Kim leads with record score at Worlds

Yu-Na Kim (16) of South Korea leads after the ladies' Short Program at the 2007 World Figure Skating Championships.

The 2007 ISU World Figure Skating Championships continued Friday with the Ladies Short Program.

The 45 skaters were divided into two groups and a draw was made according to the ISU World Standings.

The top 24 skaters from the short program will advance to the Free Program.

Yu-Na Kim of South Korea placed first with a new personal best of 71.95 points for her routine to Tango de Roxanne from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack.

It should be noted that Kim’s score is currently the highest score for a ladies’ short program under the new judging system.

The 16-year-old interpreted the drama and passion of the tango with an intensity and maturity beyond her age, opening with a beautiful high triple flip-triple toe loop with excellent speed carried out of both jumps. A little balance check while stroking into her level 4 spiral sequence didn’t faze her, and she went on to execute a huge death drop sit spin which displayed excellent speed and position variations.

Kim’s excellent triple Lutz earned her +GOEs from the judges, and her level 3 straight line step sequence was completely in character of the music.

Showing off a very flexible back, the 2006 World Junior Champion produced a beautiful level 4 layback spin, followed by a double Axel with an ‘Ina Bauer’ entrance for which she was awarded a rare +3 GOE (Grade of Execution) from one judge. Her very fast level 4 combination spin brought the audience to their feet.

“I am very happy to achieve a new personal best at my first worlds despite a mistake on my spiral sequence,” said Kim. “I still had a back pain at the beginning of this championship, but it gradually went away and now I feel OK. I was surprised with such a high score, but I don’t know what will happen tomorrow. I will just do my best for my free skate.”

“It wasn’t a special incident that has caused this [back] injury,” explained Kim, “but my program has a lot of burden on my lower back. All the fatigue has accumulated on this injury. I also have an injury on my tailbone. It’s not completely recovered yet, so I have to be careful with my skating.”

Japan’s Miki Ando finished second, also surpassing her personal best with a score of 67.98 points in her routine to Scheherazade by N. Rimski-Korsakov.

Focused and determined as if she were on a mission, Ando opened with a triple Lutz-triple loop combination that was done with excellent height, as was the triple flip from footwork. The music softened as executed her layback spin that, while beautiful, was only graded a level 2. Encouraged by the cheers from the crowd, the 19-year-old then completed a double Axel and a level 4 spiral sequence.

A level 4 flying sit spin was followed by an explosive level 3 straight line footwork sequence and the Japanese silver medalist concluded her program with a fast combination spin which brought a roar from the audience and a huge smile to her face. All elements received +GOEs from the judges.

“My morning practice was not so good,” explained Ando. “I was nervous during the 6-minute warm-up, but after the triple lutz-triple loop combination, I felt really good and started to enjoy performing.”

“Since I had a shoulder injury at Japan Nationals and a boot problem after that, I couldn’t practice as much as I wanted,” Ando continued, “but I am very happy to achieve my new personal goal today. I heard the cheers from the audience and it was really encouraging. I will have fun and show what I can do for my free program tomorrow without thinking about the result.”

The lyrical piano of Canon by Pachelbel was beautifully interpreted by Italy’s Carolina Kostner as she flew effortlessly across the ice with confidence. The European champion also earned a new personal best (67.15 points), placing third after the short.

Knocking out the jump elements early, Kostner executed a smooth and easy triple flip-triple toe loop combination, a triple Lutz, and a double Axel. The level 3 circular footwork sequence was ‘one with the music’ and interpreted perfectly. The Italian Champion’s level 4 flying camel spin showed excellent extension, and was followed up with a level 4 spiral sequence which displayed deep edges.

Although the combination spin had it good positions, it traveled which resulted in the only -GOEs Kostner received. A level 3 layback spin, which showed an almost flat back, concluded her program and the 20-year-old received a standing ovation from the audience.

“Today I was a lot more nervous (than at the European Championships), just because of the environment and atmosphere,” said Kostner. “I knew everybody here is strong and well prepared, and I had lost two months of my preparation (due to an injury in the fall). It’s just good now to do a good competition here; that was important to me.”

“I did not even get to go back to Italy since then,” said Kostner when asked what she did after Europeans. “I wanted to go back to Oberstdorf right away. First, because I had to go to school, and second because the hype in Italy wouldn’t have been the best for me right now. My mother told me everybody was celebrating, and I’m glad I was able to make them happy. But now I wanted to make them happy again with a good result, and because of that, it was better for me not to go home for now.”

USA’s Kimmie Meissner currently sits in fourth with a new personal best of 64.67 points after skating a solid routine to Snow Storm by G. Svinidov.

The US champion opened with a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, followed by a triple flip from footwork, a level 1 layback spin, a double Axel, and a level 4 flying sit spin which was entered with a series of butterflies.

Meissner’s level 4 spiral sequence carried good speed throughout, and her level 3 straight line step sequence was musical but seemed a little slow across the ice. The 17-year-old closed her lyrical program with a combination spin showing nice position variations.

“I feel really, really good,” said Meissner, “and I’m glad I did my triple-triple combination. I’m very happy to have gotten my personal best, and I’m excited since it was the best of the year.

“To skate a clean free, I’ve been training really hard this season and I want to give it my all,” said Meissner when asked about her plan for tomorrow.”The crowd is so great out there, and I want to perform my best. I was pretty nervous out there today, but I love doing the free, and I think I’ll feel a lot better tomorrow.”

One could feel the tension in the arena as Mao Asada of Japan took her opening pose. Her skate to Nocturne by Chopin was light and delicate, but also showed power.

Asada’s opening triple Lutz from footwork brought cheers from the crowd, but gasps when she landed awkwardly on a triple flip and singled the loop of the combination jump. The 16-year-old showed good speed and nice extension on her level 4 spiral sequence which was followed by a very good double Axel.

With the crowd roaring with each element completed, Asada then produced a lovely level 3 combination spin, a musical straight line footwork sequence which exhibited lovely edges and speed, and a flying sit spin entered from a death drop. A gorgeous layback ending in a Biellmann position, although only a level 2, concluded the program to a standing ovation.

The Japanese champion was disappointed with herself for the mistake on the triple flip-triple loop combination.

“I don’t know what happened to me,” said Asada. “I was nervous during the 6 minute warm-up, but I was ok when I started the short program. Now I understand how it is on the ice. I will do the triple Axel tomorrow and will catch up with the top skaters. Then I want to win a gold medal.”

USA’s Emily Hughes came in sixth with a new personal best of 60.88 points for her routine to Carmen.

The 18-year-old opened with a triple flip-double toe loop combination, followed by a triple Lutz with a wide swinging free leg on the landing. She went on to produce a level 4 a spiral sequence and a level 4 combination spin which was well done with good speed and positions.

After landing a double Axel, the US silver medalist showed excellent back position in a layback spin which transitioned easily to a Biellmann, followed by a dynamic and expressive straight line footwork sequence, and a level 4 flying sit spin.

“My goal here was to get a personal best and to do a clean program so I am very happy!” exclaimed Hughes.

When asked about skating after the Japanese the ladies, Hughes replied: “Oh, I thought it was amazing because the fans were so excited from them and I felt great out there. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Yukari Nakano of Japan placed seventh with a new personal best of 60.62 points for her routine to music from the Memoirs of a Geisha soundtrack.

The 21-year-old began with a triple Lutz-double toe loop, followed by a triple flip and a fast combination spin with good positions. She continued with a level 4 spiral sequence, a great layback spin, a straight line footwork sequence which had good speed and flow, and a double Axel.

The crowd roared as the Japanese bronze medalist ended her routine with a flying camel spin which had a sustained donut position.

“I did what I could do,” said Nakano. “So, I am very satisfied with my performance tonight. I did not do any major mistakes; that makes me very happy. I did not do good on the practice during this week, but I skated well. If possible, I would like to do a triple Axel [tomorrow], but I have to see how I feel.”

Hungary’s Julia Sebestyen skated with joyful determination in her routine to Serenade by Franz Schubert which featured a high triple flip from footwork and double Axel; however, the 25-year-old put a hand down on the first jump of her triple Lutz double toe loop combination. Nevertheless, she executed a good spiral sequence and spins, as well as a level 3 circular footwork sequence which had the crowd clapping.

The Hungarian Champion ended her routine with a nice combination spin in which she held the camel position for more than the required 3 revolutions, placing eighth with 59.98 points.

“After the free program of the European championships, I was a little bit sad, of course, because I know that if I do well I could always be on the podium,” said Sebestyen. “I think today’s performance was very good. After everything – winning one grand prix and the disappointment of the Europeans – I am glad that I could skate well today. That’s the most important thing for me.”

Performing to Concierto de Aranjuez with excellent interpretation, Sarah Meier of Switzerland landed a high triple Lutz-double toe loop combination, but had a flawed landing on her triple flip. Despite the mistake, the European silver medalist otherwise produced three good spins and a double Axel, placing ninth with 58.52 points.

“Today’s performance wasn’t perfect,” admitted Meier. “I was a little shaky at times, and my Axel wasn’t great, but as far as my marks are concerned I am satisfied. In the free program I will attack again. I wanted to do really well, because the European championships were good, but I also want to move up world-wide.”

Finland’s Susanna Poykio showed good speed and flow in her routine to One by Apocalyptica, landing a double Axel, a triple Lutz-double toeloop and a triple flip. The 2007 Nordics Champion also produced a good spiral sequence and straight line footwork sequence which moved well with the music. However, she finished behind the music which resulted in a time deduction, placing tenth with 57.16 points.

“I was afraid not to complete the rotations of the final spin and I tried to do it faster, but I was still too late,” explained the Finnish Champion of the timing deduction. “Without this mistake, I probably would have improved my personal best a little bit.”

Russia’s Elena Sokolova and Arina Martinova are currently in 11th and 12th place, respectively.

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