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Kim edges Asada in short program

Little more than half a point separates top two

Yu-Na Kim won the ladies short program despite not turning in her best performance.
Yu-Na Kim won the ladies short program despite not turning in her best performance. (Getty Images)

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By J. Barry Mittan, special to icenetwork.com
(12/12/2008) - To no one's surprise, Korea's Yu-Na Kim won the short program at the SBS ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Goyang City, Korea, but the margin of victory was slight.

Kim, who is trying for her third straight title at the event, scored 65.94 points, well below her season best, with her program to Saint-Saens' "Danse Macabre".

Although Kim landed a beautiful triple flip-triple toe loop to open her program, she popped a planned triple Lutz, then completed a double Axel.

"I didn't think that I would be nervous, but in fact I was," Kim said. "The timing on the Lutz wasn't so great. But the other things -- the combination, the spins, the spirals -- were very strong, and I was satisfied with that. I missed some jumps in the short program last season, so I have some experience how to recover."

She was closely followed by rival Mao Asada of Japan, the 2005-06 GP Final winner. Asada, skating to Debussy's classic "Clair de Lune" was only 0.54 points behind Kim with 65.38 points, a season best. She completed a triple flip-triple loop combination to start her short program, but the second jump was downgraded. Asada later landed a triple Lutz and a double Axel. She finished with a full Biellmann spin.

"As I didn't have any problems with the jumps, I think that I skated quite well today, and that this will last until tomorrow," Asada said.

Referring to the downgraded triple loop, she added, "I don't care too much about it and just try to jump higher in the future."

Japan's Yukari Nakano, a top-five finisher at the last three world championships, was in third position after scoring a season-high 62.08 points with her program to "Romance" from Shostakovich's "The Gadfly." She included a triple flip-double toe loop combination, triple Lutz, double Axel and a beautiful layback spin with a full Biellmann.

"I ask myself if that wasn't the best short program of the season," Yakano said. "I didn't do anything special, but I have been training very well and today's performance is the result of my training."

Italy's Carolina Kostner, the 2008 European ladies figure skating champion, placed fourth with 55.88 points skating to "Mujer Sola" and "Canaro en Paris". Kostner took the bronze medal in last year's Final. She fell on the opening jump in her triple flip-triple toe combination but completed a triple Lutz and a double Axel later in the program.

Referring to the triple flip, Kostner said, "It is really a shame. I really would like to go back and have another look at it. I'm happy about the triple Lutz, because in practice, when I mess up the first jump, I often pop the Lutz. It's still a shame about the combination, because I get many points for it, and it was very consistent in practice. I guess I just didn't push through enough."

Miki Ando of Japan, the 2007 world champion, was close behind in fifth place with 55.44 points after her short program to music from the motion picture soundtrack of Memoirs of a Geisha. She fell on the first jump in her opening triple Lutz-triple loop combination but then completed her triple flip and double Axel.

"It is a long time ago since I skated first," Ando said. "I think this is the reason why I was so nervous. It is a kind of habit of me to always think of not falling during the jumps. But this time, I was rather thinking of giving a nice performance as there were also many people from Japan in the audience.

"As there is nothing to lose tomorrow, I'm tempted to try the quad Salchow," she continued. "But when I talked to my coach, he advised me not to do so. Nevertheless, with the new music, and as it doesn't matter if I fall or not, I want to present a strong performance without playing it safe."

Canada's Joannie Rochette, who won two Grand Prix events, was in sixth place with 50.48 points, well below her season best. Skating to Gershwin's "Summertime," she started with a double Axel, then doubled both jumps in a planned triple flip-triple toe combination and finally popped her triple Lutz.