Kim takes gold in record-breaking fashion
South Korean amasses record point total on way to win
|Yu-Na Kim seeks to maintain the torrid pace she's set after earning a world record 207.71 points winning the world title in March. (Getty Images)|
Even though the world champion amassed a record-setting 210.03 points here in Paris, surpassing her previous personal best of 207.71, she didn't do it without one glitch.
Performing to Gershwin's Concerto in F, Kim opened with a spectacular triple Lutz, triple toe, worth 12 points. Her next element, a triple flip, was a non-starter; she just skated right through.
"When I prepared for the flip I felt something on the ice, and my body was shaking a little bit," she said.
It didn't matter much. The rest of the program, including three other triples and five elements that gained Level 3s and a Level 4, did the trick. The South Korean still won the free with 133.95 points, some 18 points over the field, and got her new world record.
"When I looked at the score for the free skate, I was surprised, because I had a new personal best [total] at the first competition of the season," she said.
While the self-effacing 19-year-old is trying to take one competition at a time, she admitted she was pointing toward the Vancouver Olympics.
"Finally I can go to the Olympics; the last time [in 2006], I was too young," Kim said.
"I have to dream about going to there. I did quite well last season and this season has started well, so I feel confidence."
Mao Asada fought back after a disappointing short to place second in the free take the silver medal with 173.99 points overall.
The three-time Japanese champion opened with a fine triple Axel, double toe combination, but faltered on her second Axel attempt. Another of her triples, the loop, was downgraded, as were double loops in one of her triple flip combinations.
"This season my goal is to do three triple Axels at each competition," Asada said. "At this competition I could succeed with one triple Axel, this was a first step, but the next competition for sure I would like to succeed with a triple Axel in the short program."
Asada's music, Rachmaninov's "Bells of Moscow," is so heavy-handed that it rings in the ear well after the last note is struck. The skater explained that this was intent of her coach and choreographer.
"This season I had two choices of music," she explained. "One was light, bright and happy, and this one was very heavy and powerful.
"I tried this music and I felt very powerful and strong. I tried the other one and it was too light. I decided this heavy music maybe suits me, and also Tatiana Tarasova likes this music."
Asada's teammate, Yukari Nakano, won bronze with a solid outing to Firebird. She opened with a fine double Axel, double Axel sequence and hit four triples, but had her triple Lutz and triple Salchow jumps downgraded.
"I'm happy that I could get on the podium, but I had some serious mistakes," Nakano said. "I realize every element is so important that I can't make even a small mistake."
The skater added that she plans to include her triple Axel in her free program at her next competition, the NHK Trophy.
Performing to Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker, U.S. bronze medalist Caroline Zhang turned in an elegant performance that put her fifth in the free and fourth overall with 153.15 points.
It also gave the ambitious 16-year-old a lot of food for thought.
"There are many things I can do to improve," Zhang said. "I want to focus on getting my jumps a lot more consistent and improve my speed for [my next event] Skate Canada. I also want to work on my triple-triple again."
Like Asada and Nakano, two of her Zhang's jump elements -- the triple Salchow and triple loop -- were downgraded to doubles. She also received an edge ("e") call on her triple Lutz, which likely cost her two points.
"A few of the calls, I was surprised at," Zhang said. "I want to look at the video. There was one Level 1 [flying] sit spin and the two downgrades. It was a four-triple program, versus my usual seven-triple program. I want to make sure I change things so a strict caller can't downgrade."
Skating a charming routine choreographed by Catarina Lindgren to music from On the Town, 2008 U.S. junior champion Alexe Gilles placed seventh in the free with 93.70 points. She was fifth overall with 151.92.