Kim holds off Asada to take ladies gold

Savchenko and Szolkowy win pairs title

Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy won the pairs title from Turin, Italy.
Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy won the pairs title from Turin, Italy. (Getty Images)


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By Klaus-Reinhold Kany, special to
(12/15/2007) - Yu-Na Kim won the ladies competition by five points, although she was only second in the free program. She had high scoring elements and easy-looking jumps with an elegant landing phase, which are deliciously placed between her exquisite choreography and transition moves. She flowed and flew over the ice like a feather.

Her first element in the long program to music of "Miss Saigon," a triple flip-triple toe loop combination, got nine +2s and one +3. Her only mistake was when she fell on the loop. But later, she added four good triple jumps and very good spins.

She told the press afterwards, "I was the last skater and very nervous. My score was close to my best, so I am pleased with that. This year, my body is healthy, and I can do a clean program."

Mao Asada took silver with the best free program. She is focusing more on her program components than in previous years, but her jumps are no longer as stable as two years ago. Four times in a row she missed her trademark combination in the short program. But in the free program in Turin to music of Chopin, she landed all her jumps, including a triple Axel at the beginning and two triple-triple combinations. Only the Lutz was jumped off from the wrong edge. Three of her four spins had level fours.

After her skate, she commented, "To skate right after the warm-up wasn't too bad because my legs were moving very well. When I finished my program I felt so emotional and pleased that the tears flowed."

To the delight of the 7,000 spectators in the Olympic rink, Carolina Kostner of Italy won the bronze medal. Five triples were good and safe, but she singled the flip and stepped out of the double Axel at the end.

Caroline Zhang of the United States also performed a good free program, including four good triple jumps. However, her Lutzes were jumped from the wrong edge, and she fell on the second one. This was the only jump which was downgraded.

She said, "I made some mistakes today, but I am happy anyway. I'm the youngster skater here, and for me just to participate is important. In the future I'll do better. I'm just 14, and I've time to improve."

Kimmie Meissner finished only sixth overall behind Yukari Nakano after she fell on one flip and two Lutzes. She has had problems with the edge on her toe jumps since this new rule came into existence, and she tried to re-learn these jumps. In order to add more difficulty, she improvised and included a triple toe loop after the double Axel, but it was downgraded. Two triples and a double Axel were clean however. She puts more strength on her artistic side than before and has worked hard in the summer to improve her skating skills, interpretation and transitions. Therefore, she got relatively good program components, although she looked disappointed already during her free program.

"I don't know why I fell. But to be here in Turin is fantastic. this ice and audience are very nice. When I skated that the people liked my Italian music 'Nessun dorma' and this is important for a skater," she said afterwards

Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany won the pairs competition easily. They sometimes lack consistency in the solo jumps. This time, Savchenko doubled the Salchow and Szolkowy the second toe loop in the jump sequence. But they made that up on execution and originality. Their look is sparkling, and their choreography always offers surprises for the spectators. Many elements and steps of this team are big and innovative because nobody has done this before. Their components for the interpretation of their relatively quiet and difficult music, "L'oisaeu" from the Cirque de Soleil, received an average of 8.50 points, and even two 8.75s, a score that pair skaters have never received. Their best element was the triple throw flip, which received nine +2s and one +3. All their lifts and spins got level fours and many plus points. They got a huge applause by the Turin public who knows them well, since they were in the same rink in a gala there recently.

Savchenko afterwards said, "I felt this was the most difficult competition of the season. It just felt hard to skate."

Szolkowy added, "But it is a great feeling to win. I don't think about the mistake now, but I know that there is room for higher marks."

Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang of China were second with many strong elements, but also three mistakes. Hao singled the Axel in the jump combination and touched with both hands in the triple toe loop. They also had to shorten the last lift after some shaky moments. But their throws and twist were excellent. Although they are not related to each other, they skate like brother and sister and not like a couple.

Hao said later, "We are disappointed that we made mistakes but hope to skate better the next time."

The second Chinese couple Qing Pang and Jian Tong was third. They also made a few mistakes. He touched down his hand on the triple toe loop, and she lost balance during the death spiral. But their style is quite elegant.

Canadians Jessica Dubé and Bryce Davison were fourth with many good but not spectacular elements. Their only serious mistake was a fall on the throw triple Lutz.

Yuko Kawaguchi and Alexander Smirnov of Russia finished fifth. They tried a quad throw Salchow, but she fell.

Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker from Colorado Springs were forced to withdraw before the free skate. The official communiqué said that Brubaker's cellulitis in his left foot became so severe that they could not skate their free program, but some believe he has tendinitis in that foot.