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Rika Kihira leads Skate Canada over 15-year-olds

Rika Kihira of Japan leads the ladies' short program at Skate Canada after cleanly executing her trademark triple Axel.

Japanese Rika Kihira leads Skate Canada after the women’s short program, topping a pair of 15-year-olds in their senior Grand Prix debuts going into Saturday’s free skate.

Kihira, who swept her three Grand Prix starts in her first senior season last year but was fourth at worlds, already had the world’s top short program score this season. She bettered it Friday with her trademark triple Axel and 81.35 points, taking a 3.13-point lead over South Korean You Young.

“The quality of my triple Axel and my triple loop was good, like in practice, but in some parts of the program I was nervous and I didn’t do my spins so well,” Kihira said, according to the International Skating Union (ISU).

NBC Sports Gold live streams all of the free programs on Saturday. A full broadcast schedule is here.

You became the 11th woman to land a triple Axel in international competition, according to skating media.

Another young teen, Russian Alexandra Trusova, is in third. Trusova landed four quadruple jumps in her most recent free skate but attempted none Friday as they are not permitted in short programs.

Bradie Tennell, the 2018 U.S. champion, is in fourth place. If Tennell can get on the podium, she will have a decent chance at becoming the first U.S. woman to qualify for December’s Grand Prix Final since 2015. She took silver at Skate America last week.

Olympic silver medalist and two-time world champion Yevgenia Medvedeva stands sixth, 15.33 behind. She stumbled out of a double Axel landing and then fell and slid into the boards on a triple Lutz.

“Doesn’t make any sense, does it?” coach Brian Orser said in the kiss-and-cry, generating no reaction from Medvedeva before the score came up.

Medvedeva last won on the top international level in November 2017 at the tail end of a two-year win streak.

Later Friday, Yuzuru Hanyu landed two quads en route to the world’s top short program score this season -- 109.6 -- and a 20.55-point lead over American Camden Pulkinen. Hanyu scored 6.89 points higher than Nathan Chen did at Skate America, though they will not go head-to-head until the Grand Prix Final at the earliest.

“It was not so great, but I felt I did my best today,” Hanyu said, according to the ISU. “I felt calm today, but I am not sure if my calmness led to me being more focused.”

Earlier in ice dance, two-time world medalists Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue began their march toward a fifth straight Grand Prix win and a spot in the Grand Prix Final.

Hubbell and Donohue topped the rhythm dance with 83.21 points, 1.76 off their world-leading score from Skate America last week. They lead Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier by .63 going into Saturday’s free dance.

World champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France make their Grand Prix season debut in France next week.

In pairs, Russians Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitriy Kozlovskiy took the lead in the short program with 76.45 points, best in the world this season. The teenagers topped Canadian champions Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro by .95 and relegated three-time world medalists Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov to third.

Skate Canada
Women’s Short
1. Rika Kihira (JPN) -- 81.35
2. You Young (KOR) -- 78.22
3. Alexandra Trusova (RUS) -- 74.40
4. Bradie Tennell (USA) -- 72.92
5. Gabrielle Daleman (CAN) -- 63.94
6. Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS) -- 62.89
7. Serafima Sakhanovich (RUS) -- 62.63
8. Kim Yelim (KOR) -- 61.23
9. Alexia Paganini (SUI) -- 60.68
10. Marin Honda (USA) -- 59.2
11. Alicia Pineault (CAN) -- 57.59
12. Veronik Mallet (CAN) -- 51.9

Men’s Short
1. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) -- 109.6
2. Camden Pulkinen (USA) -- 89.05
3. Nam Nguyen (CAN) -- 84.08
4. Deniss Vasiljevs (LAT) -- 84.01
5. Keiji Tanaka (JPN) -- 80.11
6. Andrei Lazukin (RUS) -- 78.99
7. Julian Zhi Jie Yee (MAS) -- 75.64
8. Nicolas Nadeau (CAN) -- 75.22
9. Matteo Rizzo (ITA) -- 70.12
10. Paul Fentz (GER) -- 66.32
11. Roman Sadovsky (CAN) -- 65.29
12. Brendan Kerry (AUS) -- 56.75

Pairs’ Short
1. Aleksandra Boikova/Dmitriy Kozlovskiy (RUS) -- 76.45
2. Kirsten Moore-Towers/Michael Marinaro (CAN) -- 75.5
3. Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) -- 73.57
4. Alexa Scimeca Knierim/Chris Knierim (USA) -- 71.28
5. Liubov Ilyushechkina/Charlie Bilodeau (CAN) -- 68.62
6. Jessica Calanag/Brian Johnson (USA) -- 62.54
7. Tang Feiyao/Yang Yongchao (CHN) -- 62.35
8. Evelyn Walsh/Trennt Michaud (CAN) -- 56.09

Rhythm Dance
1. Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue (USA) -- 83.21
2. Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier (CAN) -- 82.58
3. Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker (USA) -- 79.52
4. Lilah Fear/Lewis Gibson (GBR) -- 76.67
5. Sara Hurtado/Kirill Khaliavin (ESP) -- 72.77
6. Betina Popova/Sergey Mozgov (RUS) -- 71.44
7. Marjorie Lajoie/Zachary Lagha (CAN) -- 70.50
8. Caroline Green/Michael Parsons (USA) -- 69
9. Sofia Evdokimova/Egor Bazin (RUS) -- 67.2
10. Haley Sales/Nikolas Wamsteeker (CAN) -- 63.06

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

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