Home Figure Skating News Japan’s Kihira leads ladies at Four Continents

Japan’s Kihira leads ladies at Four Continents

by Paula Slater
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2020 Four Continents

Ladies’ Short Program

Rika Kihira of Japan took the lead in the Ladies’ Short Program ahead of USA’s Bradie Tennell and South Korea’s Young You at the Wakiki Mokdong Ice Rink on Thursday night.

Defending champion Kihira opened her “Breakfast in Baghdad” with a solid triple Axel and followed up with a strong triple flip-triple toe and triple Lutz. The footwork and spins were all graded a level 4 and all elements received positive grades of execution (GOE), and the Japanese champion scored 81.18 points.

“I’m very happy with my jumps, but they were not a 100 percent yet and I’ll keep working to make them better for the free skating,” shared the 2019-20 Grand Prix finalist. “I still have practice in the next days and I will determine the program content then. For now the quad Salchow is looking good. I’ll keep practicing it and depending on my condition, I’ll determine my final content for the free skating.”

You Young joined Kihira’s coaching team under Mie Hamada, and the Japanese skater feels that she is learning from her.

“She is very consistent,” said Kihira. “Her speed and hard-working attitude for example. I am very grateful to her.”

Tennell showed intensity in her routine to music by Kirill Richter, landing a solid triple Lutz-triple toe, double Axel, and triple flip. The 2019 Skate America silver medalist received a level 3 on her final change combination spin, but was awarded a level 4 on all other elements to finish second with a score of 75.93.

“I’m overall pleased with my performance,” said the 2019-20 Grand Prix finalist. “I think just the minor error on the spin was a silly mistake and I’m disappointed in myself for letting that go, but overall, I am pleased with myself. I have a process that works for me and I want to stick to it what helps me go through each performance and each season.”

You stepped out of her triple Axel and her triple flip received an edge call, but the triple Lutz-triple toe was solid, receiving many positive GOES. Two spins were graded a level 4 and the  2019 Skate Canada bronze medalist placed third with 73.55 points for her routine to music from the Romeo and Juliet soundtrack.

“Except for my triple Axel, the rest of the jumps were good, so I am satisfied with it,” said the three-time and current national champion. “My triple Axel was not working well, so I was very disappointed in myself. But the free program is left, so I will concentrate until the end.”

You also feels she learns from Kihira and that their training together is a great opportunity.

“She has consistent performances and I can learn from her,” said the 15-year-old. “When I have difficulties or a tough time, it is more development for me. I think the coach is helping me to give a better performances.”

Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto showed a strong triple flip-triple toe and double Axel, but turned out the landing of a triple loop. 2018 Four Continents champion showed very good level 4 spins and footwork in her routine to “No Roots” by Alice Merton, placing fourth with 73.07 points.

“I was in a good condition,” said the 19-year-old, “so, I was able to perform well and I’m about 80 percent satisfied. This is because I did one mistake, so it was a bit disappointing. I was really upset that the triple loop was overrotated, so that’s the only thing I regret, so I want to correct it in my free program.”

Teammate Wakaba Higuchi sits in fifth (72.95) after her routine to Sia’s “Bird Set Free.” The 2018 World silver medalist landed a triple Lutz-triple toe and double Axel, but the triple flip received an edge call. All spins and footwork were graded a level 4.

“It was a good performance,” said the three-time and current Japanese silver medalist. “I am quite pleased with my speed, my jumps and my condition, but it still was not as good as in practice in Tokyo. The triple-triple could have been better. But in the last two days. I feel my condition was getting better and I felt that things are coming together. I am satisfied with my score, but I need to keep working for the rest of the competition.”

Since her outing at NHK Trophy this past fall, the 19-year-old feels that her spins and footwork have improved.

Eunsoo Lim of South Korea two-footed the first jump in her triple Lutz-double toe combination, but landed a solid triple flip and double Axel. The 2019 CS Asian Open champion also showed good footwork and level 4 spins to score 68.40 points for sixth place.

“I am very sad that I had to change my triple (toe in the combination) to a double,” said the 2019 national silver medalist. “Besides that, I am satisfied with the other parts of my programs. It was not my best performance, but because I concentrated on small elements, I got a good score and I am happy about it.”

Teammate Yelim Kim received an edge call on her triple Lutz (in combination with a triple toe), but was otherwise clean, producing a double Axel, triple flip, and level 4 spins. The 2019 CS Nebelhorn Trophy silver medalist currently sits in seventh (68.10).

“Because this is my first competition in my home rink, I was a bit nervous,” admitted the 17-year-old. “My warm up didn’t go very well, so as I was waiting for my starting number, I was worried. I kept missing my first jump (in the warm up). A lot of people applauded and gave a lot of support, so I got a lot of energy and was able to concentrate on my performance.”

USA’s Karen Chen and Amber Glenn are in eight (67.28) and ninth (65.39), respectively, followed by Alicia Pineault (57.09) of Canada.

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