20th to 24th March
Saitama's Figure Skating Perfection
The most populous within the Saitama Prefecture in Japan, the city of Saitama has been the centre of the world's attention since Monday as the host of the ISU World Figure Skating Championships. Already stars of the sport past and present, the nation's greatest skaters have had the added pressure of performing in front of a very expectant home support. They did not have to wait long as home heroes Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara claimed the first gold medal for Japan in the Pairs Free Skating on Thursday. Kaori Sakamoto (JPN) then claimed her second World Title on home ice and the second gold for Japan in the Women's event. Sakamoto also became the first Japanese skater to win back-to-back World titles. There are still two incredible days to look forward to before the closing ceremony.
On Monday Japan reigned again in the Professional Windsurfing Association Spicare Omaezaki Japan World Cup. Motoko Sato and Takara Ishii won the Men's and Women's Wave World Tour titles. Gerwyn Price (WAL) produced a spectacular performance to dispatch Michael van Gerwen (NED) 6-1 on Thursday to claim back-to-back wins in the Professional Darts Corporation Premier League. Skeikampen in Norway is currently the location for the 2023 World Triathlon Winter Championships. Local stars Jorgen Baklid and Julie Meinicke secured the first medals in the winter duathlon.
The week has been dominated by the closing stages of the Ski and Snowboard season. We start with the FIS Speed Skiing World Championships in Vars, France, where a new world record has been set. Simon Billy (FRA) became World Champion and set a new speed of 255.500km/h on Tuesday. Britta Backlund (SWE) took victory in the women's race. Mürren in Switzerland has been hosting the FIS Telemark World Championships. Maria Heggheim Berge (NOR) and Yoann Rostolan (FRA) won Junior Classic Gold, while Senior titles went to Martina Wyss (SUI) and Elie Nabot (FRA). On Wednesday the Sprint Champions were claimed by Amelie Wenger-Reymond (SUI) and Trym Nygaard Loeken (NOR).
The third World Championship still in progress is the FIS Snowboard Alpine Junior World Championships in Bansko, Bulgaria. Tsubaki Miki (JPN) and Tervel Zamfirov (BUL) are the Parallel Giant Slalom champions. We next look at the FIS Moguls Junior Ski World Championships in Chiesa in Valmalenco, Italy. Moguls champions are Shiori Asano (JPN) and Filip Gravenfors (SWE).
Focussing next on World Cup competitions, Tallinn in Estonia hosted the FIS Cross-Country World Cup on Tuesday. Norway's Kristine Stavaas Skistad and Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo became Sprint Final Free Champions. Lahti in Finland is the centre of attention for Nordic experts. Yuki Ito (JPN) claimed the Women's HS130 Ski Jumping World Cup on Friday. Germany I became champions of the Men's Team Sprint Large Hill HS130/2x7.5km in the FIS Nordic Combined World Cup, while Sweden I and Norway I are the champions of the Women's and Men's Team Sprint Free in the FIS Cross-Country World Cup.
Over to road cycling news where the Classic Brugge-De Panne became the next UCI WorldTour race on Wednesday. Japer Philipsen (BEL) claimed victory, while sensational Pfeiffer Georgi (GBR) won the UCI Women's WorldTour race the following day after breaking her back in the same race in 2020. On Friday was the E3 Saxo Classic race, the next UCI WorldTour calendar. Wout van Aert (BEL) claimed the victory.
After a long wait for fans and riders, the FIM MotoGP World Championship is back with Practice on Friday at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal. Jack Miller (AUS) set the early pace smashing the lap record to top the timesheets. The big race is on Sunday. Finally, earlier in the week South Africa set a new cricket record by becoming the fastest any side has chased more than 250 in a men's ODI. They went on the beat West Indies to tie the series 1-all.
Until next time, have a great weekend in sport.