Home Figure Skating News Miura and Kihara take narrow lead in Torino

Miura and Kihara take narrow lead in Torino

by Paula Slater
Iana Saveleva
2022-23 Grand Prix Final Pairs Short Program

Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara of Japan perform their Short Program at the 2022-23 Grand Prix Final in Torino, Italy.

2022-23 Grand Prix Final: Pairs’ Short Program

Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara of Japan took a narrow lead in the Pairs event at the 2022-23 Grand Prix Final on Thursday in Torino, Italy. USA’s Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier are on their heels in second place, followed by Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps of Canada.

Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara (JPN)

Miura and Kihara, who were last to skate, gave a solid and heartfelt routine to “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” The World silver medalists earned high grades of execution (GOE) on all elements to rack up extra points, and also earned the highest program component scores of the field. The team produced a level-three triple twist, side-by-side triple toes, and a throw triple Lutz. Their lift and steps were graded a level four, while the death spiral was a level three. They score 78.08 points for an overnight lead going into the free skate.

“I was very nervous right before the performance, but we were able to do our skating without major mistakes,” noted Miura.

The 2020 Japanese National Champions, two teamed up in Aug 2019, had a rough start to the season when Miura injured her left shoulder while performing at an ice show during the off season. They were not able to return to full training until September.

“What we really love about skating, is just being able to skate,” Kihara reflected. “We always are able to have a great time together, which means we can enjoy the skating. Regarding our partnership, we went through some tough times together and we we’re able to share these feelings. Now, we have come to the point where we can now enjoy every competition and it’s wonderful. I had injuries and lacked the confidence in the skating skills. For seven or eight years, I really couldn’t see the future and I thought I was not going to make it in figure skating. So that for me was the most difficult time.

Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier (USA)

Knierim and Frazier also gave a very good performance, with the only glitch being a touch down with a hand on the landing of the side-by-side triple toes by Frazier. The reigning World Champions otherwise landed a solid throw triple flip and earned a level four on the lift, combination change spin, steps, and death spiral. They sit in second with a new season’s best of 77.65 for second after their routine to “Separate Ways” by Journey.

“We both skated from our hearts and we skated with passion,” said Knierim. We are very proud and happy with how we skated today. We made a big improvement from the Grand Prix in Sheffield and that was our goal. We are relieved with the outcome!”

“I was very proud how we performed,” agreed Frazier. “We tried to add details and tonight it came alive and we are constantly improving, so I am very pleased with that.”

Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps (CAN)

Stellato-Dudek and Deschamps were solid in their routine to “Oblivion” by +Tango. The 2022 Grand Prix de France champions executed a level-three triple twist, side-by-side triple toes and a throw triple loop. The lift, change combination spin and death spiral received a level four from the judging panel and they earned 69.34 points for third place.

“I first want to congratulate the two top pairs,” said Deschamps. “It was a little bit of a fight. Deanna has been sick lately, so we couldn’t train at our best, but we went out there and we had fun and that is the main goal—to have fun.”

“I fell ill a couple of weeks ago, lost weight and muscles,” Stellato-Dudek explained. “I’ve been fighting hard to put that back on. But we worked hard to come here and we are pleased with the fight we put in tonight.”

“I had to come back and get all my jumps back, learn a new discipline and skate with someone else,” the 39-year-old offered when asked about overcoming challenges after a 16-year hiatus. “But I love skating! It just really takes the desire and passion.”

Sara Conti and Niccolo Macii (ITA)

Skating to another version of “Oblivion” by Mina, Conti and Macii of Italy also impressed with a level-three triple twist, throw triple loop and side-by-side triple Salchows in front of a cheering home crowd. The 2022 MK John Wilson silver medalists also earned a level four on the lift, steps and spin to score 67.30 points for fourth place.

Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini (ITA)

Ghilardi and Ambrosini had a rough catch on  an over-rotated triple twist in which she touched down with the other foot, but the team showed solid side-by-side double Axels. The 2022 Grand Prix Espoo champions went on to produce a throw triple Lutz and earned a level four on the lift and footwork to place fifth with 63.54 points.

Emily Chan and Spencer Akira Howe (USA)

Chan and Howe struggled a bit in their debut at this event. Chan doubled her jump on the side-by-side triple toes and the reverse lasso lift was aborted as the entrance was too forward. The triple twist was graded a level four, and while she landed the throw triple loop, the mistakes were costly. Nevertheless, the 2022 Four Continents silver medalists still showed lots of energy in their routine to “Nyah,” and are in sixth place (53.85) going into the free skate tomorrow.

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