Vancouver / Canada

The figure skating competition at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games concluded in Vancouver, Canada, on Thursday with the Ladies Free Skating.

Yu-Na Kim (KOR) skates to gold and makes history
Yu-Na Kim of Korea skated to a historic gold medal in a fantastic Ladies’ competition on Thursday in Vancouver. Japan’s Mao Asada claimed the silver, while Joannie Rochette of Canada overcame a family tragedy to take the bronze medal.

Skating to George Gershwin’s “Concerto in F”, Kim gave the perfect performance and broke her own record score. The 2009 World Champion flowed through her routine, reeling off a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination, a double Axel-triple toeloop and three more triple jumps. She earned a level four for her spins and the spiral sequence, to score 150.06 points (78.30 element score/71.76 program component score). Overall the 19-year-old racked up 228.56 ponts to win the first medal in Olympic figure skating for the Republic of Korea. At the end of her spectacular performance, Kim, usually a composed competitor, had to wipe tears from her eyes. “I sill can’t believe the score that I received, I’m really surprised. It’s almost close to the Men’s score”, Kim said. “I was very happy that I was able to do everything that I was doingat my practice. For the first time, I had a very clean performance in both the Short and long Program. I can’t believe that this is not a dream anymore.”

Asada skated directly after Kim. The 2008 World Champion seemed calm when she took to the ice and opened her powerful program to “Bells of Moscow” by Sergei Rachmaninov with a triple Axel, followed by a triple Axel-double toeloop combination. Asada, 19, went on to complete a triple flip-double loop combination and a triple loop, but the second triple flip was cheated and downgraded and she popped a toeloop after slipping on the entry of the jump. The reigning Four Continents Champion received a seasons best of 131.72 points (64.68/67.04) and accumulated 205.50 points overall. For the first time in Olympic figure skating, two medals in Ladies’ singles went to Asian athletes. “The four minutes went by so quickly. I had a lot of thoughts in my head before my performance. I tried to keep my concentration”, Asada recalled. “I did everything I can do. To completee both triple Axels well at the Olympics was one good thing about my performance. But I am not happy with the rest of my performance”, the Japanese continued.

Rochette skated right after Asada and gave a gutsy performance to “Samson and Delilah”. The 2009 World Silver medalist landed a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination and five more triple jumps and also earned high levels for her spins. She only stepped out of a triple flip early into her routine. Rochette, whose mother died just two days before the competition, picked up a new personal best score of 131.28 points (62.80/68.48) and accumulated 205.50 points overall. She is the first Canadian woman to win an Olympic medal since Elizabeth Manley captured the silver 1988 in Calgary. “Tonight, for those four minutes, I could only think of my skating. It was good, because I really needed to be in a state of mind where I couldn’t be touched, were I could be in my own bubble. I still don’t know how I could do this and not start crying before the music starts. I’m really glad that I could skate”, Rochette told the press.

Mirai Nagasu (USA) came fourth in her Olympic debut with a sparkling performance to “Carmen” that featured six triple jumps and strong spins. The 16-year-old earned a total of 190.15 points. The last time that there was no US woman on the Olympic podium was in 1964.

Miki Ando (JPN) produced a solid performance in the role of Cleopatra, hitting six triples. The 2007 World Champion nevertheless slipped from fourth to fifth with 182.49 points.

European silver medalist Laura Lepistö (FIN) was the top ranked European skater, pulling up from 10th in the Short Program to sixth place overall (187.97 points).

The figure skating event at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games concludes Saturday with the Exhibition Gala.