Hiroshima, Japan

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Japan’s Rika Kihira soared to gold, making it one-two for the host country with Satoko Miyahara taking the silver as the Ladies event concluded with the Free Skating in Hiroshima (JPN) on Saturday. Overnight leader Elizaveta Tuktamysheva of Russia claimed the bronze in what was a high-level competition.

GP JPN Rika Kihira

Japan's Rika Kihira wowed the home crowd to take gold in the Ladies event on Saturday 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)

Kihira, who stood in fifth place following the Short Program after a fall on the triple Axel, came back strong in her Free Skating to “Beautiful Storm” by Jennifer Thomas. This time she nailed the triple Axel twice - in combination with a triple toe and as a solo jump. The 16-year-old jumping phenomenon then reeled off five more triples and collected all level fours for her spins and footwork to compile a score of 154.72 points, and a total of 224.31.

“Yesterday there were some concerns about my triple Axel, but in the morning practice I checked on my Axel and this was reflected in my performance,” Kihira said. “After the short program I wasn’t sure if I could come back and be here today. The mistake (in the Short Program) motivated me today, but I didn’t imagine I could get such a high score.”

GP JPN Satoko Miyahara

Satoko Miyahara, of Japan, won silver 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)

Miyahara turned in an elegant performance to “Invierno Porteno” that included a triple Lutz-triple toe combination as well as five more triples, but she underrotated a double Axel and a double loop. The 2018 World bronze medalist scored 143.39, giving her 219.47 points overall.

“Today in the free skating I was a little tense,” Miyahara, 20, admitted. “The performance was not that bad, but I need to work harder. Each competition paves the way for the next competition.”

GP NHK Elizaveta Tuktamysheva(RUS)2018©International Skating Union(ISU) 1059925288

Elizaveta Tuktamysheva of Russia claimed the bronze 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)

Tuktamysheva opened her upbeat routine to “You Don’t Love Me”, “Petite Fleur” and “Cat Groove” with a somewhat shaky triple Axel and went on to reel off a triple Lutz-triple toe combination and four more triples. The 2015 World Champion posted a season’s best of 142.85 points and was ranked third in the Free Skating. She slipped from first to third, with 219.02 points in total.

“I am satisfied with my free skating today, I skated better than at Skate Canada and this is actually the highest score I ever had in my career,” the 21-year-old from St. Petersburg said. “I am glad that I am making progress and I hope I won’t stop here.” 

Miyahara has qualified for the Grand Prix Final with gold and silver and Tuktamysheva should have her spot as well with gold and bronze from her two events. Kihira will compete again in two weeks in France at the sixth and last event.

GP JPN Medallists Ladies

Japan's Satoko Miyahar (silver) and Rika Kihira (gold) alongside Russia's bronze medalist Elizaveta Tuktamysheva 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)

Mai Mihara (JPN) completed a strong showing of the Japanese Ladies on home ice with another strong performance, although she dropped from third to fourth on 204.20 points. Mariah Bell (USA) pulled up from seventh to fifth place on 198.96 points while Eunsoo Lim (KOR) slipped from fourth to sixth on 196.31 points after falling on a triple Salchow.

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