Golden Skate

Kim captures first Grand Prix Gold

South Korea’s Yu-Na Kim captured her first senior Grand Prix gold, while Miki Ando of Japan won the silver. USA’s Kimmie Meissner, who was fifth at this event last year, settled for bronze.

Short Program

Kim opened her program to El Tango De Roxanne with a solid triple flip-triple toeloop combination, followed by a good level four spiral sequence, a level four flying sit spin, and a huge triple Lutz. The current World Junior Champion also produced a beautiful level three layback and a solid double Axel to earn 65.22 points (personal best) for a first place finish after the short.

“I was nervous and my warm up wasn’t so good,” revealed Kim. “I don’t see a big difference,” the three-time and reigning South Korean National Champion added, comparing her Skate Canada performance with this one. “The technical score was almost the same, but the program component score here was higher.”

Ando landed a good triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination, a triple flip, and a double Axel in her routine to Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. The 2004 World Junior Champion also produced a good level four spiral sequence, a good straight line step sequence, and two good level four spins to earn a score of 65.02 points for a second place finish after the short.

“I felt so nervous,” said Ando, “but I made no mistake and I’m very happy about that. After Skate America, I [spent a week in Canada] and [then] I came to Paris one week before the event. So I have no jet lag.”

Canada’s Joannie Rochette delivered a good routine to Little Wing by Jimi Hendrix which included a solid triple flip-double toeloop combination, a triple Lutz, and a double Axel. The two-time and current Canadian National Champion also two level four spins and and a nice layback, but received a deduction for a time violation. Nevertheless, the Olympian placed third in the short with a new personal best of 58.92 points.

“I’m proud of this performance,” said Rochette. “It was better than at Skate Canada. There is still lot of room for improvement, technically. I got a deduction at the end. I held the positions in the last spin to get the level. I have to fix that when I get home.”

Meissner fell on her triple Lutz (which was supposed to be in combination with a double toeloop) and placed fourth with 52.56 points.

Anne Sophie Calvez of France was fifth with 50.96 points (personal best), while USA’s Christine Zukowski finished sixth with 47.04 points.

Long Program

Kim skated to The Lark Ascending for her long, nailing her opening triple flip-triple toeloop combination, followed by a very good double Axel-triple toeloop combination, a very good layback spin, and a triple Lutz. The current Junior Grand Prix Final Champion also delivered a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination and a double Axel, but then stepped out of a triple Salchow and fell on a double Axel. Despite the mistakes, the 2006 Skate Canada bronze medalist produced a good level three straight line step sequence, a good spiral sequence, and good spins, earning 119.32 points (personal best) for a first place finish in the long and overall (184.54 points).

“I was nervous,” said Kim, “but I’m happy to have won in spite of my mistake.” The 16-year-old added: “I just wanted to skate without pressure. I was more nervous than at Skate Canada, because ¬†some well known skaters competed here.”

Skating to Mendelssohn’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in E minor op. 64, Ando fell on a triple Lutz, but recovered to land a triple Salchow and a triple flip. The two-time Japanese National Champion also executed a triple Lutz-double loop combination, a triple toeloop-double loop-double loop combination, a triple flip-double loop combination, and a double Axel. The 18-year-old also displayed a difficult spiral sequence and good spins to earn 109.42 points for a second place finish in the long and overall (174.44 points).

“I was overwhelmed by how nervous I was,” confessed Ando. “My warm up went well, but it was difficult to come back after the fall on the triple Lutz at the beginning. ” The 2006 Skate America Champion added that when she came to this event, she had the Grand Prix Final in mind. “I trained it [the quad Salchow] this summer and I’ve landed it successfully in practice. Now I have time [before] the [Grand Prix] Final and I want to practice it. I don’t know yet if I [will] put it into the program.”

Finland’s Susanna Poykio stood in eighth after the short, but rallied back with a good skate which included a five triple jumps (three in combination with double jumps), a double Axel, a level four spiral sequence, and three level four spins. The 24-year-old earned 105.87 points for third place finish in the long, and with a total of 148.81, moved up to fifth overall.

Meissner, who stood in fourth after the short, landed a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination, but fell on a triple Axel attempt and popped her toeloop (in a triple flip combination) and landed on two feet. The current World champion placed fourth in the long (105.47 points) but managed to grab third overall with a total of 158.03 points.

“Obviously my program wasn’t so great,” said Meissner, “but I’m happy about trying the triple Axel, [landing] the two Lutzes, and the overall result.” The 17-year-old added: “It went better than last year. The triple Axel was very good in practice and in the warm up today, so my coach and I decided when I land the triple Lutz-triple toe to go for it.”

Rochette, who stood in third after the short, fell on a triple flip and singled three other jumps. The 2004-05 Grand Prix Final bronze medalist placed fifth in the long (92.60 points) and slipped to fourth overall (151.52 points). The 20-year-old was fourth at this event last year as well.

Italy’s Valentina Marchei finished seventh overall (129.73 points), followed by Zukowski (123.59 points) and Calvez (123.26 points).

Kim pocketed 15 points to add to the 11 from Skate Canada for a total of 26 points.

Ando had 15 from her Skate America win and earned 13 more (28 points total) at this event, ensuring a spot at the upcoming Grand Prix Final.

Meissner added 11 points to the 13 (24 points total) she earned at Skate America.

Rochette now has 9 points to add to the 15 from her win at Skate Canada for a total of 24 points.

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