OK: so, perhaps there is a lesson to be learned here about not commenting on the good weather at skate contests. No sooner had the publish button been hit yesterday than the mist descended (actual mist, not the red kind between your ears). Thankfully, we are ensconced inside the Ariake Colosseum with its retractable dome reassuringly… tracted? Closed, let’s say. Yesterday’s open qualifier left a lot of blood on the dancefloor with some big names finding themselves spectating today. The 27 top qualifiers (28 for men since Aurelien Giraud is not here) join the top 5 pre-seeded for a quarter-finals which begins the sequence of 50% daily cuts between now and Sunday’s final.
Ph: Atiba Jefferson
The Women’s quarters were a testament to the consistency of earlier judging because the 4th heat saw the highest standard of skating- barely a trick was missed throughout and it would be possible to go out on a limb here and say that all three of Sunday’s podium places seem likely to come out of those 8 skaters making up the top half of the results you can see here. The broadest observation which could be made in comparison to when we last met in Lausanne is that the consistency across the board has clearly been a focus for everyone involved since then; there are no weaknesses in anyone’s repertoire among those top 8, any of whom have the potential to win outright.
Chloe Covell progresses in first but the overall standard is such that the final standings in Sunday will come down not to superior trick selection but to slip-ups. It really is too close to call from this vantage point, which is exactly how you hope it to be as a fan. Seven of the sixteen women going through to tomorrow’s semi-finals are part of the domestic Japanese skate scene, with a pair each from Brazil, the Netherlands and Spain joining the Australian in pole position to make up the remainder.
Ph: Atiba Jefferson
Today concluded in dramatic style as the Men took their turn to half the field: the ridiculously consistent youngster Ginwoo Onodera opened proceedings with the first of two 70+ runs (the only skater to do so) after which five more of his countrymen would also do enough to make the cut from 32 down to 16 including the top four spots. Surprisingly, the most famous among them, Yuto Horigome, was the lowest-placed among those 6 in ninth place. Also making the cut were the wildly-talented Alex Midler who is perhaps not a contest natural but has enough ability to carry the day when the wind is blowing the right way for him, and South American newcomers Deivid Tuesta (Peru) and Greg Rodriguez (Mexico) both of whom did themselves and their nations proud. The street-skating purist Braden Hoban managed to galvanise his fast, loose style into an impressive 6th place courtesy of his second run which was good for north of 68 points, and Canada is represented twice going forward by both Micky Papa and Cordano Russell. Brazil, perhaps surprisingly, has only a single skater in the semi-finals in the shape of Gabryel Aguilar where he joins the Slovakian perennial fixture Richard Tury and, naturally, Nyjah Huston.
Among those not joining them tomorrow are established names Kelvin Hoefler, Jagger Eaton, Dashawn Jordan and Gustavo Ribeiro. It is a brutal game at this level, be assured. Tomorrow is a new day, and we will bring you the semi-finals from there. Until then.