Japanese duo of Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara have averred that they wanted to inspire a new generation after becoming Japan’s first-ever figure skating pairs world champions.
The 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.
Remarkably, 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.
Speaking after their victory, Kihara said he hoped their latest win would usher in a new era of Japanese pairs’ success.
He said, “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”.
“I hope people will look back in 10 or 20 years’ time and say this was the catalyst for it changing.”
According to records, Miura and Kihara took gold with an overall score of 222.16, ahead of Knierim and Frazier in second place at 217.48. Sara Conti and Niccolo Macii won bronze to claim Italy’s first-ever world pairs medal on 208.08.
Miura and Kihara went into the free skate with a whopping six-point lead over Knierim and Frazier, having earned a personal best in the previous day’s short programme.
NCNC learned that 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.
Kihara said, “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”.
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,” said Miura.