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Riku Miura’s decision to pick pairs skating over singles has proven to be an astute one as she and her on-ice partner Ryuichi Kihara became the first Japanese athletes to qualify for the Beijing Winter Olympics.

Miura and Kihara, the only Japanese skating pair competing in Beijing, emerged as surprise contenders for a pairs medal and “Team Riku-Ryu,” as they are known at home, hope to give fans some late drama before the Chinese capital closes the curtain on the Games.

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