Golden Skate

Ando edges out Kim for World title

Miki Ando of Japan won her second title at the 2011 World Figure Skating Championships.

Miki Ando upset Olympic Champion Yuna Kim to take her second World title in Moscow, while Italy’s Carolina Kostner came from sixth to bag the bronze medal.

Performing to Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto No. 1, Ando landed five triples jumps, including two triple Lutzes, but her double Axel-triple toe didn’t happen as she doubled the toe and stumbled. Everything else was good, however, although she could have had more speed. The Japanese Champion also earned a level four for all three spins and scored 130.21 points. Overall she accumulated 195.79 points, and she earned her second World title after winning in 2007 in Tokyo.

“This was the last time to skate this program and I really wanted to show my best, but had a little mistake on my double Axel-triple toe,” Ando noted. “This time I was skating for Japan. It was a tribute to the Japanese people who suffered in the disaster. Maybe I was able to bring back a little smile to the people of Japan. I won my first World title in Japan and now my second title here in Moscow and I’m very happy about that as I consider Russia being my second home.”

Kim hit a big triple Lutz-triple toe right out of the gate and landed another triple Lutz and two triple Salchows in her routine to Korean music, but she popped the flip. This mistake made the difference. The Olympic Champion scored 128.59 and slipped to second at 194.50 points.

“At the beginning I had a mistake and I was nervous after the jump (flip),” said the 2009 World Champion, “but then I was back to normal and did my best. Today I wanted to show my new program to the audience, my fans. I was not thinking about results. I was ready to achieve my goals. I was skating to Korean music. It was really important to me and it gave me a lot of energy.”

Kim continued her impressive record of medaling in each international event she entered since starting to compete on the Junior Grand Prix in fall 2005.

Kostner was ranked sixth in the short, but she knew that she had a chance to reach the podium as the difference in points were small. The Italian turned in a flowing performance to L’Après-Midi d’un Faun by Claude Debussy. The routine showcased her elegance on the ice. The three-time European Champion hit a triple flip, a double Axel-triple toe, and three more triples, however, she singled a loop. She scored 124.93 points and took her third Worlds medal with 184.68 points.

“Yesterday I made a mistake and I was angry with myself because it cost a lot as it was short program,” said Kostner. “But today’s mistake was not so terrible as I had a chance to fix it by performing everything left properly. I competed here in 2005 and I won a bronze as well, so I can say that this is a good thing for me to compete in Moscow.”

To the delight of the home crowd, Alena Leonova gave a strong free skate to The Witches of Eastwick. As the program went on and she landed one jump after the next, the Russian grew more and more excited and radiated with joy. She reeled off a triple toe-triple toe and four other  triples, but she doubled a flip which probably cost her the bronze in the end. The 2009 World Junior Champion pulled up two spots to fourth place.

“It feels wonderful,” said Leonova. “I did everything I planned. I had a little mistake, did one double instead of triple, but it didn’t matter for me because I did everything before. I was very nervous. Already yesterday I was thinking about how will I skate after Miki Ando. She is such a good skater and performed so good this season, so I had no doubt that she will do everything. And the audience was so loud. People started to scream even before I was announced. I tried not to listen, but I couldn’t of course. But just like yesterday I tried to take their energy and use  to my advantage.”

Alissa Czisny fell on her opening triple Lutz but rallied back to complete five triples and impressed as usual with her spins.

“I was a bit nervous today but overall this season was a whole lot better than last season,” said Czisny. “I think I’ve come a long way this year. Obviously nobody expected even this (top 5 finish, her best result in 3 World Championships) for me, but I had very high expectations of myself and that drove me throughout the season. Next I’m going to do some shows in Korea (with Yu-Na Kim) which I’m excited about because I have new show programs. After that, taking a little bit of a break is in order.”

Defending champion Mao Asada was unable to recover from her subpar short program. Her triple Axel was two-footed and downgraded as was the triple toe in combination with a double Axel. She also singled a Salchow, and that left her with four triples. The Japanese only rose one spot to sixth overall.

“It has been a really difficult season for me,” explained Asada, “now I feel relieved. At this competition I tried to put out everything I am capable of. I am not totally satisfied because of some mistakes, but I think I did my best at this point.”

Russia’s Ksenia Makarova made some costly errors to plummet from third to seventh. She underrotated her triple toe-triple toe combo, fell on a cheated triple loop, and did an extra combination which earned no points. Maybe the pressure was too high, as she skated last. The disappointed skater rushed out of the Kiss & Cry and didn’t stop in the mixed zone to talk to the media.

“In my opinion, it happened because of the sixth starting number,” coach Evgeni Rukavitsin explained. “It was very difficult for her to wait so long. She didn’t have enough experience. We tried to keep her focused as much as we could, but everyone around us is talking and walking around. Her hip hurts, but this wasn’t the problem. I see a progress in her skating, but not as much as I would have liked. She does all this in training and even more. She wasn’t able to show all the stamina that we built in training.”

Kanako Murakami finished eighth. The Japanese underrotated the triple toe-triple toe as well as a loop and popped a flip, however, she landed a triple Lutz (with an edge call), a triple flip-double Axel sequence, and a triple Salchow-double loop-double loop. Overall, the 2010 World Junior Champion showed a lot of spark in her routine to The Mask of Zorro. She has an outgoing personality on the ice – different from her more introverted teammates Mao Asada and Miki Ando.

“I had more energy than I had yesterday,” offered Murakami, “but there were still some mistakes. I popped a jump and I had two underrotations. That’s a shame. I need to work on my jumps for sure, but not only on my jumps, but on everything else as well – on my skating in general to be able to compete with the top skaters.”

Finland’s Kiira Korpi  hit her triple toe-triple toe this time, however, doubled a Lutz and a Salchow and fell on a downgraded triple flip to place ninth.

“Today I just tried to forget about my yesterday’s failure,” the reigning European bronze medalist shared. “Today is a new day and I had to start from the very beginning. I made some progress this year. This year I won the Grand Prix in Paris, I won Nationals, and I improved my component score a lot.”

Elene Gedevanishvili rounded up the top then. The Georgian completed two triple Lutzes but fell on a triple toe.

“Both seasons, this and previous, were inconsistent,” confessed Gedevanishvili. “I had ups and downs, and now I work really hard on this. Now I will start to prepare for the next season. Maybe we will change some things in the way we train. I hope that next season everything will be more stable.”

Rachael Flatt faded to 12th. The U.S. National silver medalist was obviously handicapped by her injury, a stress fracture in her tibia. She didn’t try a Lutz and popped both flips.

“I’m in a lot of pain,” Flatt revealed. “I tried to do the best I could, but unfortunately it wasn’t very good. It certainly wasn’t close to my best but I tried to push through it. I only found out (about the injury) last Friday. Now I’m going to take a family vacation before I head to college.”

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