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Kim shows some rust, still breaks 200-point mark

South Korean Olympic champion far surpasses ISU world minimum score

Yu-Na Kim's performance in Dortmund showed a return to her old form could be imminent.
Yu-Na Kim's performance in Dortmund showed a return to her old form could be imminent. (Getty Images)

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By Klaus-Reinhold Kany, special to icenetwork.com
(12/09/2012) - For Yu-Na Kim, the NRW Trophy in Dortmund, Germany, was a complete success.

Not only did the 2010 Olympic champion win the first competition she has entered since her silver-medal-winning performances at the 2011 World Figure Skating Championships, but she earned 201.61 points en route to a 42-point win.

Most important, however, is she easily gained the 48-point technical element score (TES) she needed to qualify for entry into the world championships, notching a TES mark of 60.82 in her free skate to Les Miserables.

"During the warm-up, I was a bit afraid that I would get too nervous," a relaxed and happy Kim said. "When I came on to the ice, I felt my heart beating, but then I held my nerves under control. It was a good experience to skate at a small competition first. Now I feel better prepared for bigger competitions in the future."

After a brilliant opening combination of triple Lutz-triple toe loop, Kim hit a triple flip that gained +2 grades of execution from the entire panel.

Two more triples followed before Kim singled her first Axel and added only two single toe loops, instead of the planned doubles. She then tried a triple Salchow-double toe combination but fell on the toe.

The rest of the program was solid, including an Ina Bauer into a double Axel.

Kim may have tired a bit in the latter stages of her free, but the overall impression was superior.

"I am very happy that I could reach my goal today, which was to get at least 48 technical points," she said. "This qualifies me now for worlds.

"I had to build up my stamina from bottom, but from week to week, it is getting better. I will work now more on my spins to get the best levels. There are different rules every season, and for the spins, it is more difficult now to get the levels."

Kim's choice of music is timely, with a big-budget film version of Les Miserables, starring Hugh Jackman (a self-confessed fan of the skater) and Russell Crowe, set to open soon.

"My music does not have a concrete theme; I just play the main female character of the young girl (Cosette)," she said. "Since it was my first competition, I did not concentrate so much on the emotional aspect but more on the elements. After this competition, I will concentrate more on the choreography and the emotions."

The scores Kim posted at NRW, an international senior B event with a six-member judging panel, are not counted by the ISU for "season's best" purposes.

Nevertheless, it is worth noting that the Olympic champion's 72.27-point short program in Dortmund is the highest recorded this season, and her 129.34-point free skate is second only to the 129.84 points her longtime Japanese rival, Mao Asada, scored at the Grand Prix Final. Kim also has the highest total score this season.

"I was surprised about the high scores," she said. "I did not expect that, because I made mistakes and could not show everything I can do.

"On the first double Axel, I was out of balance, so I singled it and could add only single toe loops. On the combination, I did not concentrate enough, because I thought it is an easy combination. But I will learn from these mistakes and try to avoid them next time."

Asked whether she might consider adding a triple loop to her repertoire, Kim said only, "If there is room for improvement, I will change some jumps."

The 22-year-old skater confirmed that she plans to continue her return to competition this season, with an eye toward the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

"I will focus on Korean nationals now; it will be the first time for several years I will compete in my home country," she said. "Then I plan to go to worlds and to win a place which will allow other Korean ladies to go to the Olympics in Sochi as well. I train at home with many talents from my country."

Kim -- who trained during the 2010-11 season in California under Peter Oppegard and Karen Kwan-Oppegard, and for several seasons prior to that with Brian Orser in Toronto -- is enjoying her reunion with her childhood and junior career coaches Hyesook Shin and Jong-Hyeon Ryu in Korea.

"I like to train in my home country now and with many other Korean skaters because there I can be more relaxed and can feel at home," she said. "In the five years I was in Canada and the U.S., I felt that I was there only to train and to compete, and I missed sometimes being at home."

When reminded of her longtime rivalry with Asada, which dates back to their days as junior skaters, Kim was respectful of the Japanese skater, who placed second to her at the 2010 Olympics.

"We have known each other more than 10 years and are often compared with each other, and have often competed against each other, but when we meet, everybody concentrates more on his own competition and does not always think of the other competitors," she said. "Japan has many very good skaters."

There was a very close fight for the silver medal at the NRW Trophy. Ksenia Makarova of Russia won it with 159.01 points, just 0.08 ahead of Viktoria Helgesson of Sweden.

Makarova landed four clean triples but fell on a downgraded triple Salchow and had two other jumps marked under-rotated. As is her custom, her short program was better than her free shate.

Helgesson, too, had only three really good triple jumps in her free.

Maé Bérénice Méité of France was fourth.