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Kim takes home the gold

Posted by Scott Thurston, Globe Staff  February 25, 2010 09:49 PM

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- South Korea's Kim Yu Na, skating with the weight of a country on her tiny shoulders, delivered a superb performance and ran away with the gold before a packed Pacific Coliseum.

Kim landed a beautiful triple lutz/triple toe opening combination that set the tone for her skate, which resulted in a world-record score of 228.56 -- a personal best by more than 18 points.

She became the first reigning world champion to win Olympic gold since American Tara Lipinski in 1998.

"I can't believe it,'' said Kim, 19. "I did my performances very clean. I don't know why I cried. This is the first time I have cried after my performance and i'm surprised I cried.''

Japan's Mao Asada took the silver with a 205.50, and Canadian Joannie Rochette won bronze (202.64) and the admiration of all those who watched,

"I feel proud and the result did not matter,'' said Rochette, skating just days after the death of her mother. "I'm happy to be on the podium. It was a lifetime project for me and my mom, and we achieved that.''

US teenager Mirai Nagasu turned in an excellent effort for a girl making her world debut and climbed from sixth after the short program to finish fourth. Teammate Rachael Flatt finished seventh.

"I think my best years are yet to come,'' said Nagasu. "At 16, you don't have the experience and the maturity that they [the medalists] skate with, so hopefully I will. I just thought about how I wanted to get here. It's been my dream since i was a little girl.

"I'm sorry I wasn't able to keep the USA trend of making the podium. I hope I can make it up at the next Olympics.''

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Update, 11:41: Rochette brings the Canadian crowd to its feet. Despite staggering out of the triple flip and skipping the late double axel, a very credible performance, especially in the wake of her mother's death. Blowing kisses to her mother in the kiss-and-cry.Should be good for bronze, unless Mirai Nagasu has a perfect skate.

If she makes the podium, it's the first medal by a Canadian woman since Liz Manley's silver in 1988 in Calgary.

Update: 11:37: Even with the two triple axels, which might have been downgraded for incomplete rotations, the double-footed triple flip on the triple-double-double combination and the singled triple loop did Mao Asada in. Canadian favorite
Joannie Rochette is next.

Update, 11:29: A superb skate under great pressure. Hitting the triple-triple was vital and landing the flip was key. If she wins, she'll be the first reigning world champion to win Olympic gold since Tara Lipinski in 1998. Bet the house.

The gold medal could be decided in the first 30 seconds. Asada has to hit both triple axels to have a chance and even then it might not be enough.

Update, 11:23: Kim Yu Na is next. She had a lead of nearly 5 points over Mao Asada after the short program but has a less demanding free skate since she doesn't do a triple axel. Her most difficult element is in the beginning -- a triple lutz-triple toe combination. But her next jump -- the triple flip -- may be trickier. She fell on it at Skate America, where Rachael Flatt beat her in the long program.
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Update, 11:13: Miki Ando of Japan is up next. She is a former world champion and the reigning bronze med\alist. Since she's more than 6 points behind Joannie Rochette in fourth, she'll need a near-perfect performance to move up because she has the easiest program of the contenders......

Nice program by Ando, but she lost some points by doing the triple loop instead of the flip and had to fight to land the triple toe. Since Rochette's planned jumps are more then 3 points higher, it'll be a stretch to medal.

Update, 11:11: Rachael Flatt of the US begins her program at precisely 11:06 and turns in a typically rock-solid skate She'll get a 10 percent bonus for her final seven jumps because they came in the second half of her program. The performance will put substantial pressure on Miki Ando and Joannie Rochette to perform cleanly.....

The marks are in and she was hit with downgraded scoring, probably for trouble with the first lutz. She sits in second.

Update, 10:22 p.m.: The planned program and song for the top six, with a couple of things worth noting. Japan's Mao Asada, in second place, will open with a triple axel and a triple axel/double toe combination. None of the other five will attempt a triple axel, rarely seen in women's skating.. However, the triple LUTZ/triple toe combination is worth more than Asada's triple/double combination, and the triple FLIP/triple toe combo is worth just as much. Got it?


RACHAEL FLATT, US (Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini)
Double axel
Triple flip/triple toe
Triple lutz
Flying camel spin
Change foot upright spin
Triple loop
Triple lutz/double toe
Spiral sequence
Triple flip/double toe/double loop
Triple salchow
Circular step sequence
Flying change foot combination spin

MIKI ANDO, Japan (Cleopatra)
Triple lutz/double loop
Triple salchow/double axel sequence
Triple flip
Change foot combination spin
Spiral sequence
Triple lutz
Triple salchow
Flying sit spin
Triple toe
Double axel/double loop/double loop
Straight line step sequence
Flying combination spin

KIM YU NA, South Korea (Concerto in F, Gershwin)
Triple lutz/triple toe
Triple flip
Double axel/double toe/double loop
Flying combination spin
Spiral sequence
Double axel/triple toe
Triple salchow
Triple lutz
Straight line step sequence
Double axel
Flying sit spin
Change foot combination spin

MAO ASADA, Japan (Bells of Moscow, Rachmaninoff)
Triple axel
Triple axel/double toe
Triple flip/double loop
Flying sit spin
Spiral sequence
Triple loop
Triple flip/double loop/double loop
Triple toe
Double axel
Flying combination spin
Straight line step sequence
Change foot combination spin

JOANNIE ROCHETTE, Canada (Samson and Delilah, St. Saens)
Triple lutz/double toe/double loop
Triiple flip
Triple loop
Flying change foot sit spin
Spiral sequence
Triple lutz
Triple toe/triple salchow sequence
Double axel/double axel sequence
Change foot combination spin
Triple salchow
Circular step sequence
Flying sit spin

MIRAI NAGASU, US (Carmen selection)
Triple lutz/double toe/double loop
Double axel/triple toe
Triple flip
Flying sit spin
Layback spin
Spiral sequence
Triple lutz
Triple loop/double axel sequence
Double axel
Triple toe
Straight line step sequence
Change foot combination spin


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VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- They're underway in the women's free skate at Pacific Coliseum, but the final group -- the top six after Tuesday's short program -- won't take the ice until after 11 p.m. EST. So if you're only into watching the medal contenders, feel free to tune into your other prime-time shows and check back here,

Our resident expert on figure skating and everything Olympic, John Powers, will be providing instant analysis at the end of each four-minute routine..

Here's the order in which the podium hopefuls will skate:

Rachael Flatt, US (fifth after short program) at 11:06
Miki Ando, Japan (fourth) at 11:13
Kim Yu Na, Korea (first) at 11:21
Mao Asada, Japan (second) at 11:29
Joannie Rochette, Canada (third) at 11:37
Mirai Nagasu, US (sixth) at 11:45

We'll post the planned routines for each skater shortly.

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