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Kim rebounds to win gold in Tokyo

Ando wins silver; Wagner moves up to fourth

Olympic champion Yu-Na Kim has assembled an all-star cast for her "All that Skate" show.
Olympic champion Yu-Na Kim has assembled an all-star cast for her "All that Skate" show. (Getty Images)

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By Alexandra Stevenson, special to icenetwork.com
(12/05/2009) - As Yu-Na Kim built her run of four straight event wins, setting and breaking new world records, she could count on her short program to give her breathing room even if a blade slipped in the free.

Tonight, her free skate to Gershwin's "Concerto in F" returned the favor, helping the South Korean edge out Miki Ando.

Kim's troublesome triple flip, the jump that has failed her so often in recent weeks, returned, although she reduced her usual triple Lutz, triple toe loop to a triple, double and a triple toe, done in combination with a double Axel, was downgraded.

"It's enough; you did the flip, and two [triple] Lutzes," Kim's coach, Brian Orser, told her in the kiss and cry area.

It was, but only just. Kim earned 123.22 for her free, well off her personal best, and 188.86 overall, taking the title by 2.92 points.

It was sweet redemption after losing this event last season in Korea to another Japanese skater, Mao Asada, who did not qualify for the Grand Prix Final this season.

Skating to a medley of the Marco Polo and Troy soundtracks -- she calls it her "Cleopatra" program -- Ando played it safe, reducing her opening triple Lutz, triple loop combination to a triple, double. This may have cost her gold.

The powerful jumper, who landed a quad Salchow back in 2002, had her triple version of that jump downgraded, proof that under this demanding judging system almost no one's jumps are safe.

Ando earned 119.74, also well off her best, and 185.94 overall.

The surprise of the season, Japan's Akiko Suzuki, continued her successful fall, gaining 116.46 for her energetic program to music from West Side Story. She took third in the free and moved up from fifth overall to win bronze with 174 points.

Ashley Wagner, who placed fourth at the 2009 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, improved from sixth and last place after the short to fourth overall.

The American included six triples in her program, choreographed by Irina Romanova to Borodin's "Polovetsian Dances," although her second flip was downgraded and her Lutz had an edge call. She earned 107.81 in the free and 162.07 overall.

Pumping her first and shouting "yes!" as she came off the ice, Wagner was obviously pleased with her performance.

"I felt I held myself back a little in the short," she said. "I wanted to let go more in the free. That was my major goal. There was overall improvement even though I still have some work to do."

Canadian world silver medalist Joannie Rochette's disappointing free dropped her to fifth place. World junior champion Alena Leonova of Russia was sixth.

Lynn Rutherford contributed to this article.