Home Figure Skating News Yelim Kim edges out Levito for narrow lead

Yelim Kim edges out Levito for narrow lead

by Judith Dombrowski
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South Korea's Yelim Kim

South Korea’s Yelim Kim performs her short program at the 2023 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships.

2023 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships
Women’s Short Program

South Korea’s Yelim Kim edged out USA’s Isabeau Levito for a narrow lead in the short program at the 2023 Four Continents Championships on Thursday afternoon. Teammate Chaeyeon Kim is currently in third in what is proving to be a very tight field. With mere points separating the top six skaters, we can expect an exciting free skate tomorrow.

Yelim Kim, the defending bronze medalist, earned a new season’s best of 72.84 points for her routine to Max Richter’s “Mercy.” She opened with a beautiful triple Lutz-triple toe combination and went on to land a clean double Axel and triple flip. She received a level four on two of her spins and her step sequence, while her final spin earned a level three.

The 20-year-old was happy with her short program and pointed out that her key to success was probably her very consistent hard training. She admitted that the altitude in Colorado Springs tired her a bit, but also added that she had specifically worked on her stamina in preparation for the event.

“I hope I won’t be too nervous,” said Kim of her upcoming free skate. “I hope to just have a clean skate and I will try not to think too much about the final result!”

Levito scored 71.50, just 1.34 points behind Kim, after delivering a clean short program. The newly-crowned national champ earned positive grades of execution (GOE) on all her elements, including a triple flip, double Axel and triple Lutz-triple toe combination. She was also rewarded with level four on all of her spins and steps. Nevertheless, the skater received a one-point deduction for a time violation.

“I didn’t yet have the time to reflect on my performance, but for the most part, I am satisfied,” said Levito. She added that she had learned a lot from U.S. Nationals two weeks earlier.

Chaeyeon Kim had competed on the Junior Grand Prix circuit this season, culminating in a bronze at the Junior Grand Prix Final in December. In her debut at this event, she earned a new personal best of 71.31 points. The 16-year-old landed all of her jumping passes flawlessly, including a triple Lutz-triple toe combination, double Axel and triple flip. She impressively earned a minimum of +2 on all of her seven elements, while receiving a level four on all of her spins and steps.

“I am very happy I skated clean today!” the relieved teenager said in the mixed zone. “I didn’t expect such a high score. I was very nervous ahead of my first big senior competition! For the free program, I want to do my best and skate a perfect program.” She also shared that her idols include Yuna Kim and Yuzuru Hanyu.

Chaeyeon Kim earned the highest technical score of the day with 39.46 points.

USA’s Amber Glenn is in fourth place after the short program, very well within reach of the medal positions with a personal best score of 69.63. The only mistake of her powerful routine to “Hit the Road Jack” was a hand down on her last jumping pass, a triple loop. She didn’t expect such a high score.

“I didn’t feel as energetic as I wanted to be,” the 2022 Skate America bronze medalist explained. “It was a great crowd and I wanted to be able to absorb that, but wasn’t really able to do so. I hope to be able to do that a bit better at Worlds.”

Nevertheless, Glenn was positively surprised that the judges awarded her efforts. She plans to include a triple Axel in her free program tomorrow.

Teammate Bradie Tennell sits in fifth place after earning a season’s best of 69.49. The 25-year-old has been on hiatus after recovering from injury, and first competed this season at the Grand Prix events in Sheffield and Espoo. In her routine to “Michigan 7,” she slightly underrotated the back end of a triple Lutz-triple toe before landing her triple flip on the quarter. The rest of her program was clean, and she racked up many GOEs for her level-four spins and footwork.

“I think every time I go out there, I am getting a little better,” said Tennell. “I was a little stiff today, but I am proud of myself and so grateful to be here.”

She admitted that she has more appreciation for herself since coming back from her injury, stating that she values more what she achieves.

“I haven’t competed at Four Continents since 2020,” said Tennell, when asked about pressure coming into the event. “Experiencing this event in my home country is really exciting for me!”

South Korea’s Haein Lee is currently in sixth place with a season’s best of 69.13 points, a mere four points behind her leading teammate Yelim Kim. Lee received an edge call on her triple flip and the back end of her triple Lutz-triple toe was landed on the quarter. The rest of her routine to Eric Radford’s “Storm” was solid.

“I only got a level three on my step sequence, and I am a bit disappointed with that,” said Lee. “Overall, I am really pleased as I did no major mistake.”

Japan’s Mone Chiba (67.28) and teammate Rinka Watanabe (65.60 points) are in seventh and eighth place, respectively. Both are still in reach of the medal positions. Watanabe plans to include a triple Axel into her free skate tomorrow. In the short program she underrated and stepped out of the jump.

Canada’s Madeline Schizas (60.11) and Japan’s Hana Yoshida (59.82 points) round out the top 10.

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