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Kim smashes record as she takes crown

Becomes the first Korean skater to win World Championship and the first female competitor to score more than 200 points   PLAY AUDIO

Mar 30,2009
Kim Yu-na wipes away a tear during the playing of Korea’s national anthem after the awards ceremony for the ladies’ competition at the World Figure Skating Championships in Los Angeles, Saturday. Kim received the gold medal in the ladies’ competition. [AP]
She was elegant and graceful in her performance. But the Korean figure skater Kim Yu-na was merciless on her competition.

Kim became the first Korean to capture the International Skating Union World Figure Skating Championship title yesterday in Los Angeles, finishing with an all-time best score of 207.71 points to win by more than 16 points.

Kim, 18, is the first female skater to score more than 200 points in the new ISU judging scale.

The runner-up, Joannie Rochette of Canada, had 191.29 and Miki Ando of Japan, the 2007 world champion, had 190.38 in third place.

The day clearly belonged to Kim, who beamed after seeing her final score and waved to the crowd that gave her a standing ovation.

“Being the world champion was my dream and I did it here,” Kim said. “It’s just amazing.”

But what was really amazing was her free skating. To Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade,” Kim nailed five triple jumps, including a triple-flip-triple toe loop combination that set her off on a fine start.

Kim did have a botched triple salchow attempt late in her routine, when she only managed a single rotation.

Still, her 131.59 points in free skating was enough to give her the coveted world title and a piece of history.

“Even with my mistake, I was able to get the 200 points,” Kim said. “I didn’t really want to think about the score because it gives me pressure. I don’t know if I will be able to maintain such a high score but it was a good experience to surpass the 200 mark.”

Kim had been the bronze medalist in each of the past two world championships, each time battling nagging hip and back injuries.

But after this resounding victory, Kim is the early favorite for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver next February. “Now I plan to practice for the Olympics,” Kim said. “Next year is the most important one.”

Mao Asada, the reigning world champion from Japan, was considered Kim’s main rival heading into this year’s event. Kim beat Asada to the Four Continents title in February, while Asada edged out Kim for the ISU Grand Prix Final crown.

But this week, Asada, like others, posed no threat to Kim and even failed to make the podium.

Asada was more than 10 points behind Kim in third place after the short program and let Ando zip past her to take the bronze yesterday. To make ground, Asada attempted two triple axels, considered the most difficult jump for female skaters. She landed the first one cleanly but fell on her second attempt.

“It is very regrettable that I fell,” said Asada, the first woman to attempt two triple axels at the worlds. “I think [Kim] is a very good rival for me. She motivates me.”

At the medal ceremony, Kim shed tears at the top of the podium as the national flag Taegeukgi was being raised to the national anthem.

Kim said she had held back tears whenever she heard the anthem in the past, but this was a different occasion.

“I’ve been waiting for so long to win the world title,” Kim said. “I just couldn’t help it.”


By Yoo Jee-ho [jeeho@joongang.co.kr]


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