Figure skating: Rika Kihira nails quad, seizes 2nd straight national title
Kyodo -- Dec 28
Rika Kihira nailed a quad salchow in her free skate to overcome a powerful challenge from Kaori Sakamoto and capture her second straight women's crown at Japan's national figure skating championships on Sunday.

The 18-year-old Kihira opened with the salchow and cruised past her only real setback, an under-rotated triple axel that followed, to score 154.90 points for the free skate for a winning 234.24 total.

Sakamoto, who entered the free skate in second place, rocked the audience at Nagano's Big Hat arena with unmatched speed and soaring jumps, scoring 150.31 for a 222.17 total to throw down the gauntlet for Kihira to follow.

The defending champ, however, was up to the challenge, nailing that big jump for the first time in her career, and executing the first quad by a woman at the nationals since Miki Ando did it in 2003 at the same venue.

Afterward, Kihira thanked her coaches and fans for picking her up when she was down.

News source: Kyodo
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