Rika Kihira takes Autumn Classic International victory

Kihira gets the better of Evgenia Medvedeva in the ladies' free skate to win on her 2019-20 season debut in Oakville.

4 min By Rory Jiwani
Rika Kihira at the end of her free skate at the 2019 Autumn Classic International

Rika Kihira has showed she is going to be one of the women to beat this season with victory at the Autumn Classic International.

Despite opting to leave out the quad Salchow she has practised for this campaign, last year's Grand Prix Final winner nailed two triple Axels in a spectacular free skate.

Kihira received a standing ovation after a performance which earned her 145.98 for a winning total of 224.16 as she added to her triumph in Thursday's short program.

The pressure was on the Japanese after Evgenia Medvedeva, wearing a kimono-inspired outfit, captivated the audience with her skate to 'Memoirs of a Geisha'.

The double world champion and PyeongChang 2018 silver medallist punched the air at the end of her routine which, while not foot-perfect, was full of elegance and solid jumping.

Medvedeva was all smiles in the 'kiss and cry' with coach Brian Orser as she was awarded 142.29 giving her a total of 217.43.

Afterwards, Medvedeva told reporters she "can do better" and that she's feeling much happier having adjusted to life in Toronto, just over a year after joining up with Orser.

The 19-year-old said, "That was my main goal for this competition, to do pretty solid performances because it was important for me to start the season... because the last season was really 'shaken' and now I feel like I'm in shape.

"I can feel that I can do better and I'm pretty satisfied with the scores because it's the same as I skated today. I know the places where I can improve and do better so I will continue to work."

There's no rest for the Russian who added, "Tomorrow I will have a practice and after tomorrow finally I will have a day off and then a work week, as usual, and preparing for the next one."

On her new life in Canada, she said, "Now I'm getting used to using the language, I don't even think about it. I've got a lot of friends, I've got a lot of people to whom I can talk in Russian and English.

"I even have some favourite places in Toronto so I'm feeling really comfortable."

Meanwhile, Kihira explained why she did not attempt the quad Salchow which many had hoped she would try in Oakville.

In just her second year in the senior ranks, the 17-year-old said she wanted to "stabilise" her other jumps before adding quads to her competition layouts.

But she felt her triple Axel was already more stable than last season.

Lim takes final podium spot

Eunsoo Lim was third after a big improvement on her short program.

The 16-year-old, who has returned to Korea after a year training under Rafael Arutunian in California, skated expressively to 'Sabrina' and just missed out one combination in a performance which bodes well for the season ahead.

She was rewarded with a score of 128.07 for a total of 184.38.

Karen Chen had to settle for fourth after a couple of falls in her free skate.

The 2017 US national champion lost confidence after her second fall, singling a double loop, but this was a promising seasonal debut having missed most of 2018-19 due to a stress fracture.

Kailani Craine of Australia was fifth ahead of Switzerland's Alexia Paganini with Mae Berenice Meite in seventh place after her free skate to Adele's 'Hometown Glory' which was choreographed by Adam Rippon.

Women's practice recap

With Yuzuru Hanyu and the men practising on the main rink in the Sixteen Mile Sports Complex, Kihira and Medvedeva ran through their free skates on the second rink where the few spectators struggled to stay warm.

It was cold. Very cold.

Medvedeva, dressed in an orange top and black leggings just as she was in Thursday practice, was first of the big two to have her run-through.

The 19-year-old landed her first double Axel and had a strong skate until under-rotating a triple flip and popping her closing triple loop.

That said, it was an improvement on the Russian test event earlier this month where she fell on her free skate practice.

Evgenia Medvedeva in practice on Friday at the Autumn Classic International
Evgenia Medvedeva in practice on Friday at the Autumn Classic International

Kihira, initially wearing a training top over a teal-coloured dress, fell on what looked to be a triple loop in the warm-up but then landed it successfully moments later before a couple of trademark triple Axels.

After removing her jacket for the run-through she launched straight into triple Axel-double toe loop combination before falling on a triple Axel.

But the rest of her run-through went to plan with the 17-year-old landing triple flip-triple toe loop and triple loop-double toe loop-double loop combinations.

Add these to your favourites
Figure SkatingFigure Skating
More from

You May Like