Rika Kihira

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Rika Kihira
Rika Kihira-GPFrance 2018-Gala-IMG 7213 (cropped).JPG
Personal information
Native name紀平 梨花
Country representedJapan Japan
Born (2002-07-21) 21 July 2002 (age 16)
Nishinomiya, Japan
Home townNishinomiya, Japan
Height1.54 m (5 ft 1 in)
CoachMie Hamada
Yamato Tamura
H. Okamoto
Cathy Reed
ChoreographerDavid Wilson
Tom Dickson
Cathy Reed
Skating clubKansai University Kaisers FSC
Training locationsTakatsuki, Osaka, Japan
Began skating2007
World standing11 (2018–19)[1]
Season's bests3 (2018–19) [2]
27 (2017–18)[3]
18 (2016–17)[4]
ISU personal best scores
Combined total233.12
2018–19 Grand Prix Final
Short program83.97 (WR)
2019 World Team Trophy
Free skate154.72
2018 NHK Trophy

Rika Kihira (Japanese: 紀平 梨花; born July 21, 2002) is a Japanese figure skater. She is the 2019 Four Continents champion, 2018–19 Grand Prix Final champion, 2018 NHK Trophy champion, 2018 Internationaux de France champion, 2018 CS Ondrej Nepela Trophy champion, the 2017–18 Japan Junior national champion and a two-time senior national medalist. She finished within the top ten at the 2018 World Junior Championships.

Kihira is one of nine ladies competitors to land the triple Axel jump in an international competition. She is the first ever woman to land a triple axel + triple jump combination in an international competition organized by the International Skating Union.

Personal life[edit]

Kihira was born on July 21, 2002 in Nishinomiya, Japan.[5]

Career[edit]

Kihira began learning to skate in 2007.[5] In the 2015–16 season, she competed on the advanced novice level, winning gold at the Triglav Trophy.

She is coached by Mie Hamada and Yamato Tamura in Takatsuki, Osaka.[5]

2016–17 season: International junior debut[edit]

Kihira made her Junior Grand Prix (JGP) debut in the 2016–17 season. In early September, she won the silver medal in Ostrava, Czech Republic, with a total score 0.08 less than Anastasiia Gubanova of Russia. Later that month, she outscored World junior champion Marin Honda by 15.49 points for the gold in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Kihira landed a triple Axel jump in the free skate.[6] She qualified to the 2016–17 JGP Final in Marseille, France, where she finished fourth.

2017–18 season[edit]

Kihira began her season winning a gold medal at the Asian Trophy in Hong Kong. She was able to land a triple Axel in her free skate.[7]

Kihira at the 2017–18 JGP Final.

Kihira was assigned JGP events in Latvia and Italy. In her first event at JGP Riga, Kihira placed sixth in the short program after stepping out of her triple flip and falling on her triple Lutz. She finished second overall behind Daria Panenkova after winning the free skate. In her next event at JGP Egna, she won the bronze medal behind Sofia Samodurova and Alena Kostornaia after placing second in the short program and third in the free skate. The results qualified her for her second JGP Final in Nagoya, Japan over Mako Yamashita through a tie breaker.[8] At the 2017 JGP Final, she became the first ever woman to land a triple Axel-triple jump combination in an international competition organized by the International Skating Union. She was the only non-Russian competitor and finished fourth overall, following a popped Axel and an underrotation on another jump.[9]

Kihira won the gold medal at Junior Nationals. She placed sixth in the short program, but rebounded in the free skate with a triple Axel and triple Axel-triple toe loop-double toe loop.[10]

On the senior level, Kihira won the bronze medal at Japanese Nationals, after placing fifth in the short program and second in the free skate. As she was age-ineligible to compete as a senior, she was sent to the 2018 World Junior Championships, where she placed eighth.[11]

2018–19 season: International senior debut[edit]

Making her senior debut, Kihira began the season at the 2018 Ondrej Nepela Trophy, an ISU Challenger Series event. Kihira placed first in both programs and won the gold medal, despite falling on her triple Axel attempt in the short program.

Kihira at the exhibition gala of the 2018 Internationaux de France.

Making her Grand Prix debut at 2018 NHK Trophy, Kihira was fifth in the short program after underrotating and falling on her triple Axel again, but placed first in the free skate and won the gold medal overall. In doing so, she finished ahead of compatriot and reigning Japanese national champion Satoko Miyahara and 2015 World Champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, who also performed a triple Axel in her free program. She admitted afterward: "When I finished my short program, I didn’t think I would be up here today. The short program motivated me to be good today."[12] At the Internationaux de France, Kihira singled the triple Axel in the short program, placing third. In the free skate she underrotated her sole triple Axel attempt, but still placed first and captured her second Grand Prix gold medal. Kihira stated that she was glad to have won, but was unsatisfied with her performance.[13]

The 2018–19 Grand Prix Final was regarded by many commentators as a contest between Kihira and reigning Olympic champion Alina Zagitova, who had been forced to withdraw from the Ondrej Nepela Trophy earlier due to visa issues.[14] Kihira won the short program with a world record score of 82.51, landing the triple Axel in the short program for the first time that season. She then placed first in the free skate with a score of 150.61 and won the gold medal, despite downgrading and falling on her opening triple Axel.[15]

Kihira entered the 2018 Japanese National Championships as a favorite to take the national title, but she struggled with boot problems in the competition, and made multiple errors in the short program that left her in fifth place going into the free skate. She placed first in the free skate, her only mistake being a downgraded Euler in her three-jump combination. However, she won the silver medal overall in front of training mate and four-time national champion Satoko Miyahara. The gold medal went to Kaori Sakamoto.[16]

At the 2019 Four Continents Championships, Kihira initially "hesitated" at including the triple Axel in the short program, but chose to do so, and singled it. She placed fifth in the short, with Sakamoto in the lead of the Japanese delegation and Bradie Tennell in the lead overall.[17] In the free program, Kihira landed one triple Axel and substituted a double Axel-triple toe loop combination for the second, winning both the free program and the overall championship decisively. She observed: "During this season, I learned how to keep my concentration in my free skating no matter what happens in my short program."[18]

Skating technique[edit]

Kihira is regarded by analysts to be a complete skater, praised for both her technical and artistic skills. “You can talk about the triple axel all you want, but there is a little bit of everything there," remarked Kurt Browning. Tara Lipinski also noted her all-around ability. “We focus so much on her jumps, which are incredible. But what’s interesting to me is she’s mature beyond her years. She has such a solid base and foundation when it comes to her skating skills and ice coverage and extension," she said. [19]

Kihira is known for her difficult jump layouts. She is the first female skater to land eight fully rotated triples in a program. She has landed triple Axels and triple Axel-triple toe loops in international competition, being the only female skater to achieve the latter. She was the youngest lady to land the triple axel in an ISU-sanctioned competition, until Alysa Liu. She has also executed a triple Axel-triple toe loop-double toe loop in domestic competition. She is training the quad toe loop and quad salchow.

Programs[edit]

Kihira at the 2016–17 JGP Final.
Season Short program Free skating Exhibition
2018–2019
2017–2018
[21][22]

2016–2017
[5]

2015–2016

Records and achievements[edit]

World record scores[edit]

Kihira has set two world record scores under the new +5 / -5 GOE (Grade of Execution) system.

Senior ladies' short program records
Date Score Event Note
11 April 2019 83.97 2019 World Team Trophy Current world record holder.
6 December 2018 82.51 2018–19 Grand Prix Final
Senior ladies' free skating records
Date Score Event Note
22 September 2018 147.37 2018 CS Ondrej Nepela Trophy Record was broken by Alina Zagitova of Russia at the 2018 CS Nebelhorn Trophy.

Competitive highlights[edit]

Kihira with Mai Mihara (left) and Bradie Tennell (right) at the 2018 Internationaux de France podium.

GP: Grand Prix; CS: Challenger Series; JGP: Junior Grand Prix

International[23]
Event 14–15 15–16 16–17 17–18 18–19
Worlds 4th
Four Continents 1st
GP Final 1st
GP France 1st
GP NHK Trophy 1st
CS Ondrej Nepela 1st
Challenge Cup 1st
International: Junior[23]
Junior Worlds 8th
JGP Final 4th 4th
JGP Czech Rep. 2nd
JGP Italy 3rd
JGP Latvia 2nd
JGP Slovenia 1st
Asian Trophy 1st
International: Advanced novice
Asian Trophy 5th
Triglav Trophy 1st
National[24]
Japan 3rd 2nd
Japan Junior 11th 11th 1st
Japan Novice 11th A 1st A
Team events
World Team Trophy 2nd T
4th P
TBD = Assigned; WD = Withdrew

Detailed results[edit]

Senior level[edit]

Small medals for short and free programs awarded only at ISU Championships. Current ISU world best highlighted in bold and italic. Previous ISU world bests highlighted in bold. Personal best highlighted in bold.

2018–19 season
Date Event SP FS Total
April 11–14, 2019 2019 World Team Trophy 1
83.97
5
138.37
2T/4P
222.34
March 18–24, 2019 2019 World Championships 7
70.90
2
152.59
4
223.49
February 21–24, 2019 2019 Challenge Cup 2
66.44
1
141.90
1
208.34
February 7–10, 2019 2019 Four Continents Championships 5
68.85
1
153.14
1
221.99
December 20–24, 2018 2018–19 Japan Championships 5
68.75
1
155.01
2
223.76
December 6–9, 2018 2018–19 Grand Prix Final 1
82.51
1
150.61
1
233.12
November 23–25, 2018 2018 Internationaux de France 2
67.64
1
138.28
1
205.92
November 9–11, 2018 2018 NHK Trophy 5
69.59
1
154.72
1
224.31
September 19–22, 2018 2018 CS Ondrej Nepela Trophy 1
70.79
1
147.37
1
218.16

Junior level[edit]

Kihira at the 2016–17 JGP Final.
2017–18 season
Date Event Level SP FS Total
March 5–11, 2018 2018 World Junior Championships Junior 4
63.74
9
111.51
8
175.25
December 21–24, 2017 2017–18 Japan Championships Senior 5
66.74
2
141.29
3
208.03
December 7–10, 2017 2017−18 JGP Final Junior 4
66.82
4
125.63
4
192.45
November 24–26, 2017 2017–18 Japan Junior Championships Junior 6
57.89
1
135.57
1
193.46
October 11–14, 2017 2017 JGP Italy Junior 2
66.72
3
119.09
3
185.81
September 6–9, 2017 2017 JGP Latvia Junior 6
55.05
1
125.41
2
180.46
August 2–5, 2017 2017 Asian Open Trophy Junior 1
60.26
1
122.80
1
183.06
2016–17 season
Date Event Level SP FS Total
December 8–11, 2016 2016−17 JGP Final Junior 5
54.78
3
120.38
4
175.16
November 18–20, 2016 2016–17 Japan Junior Championships Junior 4
58.86
14
94.87
11
153.73
September 21–25, 2016 2016 JGP Slovenia Junior 2
65.93
1
128.31
1
194.24
August 31–September 3, 2016 2016 JGP Czech Republic Junior 1
66.78
2
118.73
2
185.51
  • Personal best highlighted in bold.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "ISU World Standings for Single & Pair Skating and Ice Dance - Ladies". International Skating Union.
  2. ^ "ISU Judging System - Season Bests Total Scores 2018/2019". International Skating Union.
  3. ^ "Seasons Best Score 2017/2018". International Skating Union.
  4. ^ "Seasons Best Score 2016/2017". International Skating Union.
  5. ^ a b c d "Rika KIHIRA: 2016/2017". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on September 24, 2016.CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
  6. ^ "ISU JGP Ljubljana 2016 Junior Ladies Free Skating: Judges Details Per Skater" (PDF). International Skating Union. September 24, 2016.
  7. ^ "Asian Figure Skating Trophy 2016 Junior Ladies Free Skating: Judges Details Per Skater" (PDF). Hong Kong Skating Union. August 5, 2017.
  8. ^ "ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating 2017/2018 Junior Ladies Final Results". International Skating Union. October 14, 2017.
  9. ^ Slater, Paula (December 9, 2017). "Alexandra Trusova leads Russian sweep at Junior Grand Prix Final". Golden Skate.
  10. ^ Gallagher, Jack (November 26, 2017). "Rika Kihira roars back to win Japan Junior Championship with two triple axels". The Japan Times.
  11. ^ Slater, Paula (December 24, 2017). "Miyahara captures fourth national title in Tokyo". Golden Skate.
  12. ^ Mammoser, Ted (November 10, 2018). "Kihira captures gold at NHK Trophy after two triple Axels". Golden Skate.
  13. ^ Slater, Paula (November 24, 2018). "Japan's Kihira wins second Grand Prix gold in Grenoble". Golden Skate.
  14. ^ Okada, Noriko (November 28, 2018). "Skating's rising star Kihira takes on Zagitova". NHK World.
  15. ^ Flett, Ted (December 9, 2018). "Japan's Rika Kihira reigns in Vancouver". Golden Skate.
  16. ^ "Sakamoto shakes it up at Japanese Nationals; win's first title". Golden Skate. 23 December 2018.
  17. ^ Slater, Paula (February 7, 2019). "Bradie Tennell takes slight lead in Anaheim". Golden Skate.
  18. ^ Slater, Paula (February 9, 2019). "Kihira captures gold in Anaheim in debut at Four Continents". Golden Skate.
  19. ^ Gallagher, Jack (December 11, 2018). "Rika Kihira now the favorite for world title". The Japan Times.
  20. ^ a b c "木下グループ presents スターズ・オン・アイス 2018 (Special)". TBS 2. 21 April 2018.
  21. ^ "フィギュア紀平梨花が練習で4回転ジャンプに成功". Yahoo! Japan (in Japanese). 日刊スポーツ. July 2, 2017.[permanent dead link]
  22. ^ "Rika KIHIRA: 2017/2018". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on November 16, 2017.CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
  23. ^ a b "Competition Results: Rika KIHIRA". International Skating Union.
  24. ^ "紀平 梨花" [KIHIRA Rika] (in Japanese). Japan Skating Federation. Archived from the original on September 18, 2016.

External links[edit]

World Record Holders
Preceded by
Russia Alina Zagitova
Ladies' Short Program
6 December 2018 – present
Succeeded by
Incumbent
Preceded by
Russia Alexandra Trusova
Ladies' Free Skating
22 September 2018 – 28 September 2018
Succeeded by
Russia Alina Zagitova