SAKAMOTO Kaori and KAGIYAMA Yuma shine at figure skating Asian Open 

The Japanese duo took top spot in the women's and men's single skating short programs during the first day of competition at the Asian Open, which doubles as a Beijing 2022 test event

By Sean McAlister

Japanese figure skaters topped both the men's and women's single skating short program, as the first real day of competition began at the Asian Open in Beijing.

First to perform was SAKAMOTO Kaori, who successfully landed all three of her jumps at the Capital Indoor Stadium, scoring an impressive 76.70 to take first place ahead of her compatriot MIHARA Mai who scored 67.83.

The 21-year-old Sakamoto, who won the 2018 Four Continents Championship and the 2020 NHK Trophy, was making her first appearance of the season at the Beijing 2022 test event.

After the result, she said: "I got a taste of the Olympics and enjoyed it. I jumped well in the short skate for the first time in a while so I think it was a good job."

In the men's short programme, there was another Japanese one-two, as 2020 Youth Olympic Games gold medallist KAGIYAMA Yuma scored 97.80 to take top spot, with SATO Shun in second on 90.77. Third place went to People's Republic of China's JIN Boyang, who was awarded a score of 85.02.

Kagiyama, 18, who also won silver at the 2021 World Figure Skating Championships, faced stiff competition from his compatriot and junior world record holder Sato, who at age 17 is another of the brightest talents in the sport. However, Kagiyama put in a stellar performance to claim number one position and with it send a message to his rivals ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

Earlier in the day, People's Republic of China's HAN Cong and SUI Wenjing skated to music from the movie Mission Impossible as they topped the pair skating short program with a score of 79.27.

Sui was effusive in her praise of the facilities at the Capital Indoor Stadium, saying: "I think The Capital Indoor Stadium is the best Skating Venue in the world. We feel very excited every time we come here, because this is the venue where we will fight during the Winter Games."

The Asian Open continues tomorrow (15 October) with free dance and free skating.