Rika Kihira lands two triple Axels, with Shoma Uno makes it Japan sweep at NHK

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Rika Kihira has arrived on the senior Grand Prix.

Kihira, 16, became the first woman to land two fully rotated triple Axels in one program on the top senior international level since Mao Asada at the 2010 Olympics and the youngest Japanese skater to win a Grand Prix since Kanako Murakami, also in 2010.

Kihira leaped from fifth after Friday’s short program to win NHK Trophy in Hiroshima on Saturday, beating winners of two of the first three Grand Prix events — Japanese Satoko Miyahara and Russian Elizaveta Tuktamysheva. It was her senior Grand Prix debut.

Kihira’s free-skate and total scores (154.72 and 224.31, boosted by an opening triple Axel-triple toe loop combination and standalone triple Axel) rank second in the world this season behind Olympic champion Alina Zagitova, whom she will likely face at December’s Grand Prix Final.

Kihira came into NHK as a wild card. Eighth at last season’s junior worlds, she won her senior international debut in September with two triple Axels in her free at a lower-level event. She fell on an under-rotated triple Axel in Friday’s short program, putting her six points behind Tuktamysheva and training partner Miyahara.

“Yesterday there were some concerns about my triple Axel, but in the morning practice I checked on my Axel, and this was reflected in my performance,” Kihira said, according to the International Skating Union. “After the short program I wasn’t sure if I could come back and be here today. The mistake motivated me today, but I didn’t imagine I could get such a high score.”

Tuktamysheva, the only other senior woman performing the triple Axel, turned out of her landing in Saturday’s free skate. Miyahara had two under-rotated jumps and an edge call, but passed the Russian for silver by .45. Mariah Bell was the top American in fifth.

Kihira still has maturing to do, evidenced by ceding four points to the elegant Miyahara in artistic marks.

“[Kihira] is working very hard on the artistry, because I want her to become a very beautiful lady skater with triple Axel and quad,” the Japanese stars’ coach, Mie Hamadasaid last month. “This year I am not planning to have quads in her programs, but I want beautiful edges, beautiful flow.”

NHK TROPHY: Results | TV/Stream Schedule

Shoma Uno won the men’s event for a Japanese singles sweep. The Olympic and world silver medalist attempted six quads between two programs, with a fall and missed combination in the short program and some messy landings in the free.

He totaled 276.45 points and remains ranked third in the world this season behind Yuzuru Hanyu and Nathan Chen, whom he will likely face at the Grand Prix Final.

Russian Sergei Voronov took silver, 22.17 points back, followed by Matteo Rizzo, the first Italian man to earn a Grand Prix singles medal. U.S. Olympian Vincent Zhou was fourth, then revealed on social media that he was off skates the week before with a dislocated shoulder.

Earlier Saturday, Russians Natalya Zabiyako and Alexander Enbert and Chinese Peng Cheng and Jin Yang qualified for the Grand Prix Final by going one-two in pairs. U.S. Olympians Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim improved from fourth after Friday’s short to take bronze, their first Grand Prix medal in three years.

Zabiyako and Enbert, who were seventh at the Olympics, won back-to-back Grand Prix events and rank second in the world this season behind French Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres, who were not in the NHK field. None of the Olympic medalists are competing on the Grand Prix series.

Russians Tiffany Zahorski and Jonathan Guerreiro topped the rhythm dance with 75.49 points. U.S. couples Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker and Rachel Parsons and Michael Parsons are in second and third, respectively, going into Sunday’s free dance.

As a reminder, you can watch the ISU Grand Prix Series live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. GO HERE 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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How to watch Olympic sports on NBC Sports this week

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Mikaela Shiffrin‘s pursuit of her 50th World Cup win highlights this week’s winter sports coverage on NBC Sports and Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and streaming on NBC Sports Gold.

Shiffrin, with 48 World Cup wins, is slated to race two of the four women’s World Cup events this week — a giant slalom and slalom in Courchevel, France, on Friday and Saturday. She is sitting out a downhill on Tuesday and a super-G on Wednesday in Val Gardena, Italy.

Only Lindsey Vonn (82), Annemarie Moser-Pröll (62) and Vreni Schneider (55) have more World Cup wins among women. Vonn is out until January after injuring a knee in a November training crash.

Shiffrin, a two-time Olympic champion, has five wins in the first nine events this season, including the last three in a row. With a slalom win Saturday, she will tie childhood idol Marlies Schild for the female record in the discipline with 35 victories.

U.S. Olympians are also in action among biathlon, freestyle skiing, Nordic combined and snowboarding World Cups.

ALPINE SKIING WORLD CUP — Austria, France, Italy

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Tuesday 6:30 a.m. Women’s Super-G Olympic Channel NBC Sports Gold
Wednesday 4 a.m. Men’s Giant Slalom (Run 1) Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
5:30 a.m. Women’s Super-G Olympic Channel NBC Sports Gold
7 a.m. Men’s Giant Slalom (Run 2) Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
12:30 p.m.* Men’s Giant Slalom Olympic Channel
Thursday 4 a.m. Men’s Slalom (Run 1) Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
7 a.m. Men’s Slalom (Run 2) Olympic Channel NBC Sports Gold
Friday 4:30 a.m. Women’s Giant Slalom (Run 1) Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
7:30 a.m. Women’s Giant Slalom (Run 2) Olympic Channel NBC Sports Gold
12 p.m.* Women’s Giant Slalom NBCSN
Saturday 4:30 a.m. Women’s Slalom (Run 1) Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
7:30 a.m. Women’s Slalom (Run 2) Olympic Channel NBC Sports Gold
9:45 a.m. Men’s Slalom (Run 1) Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
12:30 p.m. Men’s Slalom (Run 2) Olympic Channel NBC Sports Gold
2:30 p.m.* Women’s Slalom NBCSN
Sunday 2:30 p.m.* Women’s GS and Slalom NBC

*Delayed broadcast
All races stream live on NBC Sports Gold for “Snow Pass” subscribers and will have a replay of the event. Click here for more info.

BIATHLON WORLD CUP — Nove Mesto, Czech Republic

Day Time (ET) Event TV Live stream
Thursday 11:30 a.m. Men’s 10km Sprint Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
3 p.m.* Olympic Channel
Friday 11:30 a.m. Women’s 7.5km Sprint Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
1 p.m.* NBCSN
Saturday 9 a.m. Men’s 12.5.km Pursuit Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
11 a.m. Women’s 10km Pursuit Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
2 p.m.* Men’s 12.5km Pursuit Olympic Channel
3 p.m.* Women’s 10km Pursuit Olympic Channel
6:30 p.m.* Men’s 12.5km Pursuit NBCSN
Sunday 5:45 a.m. Men’s 15km Mass Start Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
8:30 a.m. Women’s 12.5km Mass Start Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
1 p.m.* Men’s 15km Mass Start Olympic Channel
2 p.m.* Women’s 12.5km Mass Start Olympic Channel

*Same-day delay
All races stream live on NBC Sports Gold for “Snow Pass” subscribers and will have a replay of the event. Click here for more info.

FREESTYLE SKIING WORLD CUP — China, Italy

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Friday 7:20 a.m. Ski Cross Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
10 p.m. Halfpipe Olympic Channel
Saturday 5:05 a.m. Ski Cross Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold

All events stream live on NBC Sports Gold for “Snow Pass” subscribers and will have a replay of the event. Click here for more info.

NORDIC COMBINED WORLD CUP — Ramsau, Austria

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Saturday 6 a.m. HS98 NBC Sports Gold
8:45 a.m. 10km NBC Sports Gold
Sunday 4:30 a.m. HS98 NBC Sports Gold
6:30 a.m. 10km NBC Sports Gold

All events stream live on NBC Sports Gold for “Snow Pass” subscribers and will have a replay of the event. Click here for more info.

SNOWBOARD WORLD CUP — China, Italy

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Thursday 8:30 p.m. Halfpipe Olympic Channel
12 a.m. Slopestyle Olympic Channel
Friday 5:30 a.m. Snowboard Cross Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold
Saturday 5:30 a.m. Snowboard Cross Olympic Channel | NBC Sports Gold

All races stream live on NBC Sports Gold for “Snow Pass” subscribers and will have a replay of the event. Click here for more info.

South Korea Olympic star alleges concussion, sabotage at hands of coach

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Shim Suk-Hee, an Olympic short track speed skating champion, said that her now-banned, ex-coach gave her a concussion that caused her to faint during the Olympics, according to South Korean media.

Shim’s former coach, Cho Jae-Beom, received a life ban from the Korean Skating Union and in September was sentenced to 10 months in jail for assaulting athletes between 2011 and 2018, according to the International Skating Union.

“Before the PyeongChang Olympics, he kicked and punched me so hard that I thought I was going to die,” a tearful Shim testified Monday in Cho’s trial appealing the sentence, according to a Yonhap News Agency translation. “I had a concussion afterward, and I fainted and fell down during the Olympics because of that.”

Cho was first suspended in January, less than a month before the PyeongChang Winter Games, after allegations arose. Shim reportedly said Monday that, among years of abuse, Cho secretly changed her skate blades before World Cup races leading up to the Olympics to improve the chances of another South Korean skater.

“When I was in fourth grade, I suffered broken fingers after getting struck by an ice hockey stick,” Shim said of Cho, whose attorneys called her allegations “preposterous,” according to Yonhap. “Once I got into middle school, he became even more violent. He dragged me into confined spaces to beat me up mercilessly, and other athletes suffered ruptured eardrums and other injuries.

“I hope he will be punished so severely so he won’t be able to do these things again.”

Shim earned relay gold medals at the last two Olympics, plus individual silver and bronze medals in Sochi. She was the 2014 World overall champion and the overall silver and bronze medalist the last two years.

She struggled in individual events in PyeongChang. In her lone final, she was disqualified after crashing with countrywoman Choi Min-Jeong on the last lap. Shim has a best individual finish of fourth in two World Cup stops this season.

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