Wakaba Higuchi (Japanese: 樋口新葉, born January 2, 2001) is a Japanese figure skater competing in the ladies' singles discipline. She is the 2018 World silver medalist, a two-time World Junior bronze medalist (2015, 2016), the 2014–15 Junior Grand Prix Final bronze medalist, and a four-time Japan senior national medalist (bronze in 2015, silver in 2016, 2017 and 2019). She also won three medals on the Grand Prix of Figure Skating circuit.

Wakaba Higuchi
Photos – World Championships 2018 – Ladies (Medalists) (3).jpg
Higuchi at the 2018 Worlds
Personal information
Native name樋口 新葉
Country representedJapan Japan
Born (2001-01-02) 2 January 2001 (age 19)
Tokyo, Japan
Home townTokyo, Japan
Height1.52 m (5 ft 0 in)
CoachKoji Okajima
ChoreographerShae-Lynn Bourne
Marina Zueva
Massimo Scali
Former choreographerNoriko Sato
Nanami Abe
Skating clubNihonbashi Jogakan Junior High School FSC
Training locationsTokyo
Began skating2004
World standing7 (2018–19)[1]
6 (2017–18)
22 (2016–17)
30 (2015–16)
65 (2014–15)
Season's bests37 (2018–19) [2]
6 (2017–18)[3]
5 (2016–17)[4]
19 (2015–16)[5]
10 (2014–15)[6]
ISU personal best scores
Combined total181.32
2019 Skate America
Short program71.76
2019 Skate America
Free skate114.78
2018 Skate Canada International

Personal lifeEdit

Wakaba Higuchi was born January 2, 2001 in Tokyo, Japan.[7] She is the youngest of three children — her brother, Daisuke, and sister, Saki, are five and eight years older respectively.[8]

CareerEdit

Early careerEdit

Higuchi began skating at age three.[8] She appeared internationally on the novice level for three seasons beginning in 2011–2012. She won novice titles at the Gardena Spring Trophy, International Challenge Cup, and Asian Trophy.

At thirteen, Higuchi was invited as a guest skater to skate in the gala at the 2014 World Championships in Saitama, Japan.

2014–2015 seasonEdit

In the 2014–2015 season, Higuchi became age-eligible for international junior competitions. Having opened her season at the Asian Trophy, she made her Junior Grand Prix (JGP) debut in Ostrava, Czech Republic, taking silver. With a gold medal at her second JGP event in Dresden, Germany, she qualified for the 2014–15 JGP Final. Higuchi won the Japanese national junior title in November before competing at the JGP Final in Barcelona, Spain. Ranked fifth in the short program and third in the free skate, she finished third overall, behind Evgenia Medvedeva and Serafima Sakhanovich. She then took the bronze medal in her senior national debut at the Japan Championships. In her first appearance at the World Junior Championships, she won the bronze medal after placing third in the short program and second in the free skate.

2015–2016 seasonEdit

At the beginning of the 2015–2016 season, Higuchi suffered from a back injury.[9] Competing in the JGP series, she finished 5th in Linz, Austria before winning silver, behind teammate Marin Honda, in Zagreb, Croatia.

After repeating as the national junior champion, Higuchi edged Mao Asada by 1.6 points for the senior silver medal at the Japan Championships. In March, she competed at the World Junior Championships in Debrecen, Hungary. Ranked fifth in the short program and second in the free skate, she was awarded her second consecutive bronze medal, behind Honda and Maria Sotskova.

2016–2017 seasonEdit

Making her senior international debut, Higuchi won gold at the 2016 CS Lombardia Trophy in Bergamo, Italy. She also competed at the 2016 Japan Open. She placed fifth in the individual event and first as a member of Team Japan in the team event.[10] Higuchi's first Grand Prix event was the 2016 Trophée de France in Paris, France. She placed fifth in the short program, third in the free skate, and third overall. At her second Grand Prix event of the season, the 2016 NHK Trophy, Higuchi placed fifth in the short program, fourth in the free skate, and fourth overall.

At the 2016-17 Japan Championships, Higuchi placed third in the short program and fourth in the free skate, but was still able to earn the silver medal behind Satoko Miyahara. She was assigned to compete at the 2017 Four Continents Championships and the 2017 World Championships. At the Four Continents Championships, she placed tenth in the short program, ninth in the free skate, and ninth overall. She placed ninth in the short program, twelfth in the free skate, and eleventh overall at the World Championships. Higuchi ended her season at the 2017 World Team Trophy. She earned three personal best scores at this competition, finishing fifth in the short program, third in the free skate, and third overall. She won the team event with Team Japan as well.[11]

2017–2018 seasonEdit

Higuchi competed at the 2017 Lombardia Trophy and scored new personal bests for the short program and combined total to win the silver medal.[12][13]

Higuchi won the bronze medal at the 2017 Rostelecom Cup.[14] She won the silver medal at the 2017 Cup of China.[15] Her results qualified her for her first senior Grand Prix Final, held in Nagoya, Japan where she placed 6th overall.[16][17]

At the 2017-18 Japan Figure Skating Championships, Higuchi finished 4th behind Satoko Miyahara, Kaori Sakamoto, and Rika Kihira.[18] Based on her international results throughout the season she was named to the 2018 World Championships team.[19]

 
Higuchi (left) and Kaetlyn Osmond (center) and Satoko Miyahara (right) at the 2018 World Championships podium

At the 2018 World Championships in Milan, Italy, Higuchi placed eighth in the short program and scored 65.89 points after falling on her combination.[20] In the free skating, she performed a clean program, scoring 145.01 points to place 2nd in that segment of the competition. She was the only skater that evening who did not receive a single negative grade of execution mark from the judges.[21] She won the silver medal overall, finishing behind Kaetlyn Osmond and ahead of her compatriot Satoko Miyahara.[22] Her free skating program, set to music from various James Bond films and choreographed by Shae-Lynn Bourne, was voted "the best ladies' free skate of the 2017-18 season" in a poll organized by the skating portal Ice Network.[23]

2018–2019 seasonEdit

Higuchi finished fifth at her first event of the season, the 2018 CS Autumn Classic International. In October, Japanese news media reported that she had injured the instep of her right foot.[24] At her first Grand Prix assignment of the year, the 2018 Skate Canada International, she placed second in the short program, but several errors put her seventh in the free skate, and sixth overall. Higuchi then withdrew from the 2018 Rostelecom Cup, her second Grand Prix assignment for the year.[25] She then proceeded to win Tokyo Regionals.

At the 2018 Japan Championships, she placed fourth in the short program and seventh in the free skate to place fifth overall.[25]

2019–2020 seasonEdit

Beginning the season at the 2019 CS Lombardia Trophy, Higuchi finished in eighth place after numerous errors. Proceeding to the Grand Prix series, her first assignment was the 2019 Skate America. Higuchi placed third in the short program, landing all her jumps cleanly in that segment, after which she described herself as "really happy to skate a clean program after a long time. I think it has been two years since I skated a program at this level."[26] She struggled in the free skate, dropping to sixth place overall.[27] She was sixth as well at the 2019 Internationaux de France.[28]

Higuchi resumed training the triple Axel in the lead-up to the 2019–20 Japanese Championships, planning to attempt one in the free skate.[29] She placed fourth in the short program, narrowly behind third-place Kaori Sakamoto, after stepping out of the second part of her jump combination and receiving a flip edge call.[30] After being unable to land any triple Axels in the practice session prior to the free skate, she elected not to attempt it there, and placed second in the segment behind Rika Kihira, taking the silver medal. Her only error in the segment was stepping out on a triple flip that was also given an edge call.[29][31]

ProgramsEdit

Season Short program Free skating Exhibition
2019–2020
[32]
2018–2019
[7]

James Bond medley:

2017–2018
[38][39]

James Bond medley:

  • Byakuya wo Iku[37]
    (from Byakuyakō)
    by Shin Kono
    choreo. by Nanami Abe

2016–2017
[40][41]
  • Push Me Down
    by Matthias Reis

  • Byakuya wo Iku
    (from Byakuyakō)
    by Shin Kono
    choreo. by Nanami Abe
2015–2016
[42][43][44]

2014–2015
[45]
2013–2014
  • Beloved Czardas
    by Vittorio Monti
    choreo. by Noriko Sato, Nanami Abe
  • Beloved Czardas
    by Vittorio Monti
    choreo. by Noriko Sato, Nanami Abe
2012–2013
  • Don Quixote
    by Ludwig Minkus
    choreo. by Noriko Sato, Nanami Abe

Competitive highlightsEdit

 
Higuchi (right) with Maria Sotskova (left) and Marin Honda (center) at the 2016 World Junior Championships podium

GP: Grand Prix; CS: Challenger Series; JGP: Junior Grand Prix

International[46]
Event 11–12 12–13 13–14 14–15 15–16 16–17 17–18 18–19 19–20
Worlds 11th 2nd TBD
Four Continents 9th TBD
GP Final 6th
GP Cup of China 2nd
GP France 3rd 6th
GP NHK Trophy 4th
GP Rostelecom 3rd WD
GP Skate America 6th
GP Skate Canada 6th
CS Autumn Classic 5th
CS Lombardia 1st 2nd 8th
Challenge Cup 1st 3rd
International: Junior[46]
Junior Worlds 3rd 3rd
JGP Final 3rd
JGP Austria 5th
JGP Croatia 2nd
JGP Czech Rep. 2nd
JGP Germany 1st
Asian Open 1st
International: Advanced novice[46]
Asian Open 2nd 1st
Gardena Trophy 1st
Challenge Cup 1st 1st
National[46][47]
Japan 3rd 2nd 2nd 4th 5th 2nd
Japan Junior 7th 8th 1st 1st
Japan Novice 3rd B 2nd A 1st A
Team events
World Team
Trophy
1st T
3rd P
Japan Open 1st T
5th P
TBD = Assigned; WD = Withdrew
T = Team result; P = Personal result. Medals awarded for team result only.

Detailed resultsEdit

Senior levelEdit

Small medals for short and free programs awarded only at ISU Championships. At team events, medals awarded for team results only. ISU Personal best highlighted in bold.

2019–20 season
Date Event SP FS Total
March 16 – 22, 2020 2020 World Championships


February 4 – 9, 2020 2020 Four Continents Championships


December 18-22, 2019 2019–20 Japan Championships 4
68.10
2
138.51
2
206.61
November 1-3, 2019 2019 Internationaux de France 5
64.78
7
109.34
6
174.12
October 18–20, 2019 2019 Skate America 3
71.76
6
109.56
6
181.32
September 13–15, 2019 2019 CS Lombardia Trophy 9
52.33
8
112.04
8
164.37
2018–19 season
Date Event SP FS Total
21–24 February 2019 2019 Challenge Cup 4
62.70
2
123.54
3
186.24
20–24 December 2018 2018–19 Japan Championships 4
72.63
7
125.00
5
197.63
26–28 October 2018 2018 Skate Canada International 2
66.51
7
114.78
6
181.29
20–22 September 2018 2018 CS Autumn Classic International 4
57.54
5
109.47
5
167.84
2017–18 season
Date Event SP FS Total
19–25 March 2018 2018 World Championships 8
65.89
2
145.01
2
210.90
22–25 February 2018 2018 Challenge Cup 1
69.25
1
134.69
1
203.94
21–24 December 2017 2017–18 Japan Championships 4
68.93
5
138.03
4
206.96
7–10 December 2017 2017–18 Grand Prix Final 5
73.26
6
128.85
6
202.11
3–5 November 2017 2017 Cup of China 2
70.53
2
141.99
2
212.52
20–22 October 2017 2017 Rostelecom Cup 3
69.60
3
137.57
3
207.17
14–17 September 2017 2017 CS Lombardia Trophy 1
74.26
2
143.37
2
217.63
2016–17 season
Date Event SP FS Total
20–23 April 2017 2017 World Team Trophy 5
71.41
3
145.30
1T/3P
216.71
29 March – 2 April 2017 2017 World Championships 9
65.87
12
122.18
11
188.05
15–19 February 2017 2017 Four Continents Championships 10
58.83
9
113.22
9
172.05
22–25 December 2016 2016–17 Japan Championships 3
68.74
4
130.75
2
199.49
25–27 November 2016 2016 NHK Trophy 5
62.58
4
122.81
4
185.39
11–13 November 2016 2016 Trophée de France 5
65.02
3
129.46
3
194.48
1 October 2016 2016 Japan Open - 5
116.99
1T/5P
8–11 September 2016 2016 CS Lombardia Trophy 1
66.66
3
112.20
1
178.86

Junior levelEdit

Small medals for short and free programs awarded only at ISU Championships.

2015–16 season
Date Event Level SP FS Total
14–20 March 2016 2016 World Junior Championships Junior 5
58.08
2
125.65
3
183.73
24–27 December 2015 2015–16 Japan Championships Senior 3
67.48
3
127.87
2
195.35
21–23 November 2015 2015–16 Japan Junior Championships Junior 1
66.83
1
122.40
1
189.23
7–11 October 2015 2015 JGP Croatia Junior 1
60.77
2
114.29
2
175.06
10–13 September 2015 2015 JGP Austria Junior 8
46.55
4
110.24
5
156.79
2014–15 season
Date Event Level SP FS Total
2–8 March 2015 2015 World Junior Championships Junior 3
61.27
2
124.30
3
185.27
26–28 December 2014 2014–15 Japan Championships Senior 3
64.35
3
117.47
3
181.82
11–14 December 2014 2014–15 JGP Final Junior 5
60.37
3
117.72
3
178.09
17–18 November 2014 2014–15 Japan Junior Championships Junior 1
63.98
1
123.97
1
187.95
1–4 October 2014 2014 JGP Germany Junior 1
58.99
1
117.15
1
176.14
3–6 September 2014 2014 JGP Czech Skate Junior 5
52.75
1
116.93
2
169.68
7–10 August 2014 2014 Asian Trophy Junior 2
57.05
1
109.85
1
166.90
2013–14 season
Date Event Level SP FS Total
6–9 March 2014 2014 Challenge Cup Novice 1
40.35
1
90.74
1
131.09
22–24 November 2013 2013–14 Japan Junior Championships Junior 19
42.37
6
100.44
8
142.81
8–11 August 2013 2013 Asian Trophy Novice 3
31.73
1
72.57
1
104.30
2012–13 season
Date Event Level SP FS Total
6–9 March 2013 2013 Challenge Cup Novice 1
41.30
1
75.13
1
116.43
17–18 November 2012 2012–13 Japan Junior Championships Junior 6
51.20
9
91.88
7
143.08
7–12 August 2012 2012 Asian Trophy Novice 1
43.06
2
64.49
2
107.55
2011–12 season
Date Event Level SP FS Total
13–15 April 2012 2012 Gardena Spring Trophy Novice 1
45.56
1
63.51
1
109.07

ReferencesEdit

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  2. ^ "ISU Judging System - Season Bests Total Scores 2018/2019". International Skating Union.
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  5. ^ "Seasons Best Score 2015/2016". International Skating Union.
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External linksEdit

  Media related to Wakaba Higuchi at Wikimedia Commons