‘Relaxed’ prospect Kagiyama savors Games in team event
BEIJING – Still fresh-faced at 18, Japanese figure skater Yuma Kagiyama proved his rising star status on Saturday by finishing top of the table in the team event with a “relaxed” short program that earned him a personal best score.
Skating to the “Gladiator” soundtrack that gave him his ISU Grand Prix title in Turin in November, Kagiyama delivered a technically flawless performance for a score of 208.94, leaving him beaming and hopping off the rink towards his teammates.
“Today, I had the team behind me and they were happy with me so I really enjoyed that,” said Kagiyama, who is coached by his father, Masakazu, who skated in the 1992 and 1994 Winter Games.
“He (my father) told me to give it my all and make sure I left with no regrets,” said Kagiyama, who has been working hard on his quadruple loop jump.
“I wasn’t nervous at all. In the past, I used to try to fool myself into not being nervous by telling myself I should have fun but today, I was able to enjoy myself from the bottom of my heart.”
Team Japan captain and ice dancer Misato Komatsubara said that despite his youth Kagiyama had taught her a lot with his performance on Saturday.
“I just learned a lot of things,” she told a news conference. “He said it was fun today and he didn’t get nervous. I want to use that power that he’s feeling and showing to the world.”
Kagiyama finished ahead of Russian Mark Kondratiuk and American Vincent Zhou to put Japan in third spot going into the final day on Monday. Team ROC and Team USA are in first and second place respectively.
Earlier, Wakaba Higuchi finished second in the women’s singles for Team Japan behind ROC’s Kamila Valieva.
Men’s singles teammates Yuzuru Hanyu and Shoma Uno were absent from Japan’s rink-side corner, although Kagiyama said he had received a text message from the latter wishing him luck and saying that he could not be there due to training.
Asked about the whereabouts of defending champion Hanyu, who has yet to be seen in Beijing, Kagiyama said: “I honestly don’t know anything. I came in with all the team competitors so I really don’t know.”
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