Rika Kihira led the Japanese Ladies to a one-two finish at the Internationaux de France and took her second Grand Prix gold medal this season. Mai Mihara slipped from first to second while Bradie Tennell (USA) climbed from sixth to third.
Kihira opened her program to “Beautiful Storm” by Jennifer Thomas with a shaky triple Axel and underrotated the jump. She recovered to land a double Axel-triple toeloop combination as well as four more clean triples and two level-four spins. The NHK Trophy Champion earned 138.28 points and accumulated 205.92 points to move up from second to first place. “Considering that I couldn’t condition my body well, I did what I could do. I’m happy about my victory, but I’m not satisfied with my performance and my score, and I hope to do better in the Grand Prix Final,” the 16-year-old said.
Mai Mihara had five clean triple jumps in her silver-medal routine | 2018 ©International Skating Union (ISU)
Mihara’s program to “The Mission” soundtrack included five clean triple jumps, but she doubled a Salchow and underrotated a toeloop. The 2017 Four Continents Champion ranked third in the Free Skating with 134.86 points and slipped from first to second place on 202.81 points. “Today I am not satisfied with my free skating. Before I skated I almost burst into tears, but my coach told me, ‘don’t worry, I’m here with you’ and that was a relief. Overall it was a good experience for me and I will continue to practice to gain more confidence,” the 19-year-old said.
American Bradie Tennell climbed from sixth to grab the bronze medal | 2018 ©International Skating Union (ISU)
Tennell delivered a strong performance of her “Romeo and Juliet” program, landing five clean triples, including a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination. The U.S. Champion was ranked second in the Free Skating with 136.44 points and totaled 197.78 points. “I’m pretty happy with how today’s performance went,” she said. “To come to an event like this and skate like I have been practicing is really rewarding. Obviously, I still want to improve on things in the program and yesterday’s performance can be much improved as well.”
Two-time World Champion Evgenia Medvedeva (RUS) made a few errors and dropped from third to fourth on 192.81 points. Grand Prix Helsinki silver medalist Stanislava Konstantinova (RUS) pulled up from ninth to fifth with a strong performance (189.67 points). Marin Honda (JPN) came sixth on 188.61 points.
Rika Kihira took her second Grand Prix gold medal of the season | 2018 ©International Skating Union (ISU)