Shun Sato’s debut on the Junior Grand Prix circuit was a smashing success.
The 15-year-old Sendai native gave Japan its second straight gold medal in the men’s event in the JGP with a comfortable victory in Lake Placid, New York, on Friday.
Sato’s strong jumping ability was on full display as he racked up a total of 217.12 points on the way to a win over Canada’s Stephen Gogolev (203.70).
Sato’s triumph came a week after his friend and rival Yuma Kagiyama was victorious at the season-opening JGP in France.
Though not as polished a skater as Kagiyama, who is one year older, at this point, the 160-cm Sato showed that his potential may be greater in the long term. Leading after Thursday’s short program, Sato skated to “Romeo and Juliet” in his free skate and landed three quads in his first four jumps.
His spins clearly need some work, but the teen has time on his side.
Sato’s short program to “Arrivee des Camionneurs” impressed ISU announcer Ted Barton, who was seeing the youngster compete for the first time in person.
“What a great technical performance that was,” Barton stated. “Powerful. Covers the ice so easily. Great height. Solid landings, great flow on those landings. Pretty good spin positions. Some work to do in that area.”
Sato held a lead of less than one point over Gogolev going into the free skate, but the level of his technical content in the free skate helped carry him to victory.