Everything you need to know about the world title fight – the programme, the favourites, and the Dutch

Snowboarders can expect great atmosphere at Saitama Super Arena, which also hosted the 2014 World Championships. This is partly because the sport is much more vibrant in Japan than in other countries.

Dear fans in the world

“The Japanese are the best fans in the world,” explains Leonards. “What the South Koreans do in short track, they’re ice skating. They always give an extra atmosphere and cheer everyone up. And all these bears throw it on the ice…always nice.”


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“Besides, Japan of course has very good chances. I understand that they will get three gold medals. That would be a very good result. I wonder how the fans will react to that.”

sporty proportions

The commentator finds it interesting to see mathematical relationships now. “It’s a post-Olympic year. It remains to be seen how everyone will fare a year later.”

“The Russians, of course, are not allowed to participate, not even under a neutral flag. This has a huge effect. As a result, many candidates lost. The chances are different because of this. And it is very interesting to see how the participants can handle this different pressure.”

Favorite men

Among the men, all eyes are on home favorite Sota Yamamoto and defending champion Shoma Uno. “They are very thorough, can jump well and present themselves optimally. They master the most difficult techniques, move perfectly and can interpret music in a correct manner like no other.”

They have a formidable rival in eighteen-year-old American Ilya Malinin. “He is not as perfect as the Japanese, but he is the only one who has mastered the four-axle. When he does it right, he has a good chance of beating the Japanese.”

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Lennard also named crowd favorite dark horse Keegan Messing (Canada), European champions Adam Sayu Hime-Fa (France) and Italians Matteo Rizzo and Daniel Grassell for the places of honour. The main thing to look for is absurdity. “He’s very energetic, and even in his last days, always creating atmosphere.”

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Women’s favorite

Japanese participants are also favorites among women. Advice from Leonards, especially for defending champion Kaori Sakamoto. “Dutch fans saw her in action at the Challenge Cup in Tilburg as she was preparing for the World Cup. She was very good there so she is in great shape. She is my biggest competitor.”

But in the Grand Prix Final, she was only fifth. The victory went to her compatriot Mai Miyahara. In the Challenge Cup she finished second behind Sakamoto. “Japanese women also master the whole picture. They especially excel in their skating skills and glide very quickly.”

“I’m also curious about the American Isabeau Levetto, who is only sixteen years old,” continues Lenards. “She finished second in the Grand Prix Final and became the junior world champion last year.”

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Three Belgian women

Loena Hendrickx from Belgium is another competitor. In 2022 she finished second in the World Cup. Once again a place on the podium is possible.

Because of her silver medal, at least three women from Belgium participate. This is good news for Nina Pinzarrone and Jade Hovine who also got a starting ticket. “Pinzaroni is only sixteen years old and immediately finished fifth in her European Championship debut. The medal is still very high, but she can top ten.”

“Hoven is particularly happy that she can participate. In the Challenge Cup, she took her last chance by getting the minimum technical score.”

European Figure Skating Championships | Watch Nina Pinzarron’s handsome freestyle

Van Zundert goes into the top 12

Lindsay van Zundert on the eve of her third World Cup. After the 17th and 16th-place finishes, Lennards believes, a top 15 should now be possible. “But her goal will be the Top 12 to get NOC*NSF status and thus get more financial support.”

The commentator sees the possibilities. “She skated the Challenge Cup a good fifth. She also determined PR on the freestyle. So her form is good.”

Figure Skating World Championships | Watch Van Zundert’s full freestyle at the World Cup here

Riding favourites

In duo riding, it’s likely to be a two-way battle between Japan’s Reiko Miura and Ryuichi Kihara and American duo Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier. “The Japanese are dynamic, energetic and very fast. The Americans are more personal on the ice. Today’s form will make the difference.”

“It’s completely open to bronze,” Lennards continues. “In the Grand Prix, the Italians Sara Conti and Nicolo Macchi finished third, but it was a big surprise then. The big question is who can do it now.”

Two Dutch couples

In the Netherlands there are at least two couples to begin with. Daria Danilova / Michelle Tsypa and Nika Osipova / Dmitry Epstein are close to each other. He finished ninth last year, thus earning himself an extra starting ticket to this World Cup. However, they lost the European Championship. This is where Osipova and Epstein started. They came eight.

Based on the Challenge Cup, Osipova and Epstein appear to have the best credentials. They came third, against Danilova/Tsepa fifth. “But a place in the top ten would be a huge achievement for both spouses.”

Figure Skating World Championships | Watch the freestyle put Danilova and Tsepa in ninth place in the duet

Ice Dancing Favorites

In Dancing on Ice, defending champions Gabriela Papadakis and Guillaume Sizeron are missing. They have a vacation after the Olympic year. This opens the battle. Based on the Grand Prix Final, winners Piper Gill and Paul Poirier have pretty good credentials. Leonards still had her doubts. “They peak a lot of times at the wrong time and then they don’t show it in tournaments.”

So the commentator also sees opportunities for the American duo Madison Chuck / Evan Bates and Charlene Gignard and Marco Fabbri from Italy last year. “It’s always interesting who makes the biggest moves during the season. In ice dancing, they keep improving their performance based on the feedback they get from the judges. The Italians won the European Championships, while Chuck and Bates were the best of the four – the Continental Championships. Gil and Bowery did not compete in the Championships So there are no reactions. I wonder how they are doing now.”

Dutch duo on ice

Chelsea Verhaegh and Sherem van Geeven represent the Netherlands in Dancing on Ice. “It is particularly great that they are there. They owe this to their progress in recent months and their good performance in the Challenge Cup.”

“They train a lot outside and have accumulated a lot of experience that way. To get into the top 20 so the final will be their goal.”


Wednesday, March 22nd
3 am.: Horse riding – short freestyle
7 am: Opening on the ice
7:50 am: Women – short freestyle

Thursday, March 23rd
3 am.: Horse riding – freestyle freestyle
7:50 am: Men – short freestyle

Friday 24 March
3 am.: Ice Dancing – Rhythm Dance
9:20 am: Women, women – free, free

Saturday 25 March
4:30 am: Ice Dancing – Free Dancing
9:20 am: Men – freestyle

Sunday 26 March
7 am: concert performance

Where are you looking?

You can watch the World Figure Skating Championships live at Eurosport or broadcast ad-free via Discover +.


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