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Rio Nakata Battles Back to Finish 5th at the Winter Youth Olympics

South Korea's Hyungyeom Kim wins the men's gold at the Winter Youth Olympics on home ice. Nakata rallies from 13th place after the short program.



Winter Youth Olympics
Rio Nakata in a December 2023 file photo. (KYODO)

Read the full story on SportsLook - Rio Nakata Battles Back to Finish 5th at the Winter Youth Olympics

Two days after his calamitous short program, Rio Nakata rebounded with an energetic free skate on Monday, January 29 to climb from 13th place and finish fifth at the Winter Youth Olympics at Gangneung Ice Arena in South Korea.

The 15-year-old Nakata, who entered the competition as the favorite, was more than 20 points behind leader Jacob Sanchez of the United States after the short program. But Nakata dug deep as the second skater on the ice and posted a score of 142.70 points (second best in the free skate) that gave him a total of 198.29.

South Korea's Hyungyeom Kim vaulted from third after the short program to win the gold with a total of 216.73, edging out Slovakia's Adam Hagara by just half a point. Hagara took the silver with 216.23, while New Zealand's Yanhao Li claimed the bronze at 208.84.

Sanchez tumbled from the lead after a rough free skate and wound up fourth on 200.28, while Haru Kakiuchi was seventh with 185.88.

Winter Youth Olympics
Winter Youth Olympics men's singles champion Hyungyeom Kim in a file photo. (ISU)

Home Crowd's Support Energizes Kim 

Kim, who came in second behind Nakata at the Junior Grand Prix Final in December 2023, rose to the occasion in front of the partisan home crowd and landed a quadruple toe loop and four clean triples on the way to victory. The 17-year-old from Seoul earned level fours on all of his spins in his skate to "Requiem for a Dream."

"I was very nervous today but I'm happy that I could produce a clean and good free skate," Kim was quoted as saying by Olympics.com.

Continue reading the full story on SportsLook.



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.

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