Monday, March 30, 2009

South Korean Kim Yu-Na wins 2009 women's figure skating championship - shattering the record

The 2009 World Figure Skating Championships concluded with the Ladies Long Program.

It wasn't a competition. It was a coming out party, and all of the other skaters were invited as guests. Korea's Yu Na Kim did not give another skater even a whisper of hope in this competition, and she ran away with the gold medal with a new world record score as well as the largest margin of victory by a lady at the World Championships.

"This has been a dream come true for me," admitted the two-time bronze medalist turned champion. "I have been dreaming of this happening since I was a little girl, and now it came true."

Kim entered the freeskate with an eight-point cushion over Canada's Joannie Rochette, and she left the ice with a 16-point lead over the silver medalist. Her competition total of 207.71 points marks the first time any lady has surpassed the 200 point mark since adopting the code of points.

"I never focused on hitting 200 points," Kim said rather philosophically. "It was more important to take each element at a time, and make sure that I was giving the best performance that I could. I felt that if I could do that, then I might be able to become World Champion. I stayed focused on what I had to do, and won the gold medal."

Kim opened with her trademark triple flip-triple toe loop, and landed a total of five clean triple jumps in her "Sheherazade" program, but the program was not without mistakes. Kim doubled an intended triple salchow in the middle of her program, and had her final combination spin scored as an invalid element earning the champion zero points.

"We changed the spin after the Four Continents to get a level four," Kim explained. "It is my fault that I did not have it checked to make sure that it was correct before I came here."

The ISU rules state that a skater must do three spins in the freeskate; a flying spin, a spin with no change of position, and a combination spin. Kim completed a flying spin and two combination spins, therefore receiving no credit for her final element. Still, it was Kim's night, and the audience at the Staples Center was clearly on her side from the start.

"There were so many Korean fans in the audience tonight," Kim said proudly. "But the American fans also supported me. I felt like I was skating at home, and that made me confident to do my best."

Kim is the first Korean skater to win the World Championships, and now heads into the Olympic season as the clear-cut favorite.

"I have not started thinking about the Olympic season yet," Kim admitted. "I had to focus on doing my best here, and I can start thinking about the Olympics tomorrow."


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