To say Yuma Kagiyama's win at the Four Continents Championships in Shanghai on Saturday, February 3 was impressive would be a massive understatement. The 20-year-star confirmed he is all the way back from the ankle injury that cost him almost the entire 2022-23 season.
Kagiyama's margin of victory over compatriot Shun Sato, the second-place finisher, was nearly 33 points and totaled 307.58 points. That number was not far off Kagiyama's personal best of 310.05, established when he claimed the silver medal behind Nathan Chen at the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
More importantly, Kagiyama was able to attempt three different kinds of quadruple jumps (flip, salchow, toe loop) in his free skate to "Rain, In Your Black Eyes." He will need those if he is to challenge Shoma Uno and American Ilia Malinin for the world title in March.
When Kagiyama took the silver at the Olympics, he landed two quad toe loops, a quad salchow, and was a quarter rotation short on a quad loop in his free skate.
Since his injury, he has relied on just the toe loop and salchow, which were the only two quads he tried in the free skate at this season's Japan Championships in December 2023. He was second behind Uno there.
"I scored more than 300 points for the first time since the Olympics," Kagiyama stated after the win in Shanghai. "Last year I was unable to participate at the Four Continents as I was injured. Coming back, I made progress step by step."
Success at Four Continents Motivates Kagiyama to Keep Improving
Kagiyama noted that he has to continue raising his game going forward.
"At this Four Continents, I successfully executed three different quadruple jumps," he commented. "This performance has motivated me to aim for even higher scores and technical proficiency in the upcoming seasons.
"However, whether I can win the championship next time with a score of 300 remains to be seen. I understand the importance of continuously improving my technical skills."
Despite his highly successful career, it is interesting to note that the win at the Four Continents was Kagiyama's first ever in an ISU Championship event. He had previously finished second four times ― once at junior worlds, twice at senior worlds, and third at the 2020 Four Continents.
With this season's world championships in Montreal set to get underway on March 20, Kagiyama appears to be peaking at just the right time and should give both Uno and Malinin a real challenge for the gold there.
Continue reading the full story on SportsLook.
- [JAPAN SPORTS NOTEBOOK] Yuma Kagiyama Triumphs at the Four Continents
- Mone Chiba Wins Gold at Four Continents; Rinka Watanabe Claims Bronze
Author: Jack Gallagher
The author is a veteran sports journalist and one of the world's foremost figure skating experts. Find articles and podcasts by Jack on his author page, and find him on X (formerly Twitter) @sportsjapan.