Home Figure Skating News Miura and Kihara win historic pairs Gold for Japan

Miura and Kihara win historic pairs Gold for Japan

by Paula Slater
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2022 Skate Canada Pairs

Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara of Japan perform their Free Skate at 2022 Skate Canada in Mississauga, Ont.

2022 Skate Canada – Pairs’ Recap

Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara took historic gold in the Pairs’ event at 2022 Skate Canada, winning the first Grand Prix gold medal for the discipline for Japan. USA’s Emily Chan and Spencer Akira Howe won the silver, while Sara Conti and Niccolo Macii of Italy earned the bronze.

Skating to “Atlas: Year Two,” Miura and Kihara delivered a good triple twist, but struggled on the first jumping pass, the side-by-side triple toe-double toe-double toes. However, that was the only mistake the 2022 World silver medalists made as they rallied back to produce solid triple Salchows, a throw triple Lutz, throw triple loop, and level-four lifts. They scored 138.63 for a first place finish in the free skate and overall (212.02) to win the title.

“We are very happy that we were able to win,” said Kihara. “Riku sustained an injury in the summer and we weren’t able to practice fully as a pair until the middle of September. We were only able to do run throughs one week ago. Today’s performance was actually only our fifth full program with all the elements. We were not really confident that we would be able to perform it [well], but the with all the support we got we were able to achieve that.”

“Even in practice, we did not manage to finish in time with the music,” he added. “That is why we laughed at the end. Winning a medal today was a big step for Japanese pairs. I’ve said this many times and on many occasions, but I’m sure there are many skaters in Japan that are much more talented than I am. I think we were able to show to the next generation of skaters in Japan that if they get into pairs and challenge themselves, they will be able to achieve what we have achieved. I hope there will be a lot of Japanese pairs in skating and that they will follow in our footsteps.”

“I thought that I could never reach a medal when I participated in my first Grands Prix (with previous partner), but then I met Riku and it changed,” Kihara added. “It is true that the field is not as deep as before, but a lot of teams get a chance to do well. It is an added motivation for everyone.”

“In the short and free program we had a lot of levels that we weren’t able achieve, lots of points left on the table,” noted Miura. “That will be a big takeaway for us for the next [event at NHK Trophy]. We will also work hard to finish the free program on time!”

Chan and Howe’s side-by-side triple Salchow-double Axel-double Axels were downgraded and Chan fell on the triple toe in their routine to “Unchained Melody.” Chan also stepped out of the throw triple loop and later doubled the throw Salchow, but all three lifts were graded a level four as was the pair combination spin. The 2022 U.S. International Classic silver medalists earned 119.09 for a third-place finish in the free skate, but with a total score of 186.48, were able to maintain second place overall.

“We feel super happy with the medal!” said Howe in the mixed zone. “We want to especially improve on the throws. We had some setbacks with injuries this summer, so we are happy to be where we are right now and just want to keep progressing. We will see where that leads us.”

Later in the press conference, Howe commented on that they were “super grateful” to be sitting with the other medalists and win their first Grand Prix at Skate Canada.

“In terms of our performance, we had a couple of bobbles and we want to get back home and continue to work,” he said. “I feel like me and Emily have only reached a fraction of our potential. Overall, we got work to do, but we are very grateful to be here right now. For us, our biggest takeaway is that this was another competition to get our feet out on the ice and it was cool to get another big event and we want to carry that steam on to NHK. It’s pretty huge turn around and we want to keep improving on a lot of the elements we know that need work.”

“We had no expectations coming into this competition,” said Howe. “It’s something that I feel like we rarely do. We are so focused on our real mission for skating is to just touch people.”

“One of our biggest goals is to compete in the Olympics just to reach many more people,” said Chan, “so we look at this Grand Prix and other international competitions as a stepping stone for a bigger stage. For me, it felt different to compete in front of an international audience just because the energy is different than skating at U.S. Nationals or within the states, so it was a great first experience to feel that energy.”

Conti and Macii had a tight catch on the triple twist, which was graded a level two and Conti fell on the throw triple loop. The 2022 Lombardia Trophy Champions otherwise showed side-by-side triple Salchow-Euler-double Salchows, triple toes, and a good throw triple Salchow in their program to music from Cinema Paradiso. All three lifts and the pair spin were graded a level four and the team scored a new personal best of 119.52 for second place in the free skate. With a total score of 186.18, they missed the second spot on the podium by 0.30 points for the bronze.

“We are so happy to be here,” said Conti, “but for us, it was not the best free program. We had a problem in the last lift and our first throw.”

“It was a difficult program for us,” Macii agreed. “It was our first Grand Prix and after yesterday we were third. We didn’t expect that and to keep it up was difficult. We were like shaky-shaky, but we did mistakes and we’ll go home and try to fix the problems.  [The medal] is really unexpected. We thought we could fight for the medal, but you never know what happens on the ice. It seems like a dream and we’ll try to enjoy this moment. We are doing a lot of run-throughs and practice, practice, practice! ”

“We want to improve the elements in our free program, “added Conti on going into their next Grand Prix in Great Britain. “We want to improve the twist and the throws.”

Canada’s Brooke McIntosh and Benjamin Mimar, who stood in fourth (60.82) after the short, landed their opening triple toe-double toe jumps, but their side-by-side triple Salchows were downgraded to a double. Two lifts were graded a level four, and while the throw triple flip was clean, she fell on the throw triple loop. Nevertheless, the 2022 World Junior bronze medalists earned a new personal best of 114.67 for their performance to music from Les Miserables, placing fourth overall (175.49).

USA’s Valentina Plazas and Maximiliano Fernandez placed fifth overall (164.14) ahead of Jelizaveta Zukova and Martin Bidar of the Czech Republic (153.50) and Canada’s Kelly Ann Laurin and Loucas Ethier (152.09).

Germany’s Alisa Efimova and Ruben Blommaert withdrew prior to the Free Skate due to injury.

Miura and Kihara will compete next at NHK Trophy alongside Chan/Howe and McIntosh/Mimar. Conti and Macii are schedule to compete at the MK Wilson Trophy in Great Britain in two weeks.

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