Thursday, 21/6/2018 | : : UTC-7
Skate Today

Kim Sparkles in the Short

The noise was deafening as reigning Grand Prix Champion Yu-Na Kim took to the ice in her home country of Korea. It was standing room only. Flags were waving everywhere. You could hear a burst of shutters on cameras go off with every step the Korean took.

Kim became an icon in the country when she became the first figure skater from Korea to medal at an ISU championship. She won silver at the Junior World Championships in 2005. Since then she has brought the eye of the figure skating world to her native land.

She has won numerous international titles including Junior World Champion in 2006 and a bronze medal at the World Championships in 2007 and 2008, and of course two Grand Prix titles as well.

The Korean from Gunpo City produced an effortless program to the music “Danse Macabre” by Camille Saint Saens.

The Koreans roared as she nailed her opening triple flip/ triple toe, and then a gasp from the audience when the Korean popped her next element — a planned triple Lutz into a single.

Not to worry as she quickly recovered and managed an easy double Axel. Her non-jumping elements were very strong as well earning a level four for her spins and level three for her step sequences.

Anticipation and excitement filled the rink as the eighteen-year-old executed each element. She was smoothe as silk as she sailed through the program with great speed.

It was the first time the teen competed in a major international championship in her home country. She was hoping for a perfect performance. On this day it was not perfect, but still magical and good enough for first place with a segment score of 65.94 points.

The reigning World bronze medalist was edged on the technical score by Asada by .20 points but Kim overtook Asada on the component marks by.76 points. The youngster who was born in Gyounggi-Do, Korea, was buried in a sea of over 500 stuffed animals and countless flowers as she took her final bows.

“I didn’t think that I would be nervous, but in fact I was,” Kim stated. “The timing on the Lutz wasn’t so great. However, the other things, the combination, the spins, the spirals were very strong, and I was satisfied with that. Everything else except for the Lutz was very strong and that’s why I got this result.”

World Champion Mao Asada skated fourth and delighted the Koreans with her gentle and elegant short program to “Claire de Lune” by Claude Debussey . The program was strong, but not perfect as the teen received a downgrade on the back-end of her triple flip/triple loop combination. The eighteen-year-old Japanese Icon nailed the triple Lutz that followed along with a double Axel from a spread eagle. Her non-jumping elements earned high levels; as well as, all positive GOE’s. Mao maintained great speed and flow throughout the program. Her choreography was stunning and was set in place by coach and choreographer Tatiana Tarrosova. The youngster splits her training time between Toyota City, Japan (a suburb of Nagoya) and Moscow, Russia. It was another great performance for the Japanese placing her second with 65.38 points.

“As I didn’t have any problems with the jumps, I think that I skated quite well today, and that this will last till tomorrow as well.” Asada told the press. “Actually I don’t care too much about it, (the downgrade on the triple combination) and just try to jump higher in the future.”

With the face of a porcelain doll, this 23-year-old from Yokohama, took to the ice with determination in her “Romance from the Gadfly” short program. Her opening triple flip/double toe combination was steady, but she received and an edge watch and negative GOE’s on the triple flip. Her next jump a triple Lutz also received negative GOE’s. Her double Axel was very strong for which she earned GOE’s as high as +2. Yukari along with Russian Liudmila Nelidina were only the second female skaters to land a triple Axel in competition (first was Midori Ito at the 1992 Olympic Games) when they landed it ten years later at Skate America in 2002. Nakano highlights her program with outstanding spins with wonderful variations in position. All were level four except for the layback spin which received a level three. Her total of 62.08 points was commendable, especially in light of the groin injury and ankle injury she has been struggling with.

“I ask myself if that wasn’t the best short program of the season,” Nakano shared. I didn’t do anything special, but I have been training very well since then and today’s performance is the result of my training.I think there is still something that I can improve on my jumps. I’m in Korea for the fist time in four years and the atmosphere was different from what I expected.”

Representing Italy Carolina Kostner ran into problems on her upbeat program to selections by Omette Coleman and Scarpino and Calderella. The World Silver Medalist fell on the landing of the triple flip/double toe combination and received negative GOE’s on the next element the triple Lutz. Her speed was outstanding and her double axel was steady-as-a-rock. The Italian was exquisite as she pranced down the ice on her level three straight line steps displaying wonderful variations in levels and positions. Kostner placed third last season at the final in her home town of Torino. Her current placement is fourth with 55.88 points.

“It is really a shame. I really would like to go back and have another look at it!” I’m happy about the triple Lutz because in practice, when I mess up the first jump, I often pop the Lutz.”

Skating first, 2007 World Champion Miki Ando returns to Goyang City after placing third at last season’s Four Continents Championships. The Japanese who struggled with injuries last season appeared healthy and fit. Currently training in Hackensack, New Jersey under the tutelage of Nikolai Morozov. The Japanese performed with more expression and emotion in her short program set to the music from Memories of a Geisha (soundtrack) by John Williams. Ando started skating at the age of nine and was the first and only woman to land a quadruple (Salchow) jump when she did so at the ISU Junior Grand Prix Final in 2002. She under-rotated and fell on the triple Lutz on the planned triple Lutz/triple loop combination but rebounded with a nice triple flip and a double Axel. Unfortunately, the mistake cost her dearly, and the Japanese skater from Nagoya, tumbled to fifth place with 55.44 points.

“It is a long time ago, since I skated first, and I think this is the reason why I was so nervous,” Miki told the press. In addition, it is kind of a habit of me to always think of not falling during the jumps. However, this time I was rather thinking of giving a nice performance as there were also many people from Japan in the audience.

Four-time Canadian Champion Joannie Rochette is making her second appearance at the final here in Korea. She has had a spectacular season winning her first event in her own country of Canada and then again two weeks later in France. Her sultry “Summertime” short program has been a crowd favorite and the Koreans were no exception. The twenty-two-year-old from Ile, Dupas, Quebec stepped on the ice and appeared composed and in control. That quickly changed when she doubled her combination jump which was a planned triple flip/triple toe, and later in the program she doubled a planned triple Lutz, as well. The Skate Canada and Trophee Bompard Champion racked up 50.48 points and will enter the free skate in sixth place.

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