Yuna Kim closed the world figure skating championships with a sensational bolt of electricity on Saturday night, dominating the ladies’ competition so thoroughly that she left her next competitor more than 20 points in the dust.
The South Korean skater, competing internationally for the first time in two years, seemed to be skating on an entirely different planet from every other woman, as she riveted the audience at Budweiser Gardens in a flawless free skate, seizing her second world title. The 22-year-old star proved she hasn’t lost any of the elegance, skill or impeccable poise that made her an Olympic champion in 2010, scoring an eye-popping 218.31 overall points.
The victory sets her up as the undisputed favourite for gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
“I did my best so I knew my score would be high, but I didn’t think it would be that high,” said Kim.
Last year’s world champion, Carolina Kostner of Italy, took the silver medal with 197.89 points, while Japan’s Mao Asada earned bronze with 196.47.
Kaetlyn Osmond, the rising 17-year-old star from Marystown, Nfld, finished eighth with 176.82 points. She had shimmied her way into fourth spot in Thursday’s short program, and earned a spot to skate her long program in the final flight.
This season, Osmond, who trains at rink inside the Edmonton Mall, went from competing in and winning her first Grand Prix and national championship events at the senior level, to finding herself in the same final flight with the finest in today’s ladies skating.
Costner, who skated through a nosebleed, soldiered through her program, singling a planned Triple loop, and then falling on her closing triple Salchow. Asada was the only woman in the competition slated to attempt a Triple Axel, but she didn’t fully rotate it.
The Canadian came out popping before a boisterous flag-waving crowd. She was all dark eyes and red lipstick, smiling, nailing her early triple jumps, and drawing in the crowd with shimmying shoulders and hips to her Carmen-inspired program. But the youngster came undone in the middle of the program, falling on two jumps, stepping out on another. Tired, she kept getting back up, reeled in her program full of challenging elements and finished with her signature teen smile.
Osmond’s finish inside the top 10 secured berths for two Canadian women to compete at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
“I learned a lot from this competition and from being in front of a crowd like that and on the ice with so many top skater. It made me think that next time it happens I won’t be so shocked and excited about being there. I’ll probably be more calm,” said Osmond. “I had a little thought of a possible medal in my head, but I put it out of my mind and focused on my goal, which was top 10.”
But it was Kim who brought the house down. Yuna herself wondered aloud if she was prepared coming into the competition, having only competed in South Korean nationals in advance. The question seemed laughable on Saturday night, as she landed stunning triple-triple and combinations, floated through unworldly step sequences and sent shivers down the spine with her poise.
“Next Olympics, I will do my absolute best, but I won’t concentrate on results,” said Kim, who said that tactic suited her well this week in London. “Because if I feel the pressure, I may not be able to deliver such top results.”