Golden Skate

Mai Mihara front runner in Ladies’ event at Internationaux de France

Mai Mihara

Mai Mihara of Japan performs her Short Program at 2018 Internationaux de France.

2018 Internationaux de France

Ladies Figure Skating

Mai Mihara of Japan hold the lead in what is a virtual tie with teammate Rika Kihira and Russia’s Evgenia Medvedeva after the Ladies’ Short Program in Grenoble, France.

Mihara under-rotated the back end of a triple Lutz-triple toe, but was otherwise solid in her routine to “It’s Magic” by Doris Day. The 2018 Four Continents silver medalist landed a triple flip, double Axel and showed level 4 spins and strong level 3 footwork to post 67.95 points.

“I’m a little surprised to be sitting here right now,” said the 19-year-old from Kobe, Japan. “I was lacking a little speed from the beginning. After the NHK Trophy, I was practicing my triple-triple (combination) very hard and I put a lot of energy in it. I am disappointed that it didn’t happen today, but my motivation goes up and I want to show a clean performance tomorrow.”

Teammate Kihira popped her opening triple Axel, but landed a triple flip-triple toe and triple Lutz, showing strong spins and footwork in her routine to “Clair de Lune” by Claude Debussy. The Japanese Junior champion eared 67.64 points for second place.

“I regret the (popped) triple Axel a lot, but I landed the triple flip-triple toe and the triple Lutz cleanly,” said the 16-year-old who won gold at NHK Trophy earlier this month. “Tomorrow in practice I’ll check on my triple Axel again. I don’t think much about my score, I just want to leave my mistakes behind.”

Medvedeva received an edge call on her opening triple Lutz and had a shaky landing on the triple flip-double toe (meant to be a triple), but managed two level four spins to place third with 67.55 points for her routine to “Orange Colored Sky” by Natalie Cole.

“The short program was better than at Skate Canada,” noted the Olympic silver medalist, “but I am still disappointed with the performance. But I feel more alive than after the short program at Skate Canada. I’m in third place now and I have the opportunity to fight.”

Japan’s Marin Honda earned a season’s best of 65.37 with her bluesy rock routine to “Seven Nations Army” by The White Stripes. The 17-year-old from Kyoto under-rotated her opening combination jump, but delivered strong spins and footwork to finish fourth.

Russia’s Maria Sotskova is currently in fifth (61.76), followed by USA’s Bradie Tennell (61.34).