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Figure skating: Japan’s Yuma Kagiyama aiming high under new coach Kostner

Beijing Winter Olympic silver medalist Yuma Kagiyama is looking to add a different dimension to his figure skating with the help of new coach Carolina Kostner.

The 20-year-old skater made a convincing return to the Grand Prix circuit over the weekend after missing the entire 2022-2023 season with an ankle injury, taking men’s bronze at the Grand Prix de France.

Japanese figure skater Yuma Kagiyama (L) and coach Carolina Kostner are pictured following the men’s free skate at the Grand Prix de France in Angers, France, on Nov. 4, 2023. (Kyodo)

Former European and world champion Kostner was by his side at Angers ICEPARC after joining his team earlier this year. The 2014 Sochi Olympic women’s bronze medalist had been advising Kagiyama before he asked her to officially come on board.

Kagiyama’s father Masakazu remains his jumping and technical coach, while Kostner is working on choreography and artistic expression.

“I want to improve in the areas where I’m still lacking,” said Kagiyama, who is aiming for the top of the 2026 Olympic podium in northern Italy, from where Kostner hails.

Japan’s Yuma Kagiyama performs during the men’s short program at the Grand Prix de France figure skating competition in Angers, France, on Nov. 3, 2023. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

The 36-year-old Kostner said Kagiyama’s Grand Prix comeback highlighted the skater’s strengths along with areas where improvement was needed.

“Today it may be the knee action, tomorrow it may be the bodyline, the posture. There is so much you can work on and I’m sure that Yuma can improve even more,” Kostner said.

“The amazing part is that (his father) has given him such a fantastic basis from childhood. And he is really building on that.”

Kagiyama’s next Grand Prix stop will be on home ice at the NHK Trophy in Osaka later this month.

Kostner said her focus for the remainder of the season would be on the development of Kagiyama’s skating rather than his competition results.

“He is very hard working, he is very focused, and he is also learning how to bring his own personality into his skating, which makes it very special,” she said.

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