Japan takes bronze in figure skating team event

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Members of the Japan team stand on the podium after winning the bronze medal in the team figure skating event at the Beijing Olympics on Monday.

BEIJING — Japan took home the bronze in team figure skating at the Beijing Olympics on Monday, its first-ever medal in this event.

Japan started the final day of the three-day event in third place. Free programs were performed by the top five out of 10 teams on Monday, with Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara finishing second in the pair’s competition with a personal best of 139.6 points.

Misato and Takeru Komatsubara finished fifth in ice dancing with a score of 98.66 points, while Kaori Sakamoto was second in women’s singles after her Russian rival, scoring 148.66 points.

Japan finished the event with a total team score of 63 points. The Russian Olympic Committee won the gold medal with 74 points, and the United States took the silver with two points more than Japan.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Misato and Takeru Komatsubara perform their ice dance free skate in the team event at the Beijing Olympics on Monday.

Team figure skating debuted at the Sochi Olympics in 2014. Japan finished fifth at both the Sochi and Pyeongchang Games.

Kagiyama awakens

The women’s short program and the men’s free skate took place on Sunday, the second day of the event.

Japan’s Wakaba Higuchi was second with 74.73 points in the women’s short program, while Yuma Kagiyama topped the men’s free skate with 208.94 points. Kagiyama’s outstanding performance earned 10 points for Japan, pushing his team into third place.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara perform their pair free skate in the team event at the Beijing Olympics on Monday.

Just 18 years old, Kagiyama is a promising skater who made his Olympic debut Sunday. He topped his previous personal best by 11 points on the day, giving him the third-highest score ever behind Nathan Chen of the United States and two-time Olympic gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu.

Kagiyama said he was surprised by his score, but that he had been able to jump as he expected. He started his free skate with a quad salchow and then executed a quad loop, an element that he had focused on during his training for the Olympics. His landing on the loop wasn’t clean, but he managed to hold on.

Overall, Kagiyama made four quadruple jumps of three different types and earned extra grade of execution points for all of them.

After performing his last jump in front of his teammates, he smiled and showed his satisfaction with the performance that he later described as being “perfect as practiced.”