Figure skating: Kihira rallies again to win in France

Japanese starlet Rika Kihira rallied to score her second Grand Prix victory of the season on Saturday at the Internationaux de France, booking her ticket to the elite final in Vancouver next month in the process.

The 16-year-old, second after the short program, earned 138.28 points from her free skate for a total of 205.92. Compatriot Mai Mihara, who started the day in first place, finished second with 202.81 points and Bradie Tennell of the United States was third with 197.78 points.

Kihira, who also came from behind to win at the NHK Trophy in Hiroshima on her Grand Prix debut earlier this month, opened her program to «Beautiful Storm» by Jennifer Thomas with a wobbly triple axel and under-rotated the jump.

She bounced back to nail a double axel-triple toeloop combination as well as four more clean triples and two level-four spins.

«I am so happy that I have won,» said Kihira, who joins fellow Japanese skaters Satoko Miyahara and Kaori Sakamoto in next month’s Grand Prix Final. «I think I have given my best performance considering the jet lag and lack of power in my legs.»

«I will try hard in practice so I can be in perfect condition at the Grand Prix Final and aim to rewrite my personal best score.»

Mihara, who had a slender lead over Kihira after the short program, landed five clean triple jumps but doubled a salchow and under-rotated a toeloop.

She finished a personal-best second after four straight fourth-place finishes in Grand Prix events.

«I am disappointed because my performances were not satisfactory in either the short program or the free skate but it’s nice to get out of the pattern of finishing fourth,» said Mihara. «I think I can improve.»

Russian two-time world champion Evgenia Medvedeva was fourth and her countrywoman Stanislava Konstantinova fifth. Marin Honda of Japan finished sixth.

The Grand Prix Final for the top six skaters or pairs in each discipline from the Grand Prix series of six events will take place in Vancouver on Dec. 6-8.

All — Kyodo News+

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