Kim looks good as gold for free-skating program

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Kim looks good as gold for free-skating program


South Korea’s Kim Yu-na hugs coach Brian Orser after her short program during the women’s figure skating competition in Vancouver, British Columbia, Feb. 23. [AP/YONHAP]

Having cruised to a world record-setting performance in the short program, Kim Yu-na enters the free-skating portion of the women’s figure skating finals with a 75 percent chance of winning the gold medal. Since entering senior competition, Kim has placed first in the short program 12 times and she’s won nine of those events.

“I will approach the free-skating program on Friday with the mind-set of competing in a new event. I’ve done well this season so I’m confident about my chances,” Kim said in an interview.

Kim’s success rate this season has been perfect: She won all three International Skating Union Grand Prix events she entered. At the season opener, Trophee Eric Bompard in Paris, Kim placed first in the short program and in the free-skating portion of the event , setting a new world record of 210.03 points. At Skate America 2009 in Lake Placid, N.Y., Kim placed first in the short program and second in the free-skate portion to place first overall. In the ISU Grand Prix Final 2009-10, to which the season’s six best skaters were invited, Kim started off slow by placing second in the short program but went on to post the best score in free skating for a comeback win.

There are three instances in Kim’s career in which she placed first in the short program but failed to win the event.

At Skate Canada 2006, Kim received 62.68 points in the short program for the lead but placed fourth in the free-skating portion to finish third overall. At the 2007 World Championships, Kim started strong by winning the short program but placed fourth in the free-skating program to finish third overall.

Kim’s most recent loss was at the ISU Grand Prix Final 2008-09 in Goyang, Gyeonggi. She claimed the lead with 65.94 points in the short program but ended up with 120.41 points in the free-skating program to allow Mao Asada of Japan a comeback win. In fact, Kim has failed to place first only twice in the past two years, at the ISU Grand Prix Final 2008-09 and the at the 2008 World Championships in which Asada placed first and Kim third.


As projected, Asada looks to be the biggest challenge for Kim in the free-skating program. Having struggled most of the season to land her signature triple axel jumps, Asada showed up for the biggest winter sporting event with a near flawless performance of her own, earning a season high of 73.24 points in the short program.

Kim and her Japanese rival will compete one after the other again on Friday. In yesterday’s draw for order at the free-skating program, Kim and Asada switched orders as Kim drew 21st overall and Asada picked 22nd. A total of 24 skaters divided into four groups of six will compete in the free-skating program. Rachel Flatt of the United States will lead off in the fourth group with Miki Ando of Japan, Kim, Asada, Joannie Rochette of Canada and Mirai Nagasu of the United States rounding out the group.

“I’m okay with the order as long as I’m not last,” Kim said with a smile.

Kwak Min-jung, 16, of Korea drew 12th overall. Kwak scored 53.16 points using a triple lutz and double toe loop combination in the short program to finish in 16th place. As such, the youngster earned the rights to compete in Friday’s free-skating program, allotted to the top-24 skaters in the short program.

Rochette, whose mother passed away three days ago from a heart attack, skated an emotional short program to earn 71.36 points for third place.

“Two years ago, I went through a tough personal experience leading up to an international competition but I was able to overcome it. I believe she will also overcome her loss,” said Kim.

By Jason Kim, Kim Jong-ryok []
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