Japan’s Mai Mihara, right, came out on top as world champion Kaori Sakamoto, left, had to settle for silver at Lake Placid 2023 ©ITG

Japan’s Mai Mihara stunned reigning world figure skating champion and double Olympic medallist Kaori Sakamoto to defend her women’s singles title at the International University Sports Federation Winter World University Games here.

Sakamoto was the clear favourite for gold and was leading after the short programme, but she buckled under the pressure from Mihara at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid.

Miharam, a two-time Four Continents winner, produced a sublime free skate to notch 141.48 points, increasing her overall score to 221.18.

Sakamoto needed 142.79 to be crowned champion but she failed to produce her best, suffering two big falls in an uncharacteristic error-strewn display.

A score of 139.02 saw Sakamoto finish on 217.42 as Mihara retained the title that she won four years ago.

The bronze medal went to South Korean Kim Ye-lim who clinched her place in the top three with a score of 200.16.

Miharam’s surprise victory came a few hours after compatriot Sōta Yamamoto pulled off a scintillating showing to secure the men’s singles title.

Yamamoto followed up his stunning short programme on Friday (January 13) with a mesmerising free skate that him finish on 274.86 as he clinched a well-deserved victory.

It was a Japanese one-two as Tatsuya Tsuboi sealed silver with 243.82, while Nikolay Memola of Italy bagged bronze with 231.33.

Sōta Yamamoto captured the men's singles crown as Japan finished the day with five golds ©FISU
Sōta Yamamoto captured the men's singles crown as Japan finished the day with five golds ©FISU

The victories for Yamamoto and Mihara capped a golden day for Japan who won five of the eight titles on offer.

The Kasai twins were once again finishing atop the Nordic combined medal podium.

This time it was Yuna that finished first in the women’s individual mass start after falling short against her sister in the women’s individual Gunderson on Saturday (January 14).

Haruka came first in the cross-country run, but Yuna overhauled her in the ski jumping round with a formidable jump that saw her amass a huge score of 122.2.

On this occasion, Haruka had to settle for silver with 113.6, while Poland's Joanna Kil denied a Japanese podium sweep, finishing on 87.9 for bronze as Japan's Sana Azegami was 0.2 short.

There was also a gold for Japan in the men’s individual mass start as Sakutaro Kobayashi emerged victorious.

Kobayashi overcame an 18.4 point penalty picked up in the cross-country segment by setting a monstrous score of 143.0 which resulted in 124.6 overall.

It ensured that he beat American Niklas Malacinski who amassed 119.2 despite winning earlier in the day.

The bronze went to Malacinski's compatriot Evan Nichols, with the 19-year-old posting a total of 105.7.

Kim Min-sun of South Korea won the women's 1000m final in a track record time in Lake Placid ©FISU
Kim Min-sun of South Korea won the women's 1000m final in a track record time in Lake Placid ©FISU

Speed skater Kayuza Yamada secured Japan’s first gold of a memorable day as he stormed to the men’s 1000 metres title at the Speed Skating Oval.

The track record was broken four times, with Yamada set the mark of 1min 12.38sec.

Taiyo Nonomura of Japan came second in 1:12.50 as Canadian David la Rue claimed bronze in 1:12.50.

Yamada’s success sent Japan on their way as they improved their tally to eight gold medals overall to move clear at the top of the standings.

Kim Min-sun of South Korea snatched gold away from Poland’s Iga Wojtasik's in the women’s 1000m final.

Wojtasik set the track record with 1:21.78 only for it to be broken by Min-sun who crossed the finish line in 1:20.46.

Min-sun was joined on the podium by compatriot Park Chae-eun who clocked 1:21.85 for bronze.

There was joy for Finland at Mount van Hoevenberg as Verneri Poikonen claims men's sprint free gold.

The Finnish cross-country skier finished the 1.5-kilometre course in 2:34.74 to take the title.

Spain's Jaume Pueyo sealed silver in 2:35.27 as France's Tom Mancini clocked 2:35.93 for bronze.

Mariel Pulles of Estonia won women's sprint free gold in a time of 2:54.57.

Finland's Tiia Olkkonen took silver in 2:55.20, while Germany's Anna-Maria Dietze claimed bronze in 2:55.50.