Kagiyama Yuma (JPN) achieved a surprise win in the men’s singles figure skating on Sunday, coming from third place after the short programme to snatch gold at the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games.
Coming into the free skate, Kagiyama trailed Russians Andrei Mozalev and Daniil Samsonov. But a remarkably clean and accomplished routine, and an unfortunate fall from Mozalev, earned him 239.17 points in total and top spot on the podium.
“I’m super happy and this gives me strong confidence moving towards future tournaments,” said Kagiyama, 16. “Free skating is my favourite [programme], so I didn’t feel any pressure. I was wondering how many points I could get, but I thought I could do my best. Beijing 2022 is the target for me right now.”
Despite their disappointment, the future of Russian figure skating still seems in safe hands. Mozalev, 16, won silver and Samsonov, 14, took the bronze. In an earlier session Apollinariia Panfilova and Dmitry Rylov won the pairs in fine style ahead of compatriots Diana Mukhametzianova and Ilya Mironov.
“I did a big mistake on my axel, unfortunately, and then a small mistake after that, so I didn’t do everything I could to win,” said Mozalev of his misfortune. “But now I will work towards Beijing. This has been a good experience.”
The Lausanne Skating Arena was packed with enthusiastic supporters, and erupted at Kagiyama’s victory.
With such a loud crowd in place, the main challenge facing most of the young field was nerves.
“That is the biggest crowd I’ve ever skated in front of, by some distance,” said Liam Kapeikis (USA), 15, who finished 10th.
“For my first skate the other day in the short programme, I was extremely nervous. I think it affected me and I was a little rushy. But today, I knew what was about to happen a little bit more, so I was prepared for it, and less worried.
“It’s great to get that kind of experience, because you know that’s going to help you in the future. I guess that’s the whole point of the Youth Olympics.
“The crowd is amazing, and the best thing is that they are really positive. Whether you do a good or bad skate, they are cheering you on, and keeping everyone going.”
Nikita Kovalenko (ISR), 14, who finished 15th, had also been feeling the pressure.
“I was scared before the short programme, but today they gave me energy. They are a great crowd. I’ve really enjoyed being in front of them.”
“It stressed me out a little bit, so I tried to stay as calm as I could,” said Noah
Bodenstein (SUI), 15, who received a rapturous reception from the home crowd and finished seventh.
“Before I went out, I just put on my noise cancelling headphones to try and not listen to what was going on. That helped me focus. But once I was out there, it was really nice.”