad toe loop and double toe loop was shaky. His triple Axel and other elements were good. He had skated in this same Olympic rink at the Junior Final three years ago.