(Reuters) – Japanese 16-year-old Rika Kihira clinched victory at the figure skating Grand Prix final in Canada on Saturday, capping off a brilliant debut season on the international circuit.
She took a big lead into Saturday’s free skate in Vancouver after posting the highest score (82.51 points) of the season in the short programme.
Kihira then recorded the best score in the free skate, despite a fall, to easily beat Olympic champion Alina Zagitova.
Kihira posted a total score of 233.12 for her third grand prix victory of the season.
Russian Zagitova, last year’s grand prix champion, finished second on 226.53 points.
Compatriot Elizaveta Tuktamysheva was a distant third on 215.32 points.
Kihira said her long-term goal was to win gold at the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
“Ever since I was a child I’ve dreamed of going to the Olympics,” she said via an interpreter.
“I have this dream of going to the Beijing Olympics and winning there.”
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Peter Rutherford)