Teenager Kihira shinds with debut NHK Trophy triumph

Teenager Kihira shinds with debut NHK Trophy triumph
By Sportsbeat

10/11/2018 at 14:17

Glory belonged to Japan on Saturday after 16-year-old figure skater Rika Kihira nailed two triple axels to win the NHK Trophy in Hiroshima.

The school student recovered from fifth at the end of Friday's short program to clinch gold with a flawless free skate performance on her Grand Prix debut.

Kihira scored 154.72 points for a total of 224.31, taking her five points clear of compatriot Satoko Miyahara, who finished second with 219.47 points, and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva of Russia, who finished third with 219.02.

The skater from Nishinomiya opened her routine with a triple axel, triple toe loop combination and added six more triple jumps - including another triple axel - to become the first Japanese skater to win the NHK Trophy since Miyahara in 2015.

Kihira said: "I was a little worried about the triple axel after [Friday], so I worked on it in practice and was able to do it cleanly.

"Winning here is something that will give me confidence and [will] be a wonderful memory."

It was a double celebration for Japan as Shoma Uno won the men's gold, to follow up on his win at Skate Canada.

The PyeongChang silver medallist was first after the short program and opened with three straight quadruple jumps to score 183.96 points in the free skate for a winning total of 276.45.

Sergei Voronov of Russia was second with 254.28 points, followed by Matteo Rizzo of Italy with 224.71.

Russians Natalia Zabiiako and Alexander Enbert won gold in the pairs free skating, securing their second consecutive victory and advancing to the Grand Prix Final, starting on December 6.

Zabiiako and Enbert received a season-best 140.66 points in the free skate for a total of 214.14.

Sportsbeat 2018