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Kim earns record score in performance : The South Korean skater receives a 76.28 in the women's short program.

November 15, 2009|Philip Hersh

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — There are probably 10 men in the hunt for the figure skating medals at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

And they all should be thankful South Korean woman Kim Yuna is not in their event.

That is why the engraver can start putting Kim's name on the women's gold medal at the upcoming Vancouver Winter Games.

The record score she racked up in her short program Saturday night at Skate America would have been second in the men's event.

If reigning world champion Kim matches her season-best overall score in Sunday's free skate final, it would put her second in the men's event that reigning men's world champion Evan Lysacek won by a nearly 34-point margin Saturday.

That statistic is all the more remarkable because the men's free skate is 30 seconds longer, giving more opportunity to score points.

"She's incredible," Lysacek said. "She is breaking the barriers for women's scoring as far as numbers are concerned, and that is a big accomplishment."

Lysacek won his first Skate America title in five tries, crushing a weak field with two solid performances, qualifying for the Grand Prix final next month and adding to his reputation as a consistently solid skater.

His free skate had a couple minor flaws, but it was more significant the judges found no errors in his triple flip and triple axel jumps. Both had drawn technical deductions this season.

"To be competitive at the Olympics, it's going to take perfection, so I have a lot of work to do," he said.

Kim already battles a personal standard of impeccability that can daunt her. She admitted to feeling "very, very nervous" before Saturday's short program after having done what she called a perfect short program in her previous event.

That was at the Paris Grand Prix a month ago, when she scored 76.08.

Kim topped both that and the world record she set at the 2009 championships (76.12) with 76.28 Saturday. She appears to be the most overwhelming Olympic women's figure skating favorite since Peggy Fleming in 1968.

"She knows she is the favorite, but you want to go out and skate well and show everybody you are what you are," said her coach, two-time Olympic silver medalist Brian Orser of Canada.

Kim beat short program runner-up Rachael Flatt of the United States by 17.48 points.

"The number of her attributes keeps increasing," Flatt said. "It is neat to be a competitor of her and neat to be in awe of her."

Both Kim and Orser do their best to tune out the accolades.

But that's getting harder, given the ever-increasing decibels from the raucous standing ovations Kim keeps getting with performances and scores no one else in the world can approach.

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phersh@tribune.com

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