Nobody does it better than Kim
South Korean shines as Bond girl; Asada falters on triple Axel
|Yu-Na Kim nailed her short program to a medley of selections from the James Bond movies. (Getty Images)|
Yu-Na Kim dusted the competition, opening up a 16.44 point lead after a spectacular short program to a medley of James Bond movie themes.
"Even though this is the first competition of the season, I trained hard this summer so I could show the audience my best," Kim said through a translator. "The audience was great."
The score, 76.08, was a hair off the South Korean's record-setting pace at 2009 worlds in Los Angeles last March. But few, and certainly not many in this appreciative crowd, noticed any flaws.
Kim nailed all of her elements, including a triple Lutz-triple toe combination, triple flip and double Axel directly out of a spiral combination, with ease. Her footwork was fast and sure, in perfect time to the music's highlights. The 19-year-old even included a few flirty transition moves, playing her part as a sexy Bond girl for the appreciative audience.
"I had many ideas for music last season, but this Olympic season I had no ideas," she said. "My choreographer, David Wilson, suggested 007 James Bond. When I first heard the music I thought it was something different. David told me not many female skaters use it, so that made me happy."
Kim's coach, Brian Orser, isn't worried about his skater peaking too soon.
"She has to get better; it's only the first competition. She'll figure it out," he said.
"This time of year, judges are a bit more conservative with their component marks. At worlds, we were in the eight's for all of them. This was fine; I don't want them too high now. We'll get better as we go along."
Yukari Nakano, who placed fourth at the 2008 worlds but failed to qualify for the Japanese world team last season, was second with 59.64 points. Her teammate, 2008 world champion Mao Asada, placed third with 58.96 after popping an intended triple Axel.
"At the competition in Japan, I fell on a jump and my shoulder was injured, but I don't want to think about it," said Nakano, who had a clean outing to music from Phantom of the Opera.
"I skated first in my group, so I was able to continue to focus and do what I do normally in practice. That was a good position for me."
Skating to "Masquerade Waltz," her free skate music of last season, Asada missed her planned triple Axel-double toe combination despite landing it in practice many times here.
"I know in the short program you can't make even small mistakes, but today I made a mistake. I would like to do better in tomorrow's long," Asada said.
"I felt good [going in to the Axel], but maybe I lost some speed."
2008 U.S. junior champion Alexe Gilles stands just .74 points behind Asada after earning 58.22 for a sparkling performance to music from Johann Strauss' Cinderella Season. The Colorado Springs-based skater hit a triple Lutz, double toe combination and a triple flip.
"I was a little nervous going in, but I've been training well, and I'm excited about how high I placed," Gilles said.
"I think this program suits me really well. I've been doing a lot of run-throughs and going clean, so I'm excited to go in to the free such a close fourth."
Reigning U.S. bronze medalist Caroline Zhang also had a solid program, executing a triple flip-double toe combination and triple loop, while showing lovely extension in her spiral sequence and drawing cheers for her trademark "pearl" to Biellmann spin. She enters the free skate in fifth place with 57.26 points.