Home Figure Skating News Miura and Kihara ‘achieve’ goal in short program

Miura and Kihara ‘achieve’ goal in short program

by Judith Dombrowski
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Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara of Japan perform their Short Program at the 2023 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships.

2023 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships
Pairs’ Short Program

Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara achieved their goal for the Pairs’ Short after coming in first at the 2023 Four Continents Championships on Friday. The heavy-favorites from Japan claimed the overnight top spot ahead of Canada’s Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps and USA’s Emily Chan and Spencer Akira Howe.

Miura and Kihara have been undefeated this season thus far. The 2022-23 Grand Prix Final Champions showed a solid routine to “You will never walk alone” and “Sweet Home Walk” that included a solid triple twist and throw triple Lutz. The only mistake was Miura’s fall on the side-by-side triple toe, which was underrotated. The team received a level four and positive grades of execution (GOE) on all other elements. Their strong component score of 34.25 separated them from the rest of the field, and their total score was 71.19 total points.

“It wasn’t our best performance, but we were able to achieve the level we wanted,” Kihara stated. “Our goal was to be in the press conference, so we achieved it, and are looking forward to being back tomorrow even stronger.”

Asked about the altitude in Colorado Springs, Kihara admitted that it didn’t affect him too much.

“Actually I was expecting the air to be a lot thinner and my breath to stop, but it wasn’t like that,” he said. “I just have to tell myself that, that I will be fine, and keep my motivation up.”

Kihara also shared that at first, there was no specific meaning to their music. However, after Riku’s injury, it did indeed take on it’s own story and became “more important” in that it expresses how they want to be as pair skaters.

Stellato-Dudek and Deschamps came in second with 68.39 points for their skate to “Oblivion.” The 2022 Grand Prix de France Champions were flawless on the triple twist and the triple toes, but she stepped out of the throw triple loop. Their step sequence received a level three, and the lifts and spins were graded a level four.

“It could have been better,” said Stellato-Dudek. “We hardly ever miss the throw, and I am angry about the spin. That wasn’t well-synchronized today, but when we fix those two things, we should be in the mid-70s. That’s what we are aiming for.”

Stellato-Dudek, who had been suffering from a long-lasting illness, revealed that she was finally feeling healthy. She commented that she has been back to “100 percent of her physical power” for a week now.

“Maxime had to adjust to me again as he wasn’t used to my full power anymore!” the 39-year-old added with a smile.

Chan and Howe are in third place after their program to “Nyah” by CH2. They gained enormous height on their opening twist, which was graded a level three. Unfortunately, Chan put a foot down on the throw triple loop, while Howe fell on the side-by-side toes. The other well-executed elements gained a level four, except for the step sequence, which was a level three. The defending silver medalists scored 66.96, just 0.43 points short of their personal best.

“I missed the takeoff of the toe loop,” Howe commented on his mistake. “It doesn’t happen often, and I will just try to get my head around it for the free skate.”

Chan and Howe had traveled to Colorado Springs, Colo., right after U.S. Nationals so they could get used to the altitude.

“Every time we come out to these competitions, we don’t have a lot of expectation for medals,” Howe summed up. “When we are rewarded with them, it’s a bonus for us. We are out there to better ourselves and give more and more to the audience.”

The U.S. National silver medalists also said they left their injuries behind and that they “took care” of themselves “very well.”

Canada’s Lia Pereira and Trennt Michaud earned a new personal best (65.16) in their debut at this event, placing fourth going into the free skate. The newly-formed team landed were solid in their routine to “Where We Came Alive” by Ruelle, landing all three jumping passes flawlessly. They included a level-three triple twist, triple toes and a throw triple Salchow. The 54th Golden Spin of Zagreb bronze medalists went on to earn a level four on all other elements, except the step sequence, which was graded a level three.

“We are very proud of ourselves,” said Pereira. “We wanted to come out here to show what we worked on. The previous competitions this season brought us a lot of confidence. Despite being new to pairs, having competed on the international level before as a singles skater gave me some experience.”

“Even though we’ve both been competing internationally, me as a pair skater and Lia as a single skater, we’re still learning new things,” Michaud added. “We’re learning to compete with each other. There’s new things to learn about yourself skating with somebody new.”

Pereira stated that she was “done with singles for this season,” and is uncertain if she will continue in that discipline.

“Nationals was a crazy experience for me, because I competed both short programs and both free skates the next day,” she said.

USA’s Valentina Plazas and Maximiliano Fernandez finished in fifth (60.07).

Canada’s Kelly Ann Laurin and Loucas Ethier earned not only a new personal best score (59.12), but also the minimum scores for the World Championships. They are in sixth place going into the free skate tomorrow.

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