Shoma Uno to Showcase New Program in Japan in His Bid for a Grand Prix Finals Spot

AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File
Shoma Uno, of Japan, competes in the men’s free skate program during the figure skating event at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Feb. 10, 2022, in Beijing.

TOKYO (AP) — Two-time World champion Shoma Uno will showcase his new programs at the NHK Trophy as he bids for a spot in figure skating’s Grand Prix Final.

Now coached by Stephane Lambiel, himself a former two-time world champion, Uno has unveiled two new programs this season which will be on display in Osaka.

I’m aiming to demonstrate through the new programs that ice skating is much more than just executing jumps, Uno told Japanese broadcaster NHK. “I’ve been trying to pay a lot more attention to spins and other details.”

Uno, runner-up at the Cup of China earlier this month, will start as the favorite at his home Grand Prix, the sixth in the International Skating Union’s series, which he has won the previous two years.

A third consecutive title here would qualify him for the Dec. 7-10 Grand Prix Final in Beijing, where the top six skaters from each discipline compete.

Adam Siao Him Fa of France, Ilia Malinin of the United States and Kao Miura of Japan have already qualified for Beijing.

Malinin landed four quads to win the season-opening Skate America and then finished second to Siao Him Fa at the Grand Prix de France to secure his spot at the GP Final.

Also taking part in Osaka with a chance to qualify for Beijing is 2022 Olympic silver medalist Yuma Kagiyama of Japan.

Kagiyama, who missed most of last season with injuries, would likely need to finish first or second to secure a place in the Final.

World silver medalist Lee Hae-in of South Korea headlines the women’s field. She placed fourth at the Grand Prix de France and needs to win in Osaka to be sure of a berth in the final.

Competition should come from Nina Pinzarrone of Belgium who took silver in France, European champion Anastassia Gubanova of Georgia and Wakaba Higuchi of Japan.

Two-time world champion Kaori Sakamoto of Japan, Isabeau Levito of the United States and Loena Hendrickx of Belgium have already qualified for Beijing.

The 16-year-old Levito was runner-up at Skate America and then won in France.

Russia’s female skaters, who have traditionally dominated world competition, are not taking part because of an ISU ban over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In 2021, the last time Russian skaters were eligible to compete in the Grand Prix series, they had five of the six top qualifiers before the GP Final was cancelled in Beijing due to COVID.

In pairs, four teams competing in Osaka have a chance to secure a place in Beijing.

Among those are Minerva Fabienne Hase and Nikita Volodin of Germany who won the Grand Prix Espoo last week, and European silver medalists Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini of Italy.

Americans Chelsea Liu and Balazs Nagy have an outside shot at qualifying for the Final. They took bronze at Skate America and need to outscore one team that is ranked ahead of them this season.

In ice dance, world silver medalists Charlene Guinard and Marco Fabbri of Italy and European silver medalists Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson of Britain are in Osaka aiming to secure the last two Grand Prix Final spots.