The 2018 edition of the Japan Open will begin on Friday, April 28 and should be another exciting competition. This third leg of the FINA World Series looks to be more heavily attended than the China Open last weekend, and fans are in for some treats with nearly 20 nations in attendance.
The most exciting nations to watch for here will be Japan and Spain as they will finally give us a peak of some of their new team routines.
Japan only came to Paris to compete in the solo and duet events, and decided to not travel its full team this year. This weekend, the Japanese are entered in every event except the highlight and should unveil new technical and free team routines. They are the heavy favorites to sweep the competition in most events in the absence of Russia, China and their direct competitors Ukraine.
Spain has been training in Yamaguchi, Japan, for these last few days already, and is getting ready to show off its new technical team routine for the first time this year. The Spanish only competed in the free combination in Paris with an old routine, so it will be thrilling to see what new head coach Mayuko Fujiki has put together here for the technical event.
The country is also entered in both mixed duets events, as well as in the technical duet where we will see Paula Ramirez and Sara Saldaña, who was the alternate last season, swim together for the first time. The new technical routine promises to be upbeat and dynamic, as it starts off with the song “Superbad” from James Brown. Of note, Ona Carbonell is not in Japan and is about to star on the TV show “Master Chef.”
Another nation that should challenge for the podium in the team events is France. The French will compete in everything but the free combination and mixed duets. They presented their new technical routine to the theme of “Cleopatra” already at the French Open in March and will look to improve on execution and scores, and do so despite the lack of direct competition from Greece and Belarus.
Just like in Paris, the duets of the Tremble twins, and of Maureen Jenkins and Eve Planeix will compete against each other for the Olympic spot, and we will hopefully start to see one duet demarcate itself from the other. Last month, Charlotte and Laura Tremble had the edge in technical duet, while Jenkins and Planeix were more dominant in the free duet event.
As expected at this early stage in the season and while the team events are depleted, the duet fields are packed. The pairs of Australia, Germany, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Singapore, South Korea, Spain and Vietnam will make their season debuts, while the duets of Belarus, France, Greece, Italy, Japan, and the Netherland will be back out on the international stage for the first time since the French Open. The remaining pairs from Austria, Malaysia, Uzbekistan and the U.S. are fresh off competing at the China Open last weekend.
In Beijing, the U.S. unveiled its new duet of 2016 Olympian Anita Alvarez and Ruby Remati. Remati, only 16 years old, held her own for her first major senior international competition, as she and Alvarez bronze in both technical and free duet events. It will however be interesting to see how this young pair measures up against such a deep duet field.
The mixed duet events will see Italy (Flamini/Minisini), Japan (Abe/Adachi) and Spain (Ferreras/Ribes) compete against one another.
You can find all the information, most importantly the schedule and how to watch, here.