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Kazakhstan’s Aiza Mambekova after her short programme.
Aiza puts Kazakhstan on Winter Olympics map in women’s figure skating

21 Feb 2018
Gangneung, Korea, February 21, 2018: Kazakhstan’s Aiza Mambekova believes her appearance at the OCA’s 8th Asian Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan, last February, played a big part in her preparations for the Winter Olympics in Korea. Aiza became the first female figure skater to represent Kazakhstan in the Olympics when she took part in the short programme at Gangneung Ice Arena on Wednesday morning.

Dressed in an eye-catching black velvet dress with sparkling head dress, the 18-year-old skater from Almaty certainly caught the eye with her costume and choice of thundering music. On completing her short programme, she clenched her fists in satisfaction with her performance.

“It was a big experience for me and my parents enjoyed my performance, so it is one of the big moments in my life,” she said. “I have been concentrating on this and working for this for many years; this was my goal.

“I was so happy because I have not been able to skate like this in the official training sessions. I broke a bone on the side of my right foot and I still have a problem, so this has been my best performance for three or four months in the short programme. I know I can do it better, next time in the future.”

Aiza, who changed her costume colour from blue with gold accessories to black just before coming to the Olympics to make a more striking impact, still has fond memories of the Sapporo 2017 Asian Winter Games, where she finished eighth.

“I really enjoyed being in Japan and I really want to go back there in the future again to Japan. I really like the people, the atmosphere; it is like another world…like, I don’t know, another galaxy. “Everything is so different and the support is very good; the Japanese fans are the best in the world. Absolutely I can say that. It was a really good experience for me.”

Aiza scored 44.40 points in her short programme and finished in bottom place of the 30 competitors. The top 24 qualified for the free skate on Friday. Her 19th birthday falls on February 25 – the day of the closing ceremony – but she will be heading home to Almaty the day before – as a Winter Olympian for Kazakhstan.

*A second skater from Kazakhstan, Elizabet Tursynbaeva, came in 15th and qualified for the free skate on Friday with 57.95 points. The 18-year-old Sapporo Asian Winter Games bronze medallist trains under the legendary coach Brian Orser in Toronto but her preparations were interrupted as she had to return to Kazakhstan for treatment on a right hip injury.
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