Japan Crowns its National Champions


Seniors Jingu Ice Messengers have qualified for the Helsinki World Championships. / Credits: Roy Ng Photography

22 Japanese teams gathered in Shiga Prefecture to fight for National titles. Read more to discover how the battles unfolded.

The 25th Japan National Synchronized Skating Championship in conjunction with the 2019 Japan Synchronized Skating Open Competition was held over the weekend of 2 - 3 March 2019 at Shiga Prefectural Ice Arena. A total of 22 teams took part in the Juvenile (5 teams), Intermediate (5 teams), Advanced Novice (1 team), Mixed Age (7 teams), Junior (2 teams) and Senior (2 teams) categories.

The 25th Japan National Synchronized Skating Championship

Champion of Junior category, Kansai Synchro Lovers Junior (SP: 32.11; FS: 57.13; total: 89.24) have a solid Free program based on the music “Rewrite the Stars” from The Greatest Showman. Choreography reflected well the romantic plot of the musical film by smartly highlighting individual skaters throughout the skate without being overtly so. The team was divided into two groups wearing respectively red and blue costume. The two colours intertwined nicely and that added another layer of sophistication to the program. As for their short program, it was also well received by the fans in the arena.

The other contestant Shiga Synchro Blue-Topaz (SP: 23.05; FS: 42.70; total: 65.75) began their Free Program with upbeat music of “Don’t Stop Believing” from the TV series Glee. Their wheel was well executed by maintaining regular spacing between the 4 spokes throughout. However, whip intersection was a bit of challenge. No matter what, this young team which formed only in November 2018 proved themselves to be a praiseworthy competitor. We hope to see them stay around and grow further for the seasons to come.

From left to right: Shiga Synchro Blue-Topaz, Kansai Synchro Lovers Junior, Team Aichi and Jingu Ice Messengers Senior during prize ceremony. /Credits: Roy Ng Photography 

In the Senior category, both teams experienced slippery ice in both programs. Jingu Ice Messengers Senior (SP: 51.44; FS: 103.21; total: 154.65) would have maintained the scores from Spring Cup (total: 159.55) if there were no falls in both Short and Free programs. Nevertheless, they secured their National title as well as their qualification to Helsinki World. The announcement that they were qualified for World Championship was especially moving for Jingu skaters.

Team Aichi (SP: 36.36; FS: 69.27; total: 105.63) had much to showcase their hard work for their debut in Senior category. They presented an energetic Short Program based on Adele’s “Rumour Has It” and for Free Skating it was also a rhythmic piece with steady group lifts. The choreography of both programmes was enjoyable but mistakes and falls did not allow the team to demonstrate their full potential. The team scored 69.32 in Junior category last year so their growth so far has been impressive.

All skaters are united for the passion of synchro! /Credits: Roy Ng Photography

The 2019 Japan Synchronized Skating Open Competition

The five Intermediate teams took the ice first on the first day of the competition. Jingu Ice Messengers Intermediate (54.22) landed on the top of the podium based on “West Side Story” music. Move elements were performed well and so was the travelling wheel. This time they improved from 2018 December competition as evident in their skating with stronger confidence and could again show that their choreography reflects the characters of the music well.

Saitama Crystal Ace scored 40.41. When compared with their last competition in Tokyo in December 2018, qualitatively they clearly executed their program more smoothly. (N.B. due to different scoring systems the score this time cannot be compared with the December 2018 competition.) Their circles were especially exciting to watch.

Marginally edged out to the third place was Toyohashi Synchro Amuse (39.70) who skated to an energetic medley of “See Ya” and “Mickey” in sharp purple and pink dress. The nine skaters delivered a clean skate and left a good impression on the audience by maintaining regularly-spaced formations throughout.

In the fourth place was Aqua Ice Peanuts (30.87) which had eight skaters for their “Child in Paradise” program. They had smoothly performed line element and courageously attempted whip intersection in this category.

Yamabiko Starland (29.45) unfortunately had successive falls while skating to the “Paradise Has No Border” music. Otherwise, the program would have been executed nicely in sharp elegant white-blue gradient dresses.

The Novice Kansai Synchro Lovers team skated to "The Greatest Showman". / Credits: Roy Ng Photography

The race of other categories took place on the second day. The team Kansai Synchro Lovers Novice (37.33) was the sole contestant in the Advanced Novice category. They picked “The Other Side” as their music from the film The Greatest Showman. The two male skaters enacted the duel between the two male protagonists of the musical film and the choreography reflected the plot well. They had a clean skate.

Juvenile teams then took the ice. Since August 2018 we witness Jingu Juvenile team’s long march towards the top of National podium with 30.34 points. This time elements of the “Sound of Music” program were executed with marked improvement from previous competitions. For example, triangle intersection was performed more clearly with tighter spacing than what we had seen before. They should rejoice at their progress made this season.

Followed closely was Saitama TiarAce (28.18) whose skaters showed readiness progressing to next categories as demonstrated by their speed and complex choreography. While they had a good expression of emotion throughout the skate, they had a fall in their Circle and some of the elements were not executed exactly smoothly. In any case, their program was also very pleasing to eyes.

In the third place is Shiga Synchro Aquamarine (23.89) who had a clean skate and were able to get their Line called at level 3. This is certainly a good start for this new team with many skaters being new to synchro.

Skaters of Yamabiko Sunrise (19.73) are among the younger ones into their early journey of skating skills mastery. Despite occasional struggles on ice, they showed fortitude in delivering their program based on the Japanese rendition of “Un Poco Loco” music.

Kyoto Synchro Juvenile (12.65) is another team who chose their music from the musical film The Greatest Showman. They picked the soundtrack “A Million Dreams” to fit their black and golden dresses. Despite cascading falls at their line element, they pressed on to complete the program with flair.

Team Brilliance won the Mixed Age division. / Credits: Roy Ng Photography

Same as last year, the Mixed Age group represented an interesting mix of skaters with a wide range of age. Five elements were required in the program. Last year’s champion in Open Junior category Team Brilliance (29.38) defended their title in Mixed Age category this year. Indeed they are more skilled than other teams such as skating one-foot in pivoting block (though not for all the turns).

Shiga Synchro Sapphire (23.88) came second by skating to the classic melodies of ABBA including “Mamma Mia” and “Dancing Queen”. With no major hiccups, they were able to deliver the program smoothly. It was certainly encouraging to see this new team was able to delight spectators with a good impression.

The eight skaters of Oumi Synchro (20.24) dressed as Beauty and the Beast’s Belle in impeccable denim blue one-piece found joy in performing their “Be Our Guest” program. Not being able to get their Creative element called was certainly a setback to the otherwise heart-warming program.

Followed closely was Ibaraki Synchro (19.24) who have a full team of 16 skaters. They were able to call their Line element called at Level 3. Unfortunately, a fall at the Wheel displaced them to the fourth place.

Higashiotsu ISC (16.39), whose campus is not far from the ice arena, skated clean in sharp yellow dresses. When compared with last year, they displayed more confidence this time.

Kyoto Synchro Mixed Age (16.00), with outpouring of enthusiastic support from the arena, showed satisfaction in successfully delivering their programs with no falls. And Fairy Wings (13.83) delivered a clean “Castle in the Sky” program with good expression of the mood of music. They were able to maintain a regularly-shaped three-spoke wheel.

The day ended with all skaters taking the ice holding hands to form a giant swirl after prize ceremony. Spectators always find this moment unforgettable. It is certainly the best way to conclude the competitions. If you miss the event but desperately want to watch a replay, Japanese television TBS will air the competition on 6 April at 9pm local time.