Figure Skating

Kihira beats Medvedeva in Autumn Classic short program

Rika Kihira's superior jumps proved decisive in Oakville, but Evgenia Medvedeva was "satisfied" with her seasonal competitive debut

By Rory Jiwani ·

Rika Kihira laid down a marker for the new figure skating season with a stunning short program at the Autumn Classic International.

Skating last in the second group to 'Breakfast in Baghdad', the 2018-19 Grand Prix Final winner nailed her opening triple Axel before landing a triple flip-triple toe loop combo and a triple loop.

Some of the crowd - including plenty of Japanese fans - stood to applaud a superb skate.

After a delay and laughter caused by the camera in the 'kiss and cry' falling over, Kihira's score of 78.18 was announced.

WATCH: Rika Kihira wins Autumn Classic short program

Japan's 2018-19 Grand Prix Final winner took victory in the short program o...

In second place was double world champion Evgenia Medvedeva whose typically elegant skate was not quite enough to overhaul the Japanese.

Wearing a dark blue bodysuit, the PyeongChang 2018 silver medallist started with a triple flip-triple loop combination followed by a double Axel and triple Lutz.

The Russian impressed with her interpretation of Muse's 'Exogenesis', but her technical elements score was five points lower than her rival as she received a total of 75.14.

WATCH: Evgenia Medvedeva takes second in short program

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Despite only taking second place, Medvedeva declared herself satisfied with her skate and says that this season feels "totally different" to last year when she moved to Canada to work under Brian Orser.

She said, "The main difference is that I’m feeling almost as comfortable and almost as confident in myself as two years ago, as three and four years ago.

"I get used to all the changes in my life and I just started to work as I wanted to work so I don’t feel something weird in my life. I get used to the place, the rink, especially my perfect coaches. So yeah we’re just moving forward."

On her skate, she added, "It's a good performance. I can’t say that I’m so happy or I’m sad. I’m satisfied for now. But I know that the main thing is going to be tomorrow. So I will prepare to do my best tomorrow."

The 19-year-old is ready to work hard to challenge the young talents turning senior this season, some of whom, such as Alexandra Trusova, are jumping multiple quad jumps.

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Chen impresses on return

2017 US national champion Karen Chen was first on the ice as she made her 2019-20 debut after missing most of last season with a stress fracture.

The 20-year-old, who will combine competing with studying at Cornell University, slightly under-rotated on her opening triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination but her score of 60.89 was good enough for third place.

Despite some indifferent performances in practice, Alexia Paganini had an excellent short program.

The Swiss was fourth with 58.87 which saw her finish ahead of Korea's Eunsoo Lim and Kailani Craine of Australia.

Mae Berenice Meite delighted the crowd with her vibrant short program.

Skating to a medley of Latin tracks, the Frenchwoman was a bit lacking in her execution which left her down in seventh place.

In practice earlier on Thursday, she had the crowd going just as she did when she danced to Beyonce at PyeongChang 2018.

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In eighth place was Mexico's Andrea Montesinos Cantu whose clean short program earned her a personal best of 52.59, beating the mark she set at the Junior Grand Prix at Lake Placid just two weeks ago.

Mexico are also represented in the men's competition by Donovan Carrillo.

He competed at the World Championships and takes inspiration from Javier Fernandez who won two world titles and an Olympic bronze medal despite coming from a country lacking in winter sports pedigree.

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Medvedeva shines in second women's practice

Earlier, the women had their second practice session with Rika Kihira testing out her short program.

The Japanese started with a triple Axel but was unable to perform her triple flip-triple toe loop combination, instead just about completing the triple flip, and finished with a triple loop-double toe loop combo.

She did manage to land the triple flip-triple toe loop combination later in her practice and nailed no fewer than eight triple Axels.

No problems for PyeongChang 2018 silver medallist Evgenia Medvedeva in her runthrough today.

The double world champion - wearing an orange training top - struggled with her double Axel yesterday, but was clean on all three jumping elements today - triple flip-triple toe loop combination, double Axel and triple Lutz.

WATCH: Medvedeva performs clean practice runthrough

Double world champion and Olympic silver medallist Evgenia Medvedeva dazzle...

In Group One, Mae Berenice Meite had the crowd on their feet with her short program runthrough.

Meite and Karen Chen both skated today after skipping Wednesday's first practice session.

Chen fell twice on triple Lutz attempts but did land triple Lutz-triple toe loop combinations on four occasions.