By Hiromu Namiki / Japan News Staff WriterGANGNEUNG — Fans expressed joy as Japan started strong in the figure skating team event at the Pyeongchang Olympics on Friday, placing third after two programs at Gangneung Ice Arena.
Shoma Uno finished first in the men’s short program at 103.25 points, becoming the only skater to exceed 100. Pair Ryuichi Kihara and Miu Suzaki were eighth in their short program, but set a new personal best with 57.42.
“I assume pressure was on Uno as he was the first Japanese to skate, but his performance was great,” said Mami Ohashi, of Tokyo. “He was shining.”
Ohashi is in South Korea as a volunteer interpreter for the Games. She was visiting the ice arena on a day off with her colleagues. “I hope his performance will give momentum to other Japanese skaters,” added Ohashi, 22.
Dressed in an elegant purple outfit, Uno received cheers as he gave a strong performance. Akari Hoshi, also from Tokyo, was impressed with Uno’s artistic expression. “He looked big. I sensed his masculinity,” Hoshi, 40, said.
Mizuho Yoshizawa, 21, a volunteer from Chiba, praised the steady performance of Kihara and Suzaki. “They were composed. Their program had a high degree of perfection,” Yoshizawa said.
Many Japanese fans were at the site to support the three skaters. Tour conductor Kana Ukita was attending with a group of 30 tourists from Japan — most of them women in their 50s — on a trip to watch the figure skating team event. “I’m happy,” the 27-year-old said. “There will be a festive mood on the return bus.”Speech