Kim Bumps Up Gold Standard
VANCOUVER - South Korea's Kim Yu-Na dazzled from the big air of her opening jumps to the blurring spin of her finish to win a historic gold medal with more record-smashing scores. Japan's Mao Asada hit her big, early jumps for silver, and Canada's Joannie Rochette skated through grief to win bronze Thursday in the finale of Olympic women's figure skating.
For the USA, 16-year-old Mirai Nagasu skated last and made the most of it, finishing fourth overall after placing sixth in the short program. Rachael Flatt, 17, placed seventh overall.
Kim, 19, who trains in Toronto under Canadian coach Brian Orser, won the first medal of any color for South Korea in Olympic figure skating.
After Kim's record-breaking point total in the short program Tuesday, the 2009 world champion's scores of 150.06 in the free and 228.56 overall obliterated her own world records (133.95 in the free, 210.02 overall).
Skating to Concerto in F by George Gershwin and wearing a bright blue outfit with a neck collar of silver sequins, Kim opened with a triple lutz/triple toe jump combination. She hit four more triples and finished with her skate held over her head in a whirring spin.
South Korean fans waved flags and roared. Dozens of teddy bears and other stuffed animals were tossed on the ice in tribute.
Japan's Asada, 19, the 2008 world champion, knew she had some catching up to do. She's one of the only women ever to do a triple axel jump, and she opened with two of them. She was downgraded on a triple flip and singled an attempted triple loop, but her score of 131.72 in the free and 205.50 overall gave her silver.
"The two triple axels I was happy with," she said. "Halfway through, I was nervous physically but stayed strong and finished."
Rochette, 24, skated four days after the death of her mother. Therese Rochette, 55, died suddenly Sunday after coming here to see her only child perform.
The crowd cheered warmly as Joannie took the ice. That turned to roars when she landed her opening jump combination triple lutz/double toe, double loop.
At the finish, she blew a kiss and took her bows. She scored 131.28 points in the free for a total of 202.64 points overall.
The USA's Flatt, 17, clinched both fists at the finish after she landed seven triple jumps, including an opening triple flip/triple toe combination. But she was downgraded by the judges on two of her triple flips and scored 117.85 in the free and 182.49 overall.
"It's still her personal best even with downgrades. She showed great poise at her first Olympic Games. I don't think she's ever been downgraded on triple flip," said her coach, Tom Zakrajsek.
Nagasu skated last in the final group by virtue of the draw. She won the U.S. title in 2008 at age 14, had a down year and then burst back onto the scene this year with a second to Flatt at nationals. She scored 126.39 points in the free and 190.15 overall to move ahead of Japan's Miki Ando into fourth.
Nagasu is coached by Frank Carroll, who coached Evan Lysacek to men's gold earlier in this Olympics. Nagasu landed six triple jumps with no downgrades.