For the first time, a Japanese team will compete at the Junior Worlds!


Jingu Ice Messengers Junior skating their Short Program (Credits: Roy Ng - 2020)

The 26th Japan National Synchronized Skating Championship was held on 8 to 9 February 2020 in Hitachinaka city of Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan. Additionally, the 2020 Japan Synchronized Skating Open Competition was also held under same roof.

The 26th Japan National Synchronized Skating Championship
There were two teams in both Junior and Senior categories each competing for the qualifications to represent Japan at Junior World and Senior World Championships.

The Junior champion Jingu Ice Messengers (SP: 38.83; FS: 77.45; total: 116.28) secured their tickets to Nottingham, Great Britain through delivering their jazzy short program “Sing, sing, sing” and free program “Home Alone”. 

The runner-up Saitama Crystal Ace (SP: 31.10; FS: 63.55; total: 94.65) also delivered two nicely choreographed short program of “Festivo” and free program based on the soundtracks of “La La Land”.

Saitama Crystal Ace (Credits: Roy Ng - 2020)

In the Senior category, the two teams were Jingu Ice Messengers (SP: 46.66; FS: 101.62; total: 148.28) that competed just before leaving for the Spring Cup in Italy, and Team Aichi (SP: 33.20; FS: 68.98; total: 102.18). 

Team Aichi delivered their programs entertainingly with, among other things, tight and consistently spaced pivoting block during short program and evenly spaced circle for their Free program. 

On the other hand, Jingu achieved higher technical scores in both of their skates and delivered a clean Free program.  At the end, Jingu not only retained their uninterrupted champion title long held since 2010 but also earned their ticket to Lake Placid World Championship 2020.

Jingu Ice Messengers 2019-20 Free Skating (Credits: Roy Ng - 2020)

2020 Japan Synchronized Skating Open Competition
There were three categories of Juvenile, Intermediate and Open with a total of 12 teams.

In the Juvenile category, Saitama TiarAce (34.60) won with their Kung Fu Fighting program which was full of intricate details. Changes in Wheel configuration were sophisticated and mesmerizing. Also, they showcased the strength of individual skaters while maintaining totality of skating as a team.

Jingu Ice Messengers Juvenile (28.99) also proved themselves to be strong contender. Their intersection was suitably timed and shape of the block was tightly maintained throughout.

Yamabiko SUNRISE (17.04) had markedly younger skaters but they also strived to add sophistication to their Aladdin program through a variety of hold positions.

Saitama TiarAce (Credits: Roy Ng - 2020)

There were four teams in the Intermediate category who were required to execute 7 elements.

Gold medalist Aqua Ice Peanuts (43.32) narrowly edged out the runner-up Toyohashi Synchro Amuse (42.15). While the Toyohashi team executed impressive death spirals and tightly spaced intersection, Aqua Ice Peanuts excelled at having good and steady entry into whip intersection and maintaining tight regular spacing throughout turns of the pivoting blocks.  Yamabiko STARLAND (36.46) and Shiga Synchro Team BLUE-TOPAZ (29.56) had beautifully choreographed programs of “Lion King” and “Hallelujah Faith” respectively.

Intermediate category winner: Aqua Ice Peanuts (Credits: Roy Ng - 2020)

Competitors of the Open category were an interesting mix.

Winner Toyohashi Synchro Open Age team (29.53) demonstrated that diversity among team members could be overcome. They had skaters from Grade 2 as well as housewives. With great height difference between skaters, basketweave hold was clearly challenging. Nevertheless, their choreography facilitated individual skaters to bring out the best in them.  Even younger skaters skated well and were able to skate in synchronization with senior skaters. 

Toyohashi Synchro Open Age team (Credits: Roy Ng - 2020)

Shiga Synchro Sapphire (18.66) achieved higher technical score but still could not unseat Ibaraki Synchro (19.05) from the number 2 position of the podium. Ibaraki Synchro skated with higher speed and power in comparison. Their wheel was also delightful to watch with complex changes of configurations.

Higashiotsu High School ISC team (15.62) delivered an enjoyable program based on Taylor Swift’s “Bad blood” while the all-adult Ageo Synchronized Skating Circle Frozen Grape (13.05) immersed themselves in the competitive atmosphere of the arena skating to “Song of Saitama” which is a reference to their home base prefecture.
At the end of the day, spectators were delighted to hear about Jingu teams being qualified to represent Japan in the 2020 World Championships. Indeed Japan’s participation in Junior World Championships is long overdue. And finally, we will see them skating on Nottingham ice soon!  Let us all welcome them warmly.

Check out Jingu Ice Messengers' video programs in the coming days. Don't miss it by subscribing now to the Jura Synchro Youtube channel.

Thanks to Ms Ayumi Kirihara for her help in translating team names.