Rika Kihira of Japan prevailed in what was a tough competition in the Ladies’ Free Skating at the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Seoul (KOR) on Saturday to defend her title.
Gold medalist Rika Kihira (JPN) 2020 © International Skating Union (ISU)
Kihira opened her routine titled “International Angel of Peace” with a triple Salchow but then singled her planned first triple Axel. Unfazed, the Japanese Champion went on to hit a triple Axel-double toeloop combination as well as six triple jumps and level-four spins and footwork.
The 17-year-old scored 151.16 points, close to her season’s best, and racked up 232.34 points overall to seal victory.
“My goal was to get the first place twice in a row in this Four Continents Championship,” Kihira said.
“So, I became a little bit impatient because of my first mistake in the Axel. But I was able to re-calculate and re-assemble the structure of my performance.
“I tried to switch my mind and focus on the next element right away after I did my first mistake. It was good experience for me to prepare for the next competition.”
Young You (KOR), who took silver | 2020 © International Skating Union (ISU)
To the delight of the home crowd, You delivered an excellent performance to “Evita”, reeling off a triple Axel as well as six clean triples. The only glitch was an underrotated triple flip.
The Youth Olympic Games Champion posted a personal best of 149.68 and tallied 223.23 points overall to take the first ISU Championship medal for a Korean figure skater since Yuna Kim won gold at the ISU World Championships in 2013.
It was also only the second medal for a Korean skater at the ISU Four Continents Championships.
“I was very happy to do the triple Axel and then there was no mistake in my jumps,” You said.
“I focused on a clean performance. Especially since this event was held in Korea I had a little pressure. I got a good result and I’m very happy about it.
“I’m the first Korean skater to have a medal after Yuna Kim and I feel very honored to be first since her and to achieve this in my home country”, she added.
Bronze medalist Bradie Tennell (USA) | 2020 © International Skating Union (ISU)
Skating to “Cinema Paradiso”, Tennell overcame a wobble on her opening triple Lutz-triple toe combination to produce a total of seven triples as well as difficult spins and footwork. The National bronze medalist achieved a season’s best with 147.04 points. She slipped from second to third at 222.97 points overall.
“Breaking my season’s best has given me a very good confidence boost,” Tennell said.
“At this competition I feel like I was able to relax and skate the way that I do every day. That’s kind of been my goal not only this year but also last year. I feel like I never quite achieved it last year.
“But this year throughout each competition I’ve been getting closer and closer and at this competition I was able to really achieve that.”
2018 World silver medalist Wakaba Higuchi (JPN) pulled up from fifth to fourth place at 207.46 points. She missed a triple Axel but landed six triples. 2018 Four Continents Champion Kaori Sakamoto (JPN) came fifth (202.79 points) followed by Yelim Kim (KOR).