YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Kim Yu-Na wins world title with a record-setting performance

The 18-year-old from South Korea becomes the first woman to score more than 200 points and easily takes the championship.

March 29, 2009|Phillip Hersh

Perfection may be the only thing left for Kim Yu-Na to shoot for.

She made history and made an Olympic gold medal next year seem a foregone conclusion by utterly dominating the World Figure Skating Championships.

Before a large contingent of compatriots in a sellout crowd for the free skate final Saturday night at the Staples Center, Kim not only became the first South Korean to win a world figure skating title but did it with a record score and won by a whopping 16 points despite two significant errors in her free skate.

"Tonight she skated so good there was no doubt," said Joannie Rochette, whose silver was the first medal for a Canadian woman at worlds in 21 years. "Anything is possible, but of course she is a tough competitor."

Kim, 18, botched one jump, a planned triple salchow, which became a downgraded double. And she scored no points on her final spin because she had not fulfilled the spin requirements.

"That is a lesson learned," Kim said.

After consecutive world bronze medals, Kim won gold despite completing only five triple jumps. Those she landed, including a triple-triple combination, and the rest of her skating were of surpassing quality.

"It's always good to have room for improvement, so you will keep pushing yourself to get better," 1992 Olympic champion Kristi Yamaguchi said of Kim.

Miki Ando of Japan, the 2007 world champion, was third, completing a fine comeback after being forced to withdraw midway through the 2008 worlds because of shoulder and leg injuries.

"I thought about not skating anymore," Ando said.

Kim's presumed archrival, 2008 world champion Mao Asada of Japan, finished fourth, almost 20 points behind. Kim's total of 207.71 not only broke Asada's old record score but made her the first woman to top 200 points.

Although Asada said Kim was "a very good rival for me," the truth is the South Korean has no rivals but the standard of excellence she has set.

"I'm a little worried about how I can keep [up] the scores," Kim said. "To keep it close to 200 is my goal now."

As expected, the two U.S. entries failed to achieve the combined finish -- 13 or fewer -- necessary to earn three spots for their country at the Vancouver Games. Rachael Flatt was a distant fifth and Alissa Czisny, 11th.

That will turn the 2010 U.S. Championships into a pitched battle, with as many as seven contenders for the two spots.

One could be 2006 Olympic silver medalist Sasha Cohen, who seems increasingly committed to a comeback after three years away from competition. Despite sloppy landings on three jumps, Flatt, 16, landed six triples and delivered a solid performance in her world championship debut.

Flatt dumped her long program music after nationals, returning to her 2008 music, and the result was a much more energized skate.

While she stayed on her feet, a marked improvement from the short program's two falls, Czisny, 21, still was underwhelming in the free skate.

Czisny got credit for only three triple jumps, the same number she landed in the free skate at the U.S. championships. Her finish was lowest at worlds for a reigning U.S. champion since 1963, two years after the entire U.S. team was killed in a plane crash.


Los Angeles Times Articles