Shoma Uno sparkles in Japanese Championships short program
Shoma Uno is 'numero uno' and gliding towards a third consecutive Japan Figure Skating Championships title.
A box-office showdown between reigning Olympic gold medallist Yuzuru Hanyu and silver medallist Uno failed to materialise due to Hanyu's ankle injury sustained at the Rostelecom Cup in Moscow.
Hanyu won four straight Japan national titles from 2013 to 2016.
Now it's Uno's turn to shine and a score of 102.06 for a sparking short program puts him well on track for three-in-a-row in Osaka.
There was a slight scare in the warm-up for Uno as he pulled up holding his left leg.
But as soon as he stepped on the ice for his competitive skate, any fears of lasting damage melted away.
A quad toeloop-double toe loop combination drew gasps from the capacity crowd in Kadoma City, Osaka, as did a quad flip and triple Axel.
In this form, Uno is very much in the top echelon of skaters alongside Hanyu and Nathan Chen and no-one else was going to come close to his 100-plus score.
And a merely solid performance in Monday's free skate should see him complete his hat-trick of national titles.
Takahashi makes hero's return
Before Hanyu and Uno, there was Daisuke Takahashi.
The first Japanese to win a men's singles Olympic medal - bronze at Vancouver 2010 - and the first Asian male world champion (also in 2010) skated impressively in his first Japanese nationals since 2013.
Takahasi quit skating in October 2014 but announced his return to competition in July this year.
The popular 32-year-old may not have quads in his armoury, but showed he can still be competitive.
Five-time champion Takahashi took part in his first national senior championship back in December 2001, before ladies' Grand Prix Final winner Rika Kihira was even born!
And while he just held on to a triple Axel at the start of his routine, he soon found his rhythm with a well-executed triple flip-triple toe combination and a perfect triple Lutz.
His short program of 88.52 moved him into second place behind Uno with six skaters to follow.
And that was where he stayed with podium hopefuls Sota Yamamoto, Keiji Tanaka, and Kasuki Tamono all suffering falls.
While some thought his decision to come out of retirement may tarnish his legacy, Takahashi has proved he's far from a spent force.
Skating meets F1
Japanese skaters are known for their intricate, colourful and stylish outfits.
So Sena Miyake produced a real 'What is he wearing?' moment when he took the ice for his short program in racing driver overalls.
As it turns out, Miyake was named after late Formula 1 great Ayrton Senna and the costume was his tribute to the Brazilian racer.