Kihira at the 2018 Internationaux de France
|Native name||紀平 梨花|
|Born||21 July 2002|
|Home town||Nishinomiya, Japan|
|Height||1.54 m (5 ft 1 in)|
|Coach||Mie Hamada |
|Choreographer||David Wilson |
|Skating club||Kansai University Kaisers FSC|
|Training locations||Takatsuki, Osaka, Japan|
|World standing||11 (2018–19)|
|Season's bests||3 (2018–19)  |
|ISU personal best scores|
2018–19 Grand Prix Final
|Short program||83.97 (WR)|
2019 World Team Trophy
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.
- 1 Personal life
- 2 Career
- 3 Skating technique
- 4 Programs
- 5 Records and achievements
- 6 Competitive highlights
- 7 Detailed results
- 8 References
- 9 External links
2016–17 season: International junior debut
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. She qualified to the 2016–17 JGP Final in Marseille, France, where she finished fourth.
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. 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.
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.
2018–19 season: International senior debut
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.
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." 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.
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. 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.
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.
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. 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."
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. 
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.
|Season||Short program||Free skating||Exhibition|
Records and achievements
- Holds a ladies' technical score of 87.17 points in the free skate, previously held by Alexandra Trusova.
- Holds a ladies' technical score of 48.17 points in the short program.
- Set the ladies' record of the new +5 / -5 GOE (Grade of Execution) system for the free program with a score of 147.37 points at the 2018 CS Ondrej Nepela Trophy, previously held by Alexandra Trusova (Russia).
- First lady to land a triple Axel + triple toe loop at the 2017–18 Junior Grand Prix Final.
- The youngest lady to land a triple Axel at the 2016 JGP Slovenia (14 years 54 days).
- Second lady to land two triple axel jumps in the same program (2018 CS Ondrej Nepela Trophy) behind Mao Asada.
- First lady to land 8 (fully rotated) triple jumps in the free skate (3A, 3Lz+3T, 3Lo, 2A+3T, 3F+2T+2Lo, 3S, 3Lz) at the 2016 JGP Slovenia.
- Second junior lady to land a triple axel behind Mao Asada.
World record scores
Kihira has set two world record scores under the new +5 / -5 GOE (Grade of Execution) system.
|Senior ladies' short program records|
|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|
|22 September 2018||147.37||2018 CS Ondrej Nepela Trophy||Record was broken by Alina Zagitova of Russia at the 2018 CS Nebelhorn Trophy.|
|GP NHK Trophy||1st|
|CS Ondrej Nepela||1st|
|JGP Czech Rep.||2nd|
|International: Advanced novice|
|Japan Novice||11th A||1st A|
|World Team Trophy||2nd T |
|TBD = Assigned; WD = Withdrew|
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.
|April 11–14, 2019||2019 World Team Trophy||1
|March 18–24, 2019||2019 World Championships||7
|February 21–24, 2019||2019 Challenge Cup||2
|February 7–10, 2019||2019 Four Continents Championships||5
|December 20–24, 2018||2018–19 Japan Championships||5
|December 6–9, 2018||2018–19 Grand Prix Final||1
|November 23–25, 2018||2018 Internationaux de France||2
|November 9–11, 2018||2018 NHK Trophy||5
|September 19–22, 2018||2018 CS Ondrej Nepela Trophy||1
|March 5–11, 2018||2018 World Junior Championships||Junior||4
|December 21–24, 2017||2017–18 Japan Championships||Senior||5
|December 7–10, 2017||2017−18 JGP Final||Junior||4
|November 24–26, 2017||2017–18 Japan Junior Championships||Junior||6
|October 11–14, 2017||2017 JGP Italy||Junior||2
|September 6–9, 2017||2017 JGP Latvia||Junior||6
|August 2–5, 2017||2017 Asian Open Trophy||Junior||1
|December 8–11, 2016||2016−17 JGP Final||Junior||5
|November 18–20, 2016||2016–17 Japan Junior Championships||Junior||4
|September 21–25, 2016||2016 JGP Slovenia||Junior||2
|August 31–September 3, 2016||2016 JGP Czech Republic||Junior||1
- Personal best highlighted in bold.
- "ISU World Standings for Single & Pair Skating and Ice Dance - Ladies". International Skating Union.
- "ISU Judging System - Season Bests Total Scores 2018/2019". International Skating Union.
- "Seasons Best Score 2017/2018". International Skating Union.
- "Seasons Best Score 2016/2017". International Skating Union.
- "Rika KIHIRA: 2016/2017". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on September 24, 2016.CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
- "ISU JGP Ljubljana 2016 Junior Ladies Free Skating: Judges Details Per Skater" (PDF). International Skating Union. September 24, 2016.
- "Asian Figure Skating Trophy 2016 Junior Ladies Free Skating: Judges Details Per Skater" (PDF). Hong Kong Skating Union. August 5, 2017.
- "ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating 2017/2018 Junior Ladies Final Results". International Skating Union. October 14, 2017.
- Slater, Paula (December 9, 2017). "Alexandra Trusova leads Russian sweep at Junior Grand Prix Final". Golden Skate.
- Gallagher, Jack (November 26, 2017). "Rika Kihira roars back to win Japan Junior Championship with two triple axels". The Japan Times.
- Slater, Paula (December 24, 2017). "Miyahara captures fourth national title in Tokyo". Golden Skate.
- Mammoser, Ted (November 10, 2018). "Kihira captures gold at NHK Trophy after two triple Axels". Golden Skate.
- Slater, Paula (November 24, 2018). "Japan's Kihira wins second Grand Prix gold in Grenoble". Golden Skate.
- Okada, Noriko (November 28, 2018). "Skating's rising star Kihira takes on Zagitova". NHK World.
- Flett, Ted (December 9, 2018). "Japan's Rika Kihira reigns in Vancouver". Golden Skate.
- "Sakamoto shakes it up at Japanese Nationals; win's first title". Golden Skate. 23 December 2018.
- Slater, Paula (February 7, 2019). "Bradie Tennell takes slight lead in Anaheim". Golden Skate.
- Slater, Paula (February 9, 2019). "Kihira captures gold in Anaheim in debut at Four Continents". Golden Skate.
- Gallagher, Jack (December 11, 2018). "Rika Kihira now the favorite for world title". The Japan Times.
- "木下グループ presents スターズ・オン・アイス 2018 (Special)". TBS 2. 21 April 2018.
- "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]
- "Rika KIHIRA: 2017/2018". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on November 16, 2017.CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
- "Competition Results: Rika KIHIRA". International Skating Union.
- "紀平 梨花" [KIHIRA Rika] (in Japanese). Japan Skating Federation. Archived from the original on September 18, 2016.
|World Record Holders|
| Ladies' Short Program
6 December 2018 – present
| Ladies' Free Skating
22 September 2018 – 28 September 2018