JAPAN'S MEDAL COUNT
Modified on February 27, 2006
Shizuka Arakawa rode high on shoulders of the national team members showing off her gold medal as she entered the Olympic Stadium. The speedskaters and slalom skiers were there to enjoy the jubilee. For Japan, it was the most disappointing Winter Olympics since the 1988 Calgary Games where the country won only a medal.
In men's slalom event, 3 Japanese competed. In the first race, Kentaro Inagawa was 3rd. And hopes back home were high on a 2nd medal this Olympic Games. But in the 2nd race, Inagawa was not fast enough and finished 4th. Another Japanese, Naoki Yuasa was 7th. In anycase, it was for the first time in 50 years Japan placed within 8th in the Winter Games. In men's shorttrack 500 meter race, Satoru Terao finished 6th.
Figure skating exhibition of medalists and top winners were held. From Japan, Fumie Suguri and Shizuka Arakawa of course took part and mesmerized the audience.
Japan was in excitement. Shizuka Arakawa danced on the ice with elegance in the free skate event in women's figure skating. Although she did not do a triple-triple as originally planned,her jumps, her trademark "Ina Bauer" was beautiful. She received the highest points in her career and surged to first place. Sasha Cohen who fell on her jumps was 2nd, and Irina Sluskaya who also fell on one of her jobs was 3rd. Fumie Suguri performed flawlessly but she didn't show any exceptional spins and was 4th. Miki Ando missed her quadruple attempt and ended 15th.
Here are the results from some of the short track events. In the women's 3000 meter relay, one tripped and the Japanese team finished 7th. Nagano gold medalist in the men's 500 meter, Takafumi Nishitani was out in the qualifying round.
One of the most closely watched Olympic events in Japan is women's figureskating. Three Japanese took part in the first of the 2-part competition. In the short program,Japanese idol skater Miki Ando touched the ice after a jump series. She also touched the wall during a spiral routine, and finished 8th. Fumie Suguri was 4th and 2004 World Champion Shizuka Arakawa was 3rd. It was learned, despite the fact that Ando skated at around 5 am and Suguri and Arakawa around 6 am Japan time, TV rating reached a high of 23 percent in Tokyo.
The curling team lost to Switzerland 5 to 11, unabling Japan to proceed to the next stage. In men's ski jump team event, in the first jump, Japan placed 6th. In the 2nd jump, Noriaki Kasai and Takanobu Okabe recorded 130 meters, but they were not enough to improve Japan's standing. Japan finished 6th.
A feat for Japanese women in curling. The team beat last Olympic winner the U.K. in the preliminaries. This was Japan's 3rd win against 4 losses. Japan must win the remaining 2 more games to advance. In the woman's 1000 meter speedskating, Tomomi Okazaki finished 16th. The best among Japanese women was Sayuri Yoshii at 15th place.
In men's large hill ski jumping, veteran skier Takanobu Okabe was 8th. Noriaki Kasai was 10th. Yuka Kamino, treated as Japan's new sports idol was 7th in women's short track 1500 meters.
In snowboard cross women's competition, first time Olympican Yuka Fujimori qualified. She needed to be better than 16th place,and she was 15th in the qualification race. She advanced to the semi-finals and finished 7th. It's a feat. Japan's oldest Olympian, 41-year old Kazuhiro Koshi took part in skeleton. He however finished a disappointing 11th.
In the nordic ski combined postponed to the next day, Japan finished in the end 6th although it was 5th in the ski jumps. In the new speedskating event called pursuit, Japan's women team had a lucky win and proceeded to competing for 3rd place. But since Hiromi Otsu fell during the race, Japan could not complete the race and so took 4th place. In men's figure skating, Japan's elegant skater Daisuke Takahashi attempted a quad, but failed. He also lost balanced during his highly acclaimed steps, and unfortunately, finished the Olympics placing 8th.
Nordic ski combined team event was interupted. After the first jump, the 2nd jumps were cancelled due to strong wind.
In the women's 500 meter speedskating, Japan's delegation captain Tomomi Okazaki was 3rd in the first race. But as a result of the 2nd race, she fell to 4th place.
The women snowboarders were expected to do well. One of the best, Mero Imai fell after her first acrobatic routine, and was unable to show her stuff. Other 3 women advanced to the finals, but the best performing was Shiho Nakashima who finished only 9th. One of Japan's best winter sports is speedskating short distance for men. It's a competition where Japan had clinched medals in 6 consecutive Winter Olympics. Hope was high on Joji Kato, the current world record holder, but he finished 6th. Yuya Oikawa who was not very known by the Japanese public did better. He won 4th place.
One of the competitions where Japan was expecting medals, in men's snowboard halfpipe, none of the 4 competitors were able to advance to the finals. That's including the internationally established Domu Narita and Kazuhiro Kokubo. But really, Shaun White of the U.S. was incredible.
In women's freestyle skii mogul, 3 advanced to the finals. Nagano gold medalist Tae Satoya lost balance when she landed from a forward flip, and that was reflected in her score. She finished 15th. Another medal hope, Aiko Uemura performed a successful corkscrew, but she seemed to have lacked speed. She finished 5th.
In men's nordic ski normal hill, preliminaries, Nagano team gold medalist Masahiko Harada flew like a bird. But he was suddenly disqualified. It's because he weighed 200 grams less to be able to fly on skis 253 cms long.
Japan was the 32nd country to march into the Olympic stadium. The flag bearer was 500 meter speedskating record holder Joji Kato. Veteran speedskater Tomomi Okazaki was there in all smiles despite having caught a cold. Another famouse Japanese was in the spotlight. Yoko Ono, the wife of John Lennon sang "Imagine".
Japan's delegation is 238, including 112 athletes--the largest ever at the Winter Games. It was supposed to be more, until a speed skater was suddenly disqualified due to too many participants. And then the bobsled team was suddenly disqualified, but on Feb 1 was given the green light to compete. The captain of the Japanese delegation is speedskater Tomomi Okazaki.
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