Kaori Sakamoto Claims Bronze With an Empowering Free Skate

Getty / Matthew Stockman

Japanese skater Kaori Sakamoto delivered an empowering women’s free skate performance at the Winter Olympics on Feb. 17 that earned her a bronze medal. Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova of Team ROC claimed gold and silver, respectively. At the time of Sakamoto’s skate it was it was expected that Team ROC would sweep the podium with skaters Shcherbakova, Trusova, and Kamila Valieva. However, Sakamoto came to the ice prepared to give it her all.

Benoit Richaud, the choreographer of Sakamoto’s skate, “wanted to create something that celebrated the power of women,” Tara Lipinski, commentator and former Olympian, says during the skate. “At first, [Richaud] said, that [Sakamoto] was afraid. She thought that she didn’t have a strong enough personality for it. But, she’s embraced it and it’s made her stronger,” Lipinski explains. Richaud’s vision was clear as “I love being a woman” were the first words heard at the top of Sakamoto’s skate.

The lyrics from “No More Fight Left in Me” by Imany, “I am your daughter, your wife and a mother, I am no quitter, I am a fighter,” echoed throughout the Capital Indoor Stadium as Sakamoto began gliding across the ice. “She skates with a wonderful reckless abandon and beautiful technical skills,” commentator and former Olympian, Johnny Weir, says during the skate. Around the halfway point, Sakamoto cleanly executes a triple flip jump into a triple toe loop jump, which left the commentators nearly breathless. All they could say was “Gorgeous!” and “Stunning!”

Closing her emotional performance, in the center of the ice, Sakamoto put her foot over her head for a Biellmann spin. She then seamlessly exited the spin, coming down into a kneeling position, on cue, with the words “I am. A woman.” Keep scrolling to view moments from her powerful skate that had Weir say “Bravo.”

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