Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara yesterday said they wanted to inspire a new generation after becoming Japan’s first ever figure skating pairs world champions.
The Japanese duo survived a late slip to hold off Americans Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier for the gold in front of an expectant crowd in Saitama, north of Tokyo.
The win gave Miura and Kihara an incredible season sweep, the pair having already claimed the NHK Trophy, Skate Canada, Grand Prix final and Four Continents titles.
Kihara said he hoped their latest win would usher in a new era of Japanese pairs success.
“I would love it if boys and girls watching this thought that they wanted to try pairs skating themselves, and we get more and more Japanese pairs,” he said. “I hope people will look back in 10 or 20 years’ time and say this was the catalyst for it changing.”
Miura and Kihara took gold with an overall score of 222.16, ahead of Knierim and Frazier in second place on 217.48.
Sara Conti and Niccolo Macii won bronze to claim Italy’s first ever world pairs medal on 208.08.
Russian skaters have again been banned from the competition because of the war in Ukraine.
Miura and Kihara went into the free skate with a 6 point lead over Knierim and Frazier, having earned a personal best in the previous day’s short program.
A fall from the American pair in the free gave Miura and Kihara some breathing space, but a late slip by Miura left the Japanese skaters sweating on the judges’ score.
“We didn’t know what the score was going to be, but I told her to puff her chest and be proud, and just pray for the score,” Kihara said.
The pair, who have competed together since 2019, broke down in tears once their victory was confirmed.
“We have some regrets from the free skate, but I’m very, very happy,” Miura said.
Knierim and Frazier’s preparations for the event were rocked when their coach Todd Sand had a heart attack earlier this month.
Frazier said that the competition had been “challenging and emotional,” but he and his partner were proud of their performance.
“We’ve had a couple of mistakes here, but we held our chins high and we attacked everything,” he said. “I’m just so fulfilled with how Alexa and I performed this week.”
Taiwan’s Lin Chun-yi yesterday bowed out at the Malaysia Masters, defeated in the semi-finals a day after an epic quarter-final against the highest-ranked player left in the men’s singles draw. Lin lost to Weng Hongyang of China 21-13, 21-19 after a draining match against Japan’s Kodai Naraoka a day earlier in which the second game had 59 points. The 23-year-old left-hander had won his only previous BWF match against his Chinese opponent. However, Weng booked a place in today’s final after easing past the Taiwanese battler. He faces India’s H.S. Prannoy, who advanced when Indonesia’s Christian Adinata retired while trailing 19-17 in the
Kosovo Olympic authorities have asked the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to open disciplinary proceedings against Novak Djokovic, accusing the Serb of stirring up political tension by saying “Kosovo is the heart of Serbia” at the French Open. Djokovic wrote the message on a camera lens following his first-round win on Monday, the same day that 30 NATO peacekeeping troops were hurt in clashes with Serb protesters in the Kosovo town of Zvecan where Djokovic’s father grew up. “Kosovo is our cradle, our stronghold, center of the most important things for our country,” 36-year-old told Serbian media. Serbian authorities said 52 protesters were wounded
Unable to sleep the night before her first-round match at the French Open against second seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine checked her phone at 5am on Sunday and saw disturbing news back home in Kyiv. At least one person was killed when the capital of Kostyuk’s nation was subjected to the largest drone attack by Russia since the start of the war, launched with an invasion assisted by Belarus in February last year. “It’s something I cannot describe, probably. I try to put my emotions aside any time I go out on court. I think I’m better than
China has long been the sleeping giant of men’s tennis, but on Monday the giant stirred as Shanghai trailblazer Zhang Zhizhen advanced to the second round of Roland Garros. One of three Chinese men in the draw, Zhang became the first from the nation to win a main draw match at Roland Garros in 86 years after Serbian opponent Dusan Lajovic retired due to illness when trailing 6-1, 4-1. Compatriots Shang Juncheng and Wu Yibing bowed out in defeat, but 26-year-old Zhang has a big chance to go further when he takes on Argentine qualifier Thiago Agustin Tirante for a place in