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Figure skating: Kihira strives for perfection after back-to-back GP wins

Japanese starlet Rika Kihira said Tuesday she will continue to strive for perfection and is keeping her feet on the ground after her second straight Grand Prix win at the Internationaux de France.

«I’m happy but I want to completely suppress that feeling heading to towards my next event,» said the 16-year-old Kihira whose come-from-behind victory in France on Saturday secured her a spot at the elite Grand Prix Final being held from Dec. 6-8 in Vancouver.

Kihira is one of only a handful of women to perform a triple axel in competition. But at the Internationaux de France she singled her planned triple axel in the short skate and under-rotated the jump in the free program.

«The only thing I am aiming for now is a perfect performance. That’s what’s important, whichever event I am competing in,» she told reporters at Kansai International Airport after returning from France.

Kihira came from fifth in the short program to win the NHK Trophy on her Grand Prix debut earlier this month in Hiroshima.

She trailed compatriot Mai Mihara in France by placing second in the short skate before rallying for victory to ensure she will join fellow Japanese skaters Satoko Miyahara and Kaori Sakamoto in the Final.

«The Grand Prix Final is another level up from the events I have been skating in but I’m going to try not to think about that and try and skate flawlessly,» she said.


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In France, Kihira had struggled with jet lag and made last-minute changes to components of her free program. Looking ahead to Vancouver, where she will also have to deal with a big time difference, she said, «I’ll try and sleep late, get up late and have an afternoon nap too.»

Mihara, who arrived back in Japan on the same flight as Kihira, finished a personal-best second in France after four straight fourth-place finishes in Grand Prix events.

«I am happy that Rika and I had a one-two finish. It has been a good experience for me,» said Mihara. «But I am disappointed about the way I performed. I have found aspects of my skating that need addressing and will work on that in the lead up to the national championships.»

All — Kyodo News+

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