Olympics: Miyahara Readies For Medal Shot Ahead Of Free Skate

Olympics: Miyahara readies for medal shot ahead of free skate

Within striking distance of a medal on her Olympic debut, Japan's Satoko Miyahara put finishing touches to her preparations for the women's free skate at the Pyeongchang Winter Games on Thursday.

The only skater wearing her costume, a shimmering blue number, as the rest of the final group were decked out in black training gear, Miyahara rehearsed her free program to Madame Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini.

The petite 19-year-old from Kyoto, nicknamed "Tiny Queen", fell on a triple salchow in an otherwise clean skate during the 40-minute session on the main rink at Gangneung Ice Arena.

"I feel great," Miyahara said with a smile as she passed waiting reporters without stopping to take questions.

Miyahara goes into Friday's free skate buoyed by a personal best score in the short program.

The four-time defending national champion scored 75.94 points on Wednesday to sit in fourth place 2.93 points behind third-place Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada.

"I've finally scored 75 points," Miyahara, whose previous best was 74.64, said after the short program.

"I was waiting for the score to come up thinking 'come on, please be 75 or above.'"

"Obviously, I would be very happy if I get a medal but I am not thinking about that," said Miyahara. "What is more important to me is to show in my performance how hard I have been working."

Olympic Athlete from Russia Alina Zagitova set a short program world record of 82.92 points to take the lead, breaking the previous world mark that compatriot and world champion Evgenia Medvedeva had just minutes earlier.

Medvedeva (81.61) is in second place behind her 15-year-old training partner. Japan's Kaori Sakamoto (73.18) is in fifth.

Sakamoto looked sharp in practice but also did not offer anything of substance to the waiting media pack. "I'm in good shape. Will give it my best shot," she said as she scuttled through the mixed zone.

The 17-year-old, who like Miyahara is also a first-time Winter Olympian, took a pragmatic approach when asked about her medal prospects after lodging a personal best score in the short skate.

"I reckon only about 20 percent," said Sakamoto. "I am not really at the level yet where I can take on the skaters at the top and it is all I can do to win the battle with myself."

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