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FIGURE SKATING

Kim Yu-Na wins women's title at Four Continents figure skating event

The South Korean skater's artful program, rebounding from a fall on a triple loop jump, takes first in the competition at Vancouver.

February 07, 2009|Helene Elliott

VANCOUVER, CANADA — Resplendent in red and gold and resilient after falling on a triple loop jump early in her free skate program Friday, Kim Yu-Na of South Korea won the women's title at the Four Continents figure skating championships.

In the process she made it clear that reigning world champion Mao Asada of Japan will have a tough time defending her title next month in Los Angeles.

Kim regrouped after her tumble and presented her "Sheherazade" program artfully enough to win with 189.07 points. She got a standing ovation from the crowd of nearly 10,000 at the Pacific Coliseum, the venue for the Vancouver Olympic figure skating competition a year from now.

"I tried to be really healthy and do a very good performance here in Vancouver," said Kim, 18. "I'm so happy."

Joannie Rochette of Canada was second with 183.91 points. Asada moved up from sixth after the short program to third overall with 176.52 points, boosted by a powerful triple axel she landed moments after she had "popped" her first triple axel and did only a single.

Caroline Zhang of Brea, whose third-place finish at the U.S. championships was one spot too low to make the world team, gained some consolation by beating the women who had finished ahead of her.

Zhang, 15, earned a season-best 113.06 points for her long program and a total of 171.22. Rachael Flatt of Del Mar, slow on her spins and not as solid on her jumps as usual, was seventh with 162.83. U.S. champion Alissa Czisny two-footed the landing of a jump and wasn't sharp, dropping her from seventh to ninth with 159.81.

Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the U.S. won the ice dance title in an upset, passing their suburban Detroit training mates, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada, with an emotional and fleet-footed free dance to "Samson and Delilah."

Davis and White finished with 192.39 points, 0.58 more than Virtue and Moir. The Canadians won silver at last year's world championships but were slowed this season by Virtue's double-leg surgery in early October.

Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates finished third with 180.79 points, 11.60 behind Davis and White.

The competition ends today with the men's free skate. Canada's Patrick Chan leads, followed by Evan Lysacek of the U.S. and Takahiko Kozuka of Japan.

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helene.elliott@latimes.com

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