Yuma Kagiyama made an impressive start to the season with a convincing victory at the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating in Courchevel, France.
The 16-year-old Japanese star-in-the-making triumphed in both the short program and the free skate totalling 234.87 points, more than 34 points ahead of nearest rival Aleksa Rakic from Canada who tallied 200.71.
Russia's Andrei Kutovoi finished third on 198.06 points.
Beyond the scores, the Japanese teen sensation was fun and fluid on the ice, enjoying his routines and giving the impression that this could be a big break-out year for him.
“My goal this season is to win the Japan Junior Championships,” Kagiyama said before the tournament, “then I can go to the world junior championships and the Youth Olympic Games [At Lausanne 2020].”
After his free skate he doubled down on those goals in his post-competition interview.
Kagiyama, who is coached by his dad - two-time Olympian Masakazu Kagiyama, landed two perfectly executed quads and a triple Axel during his free skate routine to conclude a strong opening statement at figure skating's curtain raiser.
Valieva’s short program “Girl on the Ball”, so beloved by Eteri Tutberidze, failed at the stage in Courchevel. Camila did not complete the cascade and fell from the triple lutz. As a result - an intermediate third place. In the free program, Valieva also did not show perfect skating - falling from a triple flip. But even this shortcoming did not prevent the 13-year-old Russian woman from becoming the winner of the first stage of the Grand Prix. Perhaps this victory will be the starting point of Valieva to something more important.
This quadruple toe loop is officially the best in history. Kamila was given the highest mark for him - five points. The Austrian referee Edith Schiller, who, along with the Russian woman, entered the history of world figure skating, was distinguished by generosity. Before Valieva, no one in the world received the maximum mark for the quadruple jump, and therefore did not set it. And not everyone can jump it. Perhaps, along with Kamila, they can be performed by Alexander Trusov and Anna Shcherbakova. But these girls in the new season appear at the adult level, where rivals are higher than the level, and there is more passion.
Definitely, Valieva is currently the most important talent of Russian figure skating. In addition to the amazing technical base, Kamila has excellent choreography and a sense of ice. The 13-year-old athlete, like everyone at her age, is modest, and, it seems, does not yet know what it costs.
“Of course, I could have done a lot better, but overall I am satisfied. To get a quadruple sheepskin coat, I said to myself what needs to be done to successfully complete it. I went to him like in training,” Valieva said after the tournament in Courchevel, where she received 200.71 points in the sum of two programs.
Valieva has a worthy rival
In Courchevel, Kamila's main rival was a compatriot and teammate, Maya Khromykh. But after the first place in the short program, Maya did not cope with the excitement in the free program and took the final third place, letting Korean Yong Yong go ahead.