Beautiful landings helped Kagiyama reach new personal best

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Yuma Kagiyama skates to second place in the men’s short program on Tuesday.

BEIJING — Yuma Kagiyama was all smiles after finishing second in the short program of men’s figure skating on Tuesday.

He scored 108.12, while Pyeonchang silver medalist Shoma Uno was in third with 105.90.

Kagiyama’s cheerful, excited demeanor was typical of an 18-year-old, but his remarkable concentration during his performance belied his innocent appearance.

His score was a new personal best for the short program, topping by more than seven points the previous high.

“I think I was able to enjoy it from beginning to end. I skated my way,” Kagiyama said beaming. He pumped his fist when he finished his performance.

Kagiyama masterfully executed his first jump, a quadruple salchow, earning more than four grade of execution points (GOE). This was followed by an excellent quadruple toe loop-triple toe loop combination and triple axel.

“I was able to come down beautifully” on all the jumps, Kagiyama said.

His father and coach Masakazu Kagiyama, who participated in two Winter Games, is a pioneer of quadruple jumps among Japanese male skaters. Father and son’s motto is “Don’t rush, don’t hurry and don’t do more than you can do.”

Kagiyama started learning quadruple jumps with a toe loop, which is seen as the easiest, and moved on to the salchow and other jumps according to their order of difficulty — one by one, steadily improving.

When Kagiyama tried such difficult jumps as a quadruple lutz, Masakazu scolded him: “You’re not ready for them. It’s not time.”

“I want to continue to have fun [in the free skate],” Kagiyama said. He plans to do a quadruple loop, his third type of quad. “First and foremost, I need to overcome myself. If I can put on my best performance, I can get good points and a good ranking,” he said.

Importance of GOE

Uno was surprised to set a new personal best in the short program despite touching the ice with his hand when he lost his balance while landing a triple toe loop in a quadruple toe loop-triple toe loop combination.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Shoma Uno performs in the men’s short program on Tuesday.

He managed to boost his overall score by securing three GOE points each for his other two jumps. “I realized anew the importance of GOE,” Uno said.

His skating career has not been completely smooth after capturing a silver medal at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.

Uno finished off the podium at two Grand Prix competitions in 2019, and was fourth at the March 2021 World Championship, despite feeling he had performed at his best. He thought he was no longer among the world’s top skaters.