Figure Skating

Kihira Rika teases short program for new season

Japanese figure skater has been working with Benoit Richaud on choreography for her new programs

By ZK Goh ·

It's around this time of the year that figure skating fans get a sneak preview into their favourites' new programs for the upcoming season.

And, even with the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming 2020-21 ISU Grand Prix season, with plans to hold regionalised events, this year is no different.

Japan's Kihira Rika has sent her fans into a frenzy after recently teasing photos and a short video of her new short program, which she has been working on with French choreographer Benoit Richaud.

"The choreography of my short programme is complete.

"It's really difficult but I'm going to practise everyday and make sure I get it right."

New choreographer

Kihira had not previously worked with Richaud, a former ice dancer for France. Her 2019-20 choreographers, according to her ISU biography, were Shae-Lynn Bourne, Tom Dickson, and Cathy Reed.

In a recent interview he gave the Skating to Music blog, Richaud said his partnership with Kihira was a few years in the making.

"Rika wanted to work with me for two years already. Since I did some choreography for Satoko Miyahara, who works with the same coach, and Daisuke Takahashi, she knew what I was doing and which direction I take when I develop skaters," he said.

"This season's new short program."

Maturity

Richaud also shared in the interview that he felt Kihira had matured while working on the program.

"Kihira has turned into a totally different skater after these 5 days of work that we had. I pushed her much farther than she thought she could possibly go. The program we created is about maturity," he said.

"She looks like a senior skater there — you don’t notice that she is 17 years old anymore. Her skating was all about lightness, whereas I tried to bring more sharpness and attack to her movements. I think a few people will be surprised by this program."

The link-up with Richaud is not Kihira's first addition to her support staff this off-season.

Back in June, she announced that she had agreed to start working with famed coach Brian Orser, who has trained her compatriot Hanyu Yuzuru to two Olympic golds.