Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara “We showed our worst performance at Worlds, but it’s precisely because we failed that we decided to continue.”
Interview with Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara. About Olympics, last season’s Worlds, winning the GP Final and goals for the season.
What kind of year was it when you looked back at 2022?
Riku Miura: The Beijing Winter Olympics were held, so from January to March of last year, things flowed at a tremendous speed.
Ryuichi Kihara: You were quick.
Riku Miura: It was really fast. Thankfully, both of us were busy during the off-season. Then my injury (a dislocated left shoulder) kept us from skating together for a few months. But from the first competitions of the season, I think we were able to show our performance.
Ryuichi Kihara: After the Olympics, I felt a little burnt out. However, I felt frustrated at the end of the season, so I think it was a good motivation for this season.
During the off-season, I was invited to ice shows, so I was really busy.
Riku-chan’s injury itself wasn’t a good thing, and I’m grateful that we can skate together and be able to compete. I felt so grateful. But I think it was a good thing in terms of spiritual growth as well.
When you say frustration, do you mean the silver medal at the World Championships in March last year?
Ryuichi Kihara: That’s right. I really gave my worst performance of the season…
Riku Miura: It was the only time we scored less than 200 points (a total of 199.55 points). I messed up in that last performance. But on the other hand, it’s precisely because I failed that I decided to definitely do it for the next season.
Ryuichi Kihara: I think it was good. If I had succeeded in that, I probably wouldn’t have practiced.
How hard was it to maintain your motivation after the Beijing Winter Olympics?
Riku Miura: The Olympics were the peak. It was really surprising how my condition fell after the Olympics were over.
Ryuichi Kihara: My motivation has gone down all at once. After all, I came with the goal of doing well in both the team and individual events at the Olympics, so it felt like I had lost my goal for the season, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get back on track.
The two of you are entering your fourth season together. What season would you choose as a turning point?
Riku Miura: I think the second season, the World Championships (Stockholm) in March 2021.
Ryuichi Kihara: (Due to the spread of the coronavirus), we were stuck in Toronto for a year, and we didn’t show up at all.
At the World Championships, I performed for the first time in about a year (the result was 184.41 points, 10th place), but there was something that made me think, “Oh, I’ve gotten so many points.”
Certainly, that was a turning point for us. “If you continue like this,” my coach said, “maybe you’ll be in the top 10 at Worlds, maybe even higher.”
So, Ryuichi is also Worlds in Stockholm for you?
Ryuichi Kihara: Hmmm… But there are more.
Riku Miura: Certainly (laughs). There are so many.
Ryuichi Kihara: NHK Trophy in November 2019, a few months after we teamed up. This made me think, “If things go on like this, the Worlds will come into view little by little.”
The second is Stockholm. And the third is the Autumn Classic in September 2021.
We were able to surpass 200 points for the first time. Among us, there was a common understanding that a pair with a total of over 200 points was the world’s top pair. We got over 200 points in that competitions, so we realized that we’re growing.
Was it the score you were aiming for from the beginning?
Ryuichi Kihara: No. At the national competitions I scored 65.82 points in the short program (SP) and 130.83 points in the free program, exceeding 190 points in total. At the World Championships in Stockholm, I scored 120.04 points in the free skate, so I was surprised to see an improvement of 10 points in just three or four weeks. So I set a goal of “I want to score 200 points next season,” and I was able to achieve it.
Tell us about the GP Final.
Riku Miura: I felt pressure in every program, but it was my first appearance in the Final, and I would finally face the skaters who did not participate in the GP series with us, so I felt the tension.
Ryuichi Kihara: I was really nervous about the Final… Or rather, it was the first time I felt nervous. I didn’t have any experience with the Final before, so I was extremely nervous.
Which one made you more nervous, the GP Final or the Olympics?
Ryuichi Kihara: The GP Final. The Olympics were calm.
Riku Miura: Truly, Ryuichi was so nervous that he didn’t speak so much that it felt like I was seeing him for the first time. I was told, “I’m doing imaginary training, so don’t talk to me for a minute.”
Ryuichi Kihara: Even though I was concentrating, I was talking about something useless (laughs).
Riku Miura: We were on the bus going to the venue on the day of the free program. I usually have a conversation, but I don’t have one. We were silent until we arrived at the venue. So I said, “Huh? It’s not the usual Ryuichi-kun.” It was the first “silence.”
Ryuichi Kihara: But I have been nervous once, so I’ll be fine next time. I expected that it would be close at the Final, so I thought that I couldn’t make a mistake. I pushed myself a little too hard.
Having experienced the Final made me feel so much better. I understand very well what kind of tension you feel.
Please write your goals on this colored paper.
Riku Miura: Should I write “2022”?
Ryuichi Kihara: It’s “2023”. You don’t have to repeat 2022 (laughs). You’ve done your best, Olympics.
The goals that Riku-chan wrote are always achieved, so let’s make the goals that Riku-chan wrote.
Then why didn’t you write “total 220 points”?
Ryuichi Kihara: Yes (laughs). This season’s best is 78.25 points in SP (at the NHK Trophy last November) and 141.04 points in the free program (at the Beijing Winter Olympics). The total is 216.16 points (of the NHK Trophy). I haven’t made any mistakes in the free program this season, so if I can deliver a good program, I think I can achieve this goal.
There will be a World Championships held in your country this year.
Riku Miura: At the past two World Championships, we haven’t been able to perform to our complete satisfaction. We want to do our best so that we can show our best performances this season.
Ryuichi Kihara: At the past two competitions, I wasn’t able to perform as I envisioned. I want to give my best performance.
! Please take into account that interview was translated via machine translation so it may not be completely accurate or conveying all the details and nuances. !
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