Rika Kihira is a talented athlete from Japan, who won the fans of figure skating with a difficult program at the world stages of the Grand Prix. The ease of riding and clean jumps made it inaccessible in terms of points for rivals. He is the first skater to complete a bunch of axel jumps in three turns and a triple jump. He is mastering the jumps in four turns and plans to take part in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, where he will fight for the gold medal.
Childhood and youth
The future skater was born on July 21, 2002. She has a simple family – Katsumi Kihira’s father works in the office, Mika’s mother in the supermarket. There is an older sister Mo, who is studying for an actress and in the past was also related to figure skating.
The girl first hit the ice at 5 years old. Since then, the life of parents is subordinated to the schedule of the young athlete. Mom Ricky had to leave the post of administrator and get a job in a supermarket in order to devote more time to supporting her youngest daughter.
Rika is training in Nishinomiya. Then transferred to the Kansai University High School in Osaka. The family moves without hesitation to the area next to which the skaters training base is located. It’s inconvenient for father to get to work, but parents deliberately make sacrifices, as Rika shows successful results at the rink.
In addition to figure skating, the girl is engaged in ballet, gymnastics and piano.
The athlete, despite her young age, has a number of achievements that put her on a par with the strongest skaters in the world. Rika is the youngest single in the history of figure skating, who managed to cleanly perform the triple axel. The girl was 14 years old. It is worth noting that such a difficult jump was submitted to another skater from Japan, Mao Asade, silver medalist of the 2010 Olympic Games. And the complexity of the Kihira program is constantly being compared precisely with it.
Rika along with the coaches are trying to keep the bar high. Therefore, Kihira becomes the first athlete to perform 8 triple jumps in a free program. The girl trains with Mie Hamada and Yamata Tamura, famous specialists in world figure skating.
Among their pupils are such ice stars as Marine Honda and Satsuki Muramoto, who won prizes in international competitions. Thanks to coaching, Japanese figure skating has reached a high level, and athletes are in serious competition in the battle for places on the podium.
The skater is 154 cm tall. There is no exact information on weight, but according to the height of the jumps it is estimated at 40-45 kg.
Kihira’s debut took place in the 2016/2017 season at the Junior Grand Prix in the Czech Republic, where she took 2nd place. At the next competitions in Slovenia, Rika won a gold medal. It was here that the athlete purely performed the triple axel in the free program and scored the number of points necessary for victory.
The 2017/2018 season began with gold at the Asian Cup in Hong Kong. Judges praised Axel in three turns. At the next stage of the Grand Prix among juniors in Latvia, Rika was only sixth after a short program due to a tripped lutz. But the athlete got together and perfectly completed the free program, taking in the end the 2nd place.
The Japanese skater constantly has to compete with Russian athletes. At competitions in Italy among juniors, Kihira lost in points to Sofya Samodurova and Alena Kostornaya and won a bronze medal.
In the final of the Grand Prix among juniors in Japanese Nagoya, Rika performed a combination of a triple axel and a triple jump and became the first athlete in female figure skating to perform such a bunch of complex elements. However, she took only 4th place without completing the jump.
At the 2018 Japanese Championship, Kihira won a bronze medal. But due to her age, she continues to compete in junior competitions, not showing high results – she has 8th place. With the transition to adult figure skating, in the season 2018/2019, the Japanese skater demonstrates the seriousness of his intentions to win. At the Ondrej Nepela Trophy Challenger Tournament, Kihira has gold.
At the Grand Prix stage, at the NHK Trophy 2018 tournament, the figure skater in the overall standings wins another gold medal, displacing Japanese champion Satoko Miyahara and world champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva on the podium. In Grenoble, at the Internationaux de France tournament, Rica becomes the first again. But the athlete remains dissatisfied with the rental because of the mistakes made, which she said in an interview.
In the final of the 2018-2019 Grand Prix of Figure Skating in Canada, the Japanese figure skater sets a world record with 82.51 points in the short program. Prior to this, the record belonged to Russian woman Alina Zagitova, who received 80.78 points in the short program at the Moscow Grand Prix stage.
Vancouver ice brought Rika Kihira another gold medal. After the execution of an arbitrary program, she gains a total of 233.12 points, which make it inaccessible to competitors.