Sunday, March 17, 2013
Queen Yuna reigns supreme at worlds
By Steve Keating
LONDON, Ontario (Reuters) - South Korean Kim Yuna capped her comeback season with a magical victory at the world figure skating championships on Saturday, serving notice that the Queen is back.
Queen Yuna, as Kim is known to her legions of fans around the globe, delivered a regal performance that sent a clear warning to any skater with aspirations of replacing her as Olympic champion next year - be ready for a fight.
Competing in her first major international competition in two years, Kim skated as if she had never been away, dominating the competition to pick up a second world title with a score of 218.31.
"This is the first time in a long time I have competed in such a big competition as the worlds," Kim told reporters through an interpreter.
"At the warm-up session I was really nervous actually but because I was sixth in the group and performed last I had enough time to calm down."
Skating to the music from "Les Miserables", Kim delivered a dazzling mix of artistry and athleticism that brought the capacity crowd to its feet through the final seconds of her routine, clapping and screaming with delight.
The last skater onto the ice, Kim took centre stage with the assurance of a headliner and all those before her were simply warm-up acts.
Italy's Carolina Kostner, the world and European champion, looked ready to give Kim a battle with her sultry "Bolero" but crashed to the ice on her final jump, a triple Lutz, leaving her with a mark of 197.89 and silver.
Double world champion Mao Asada also attempted to mount a challenge but it was too little, too late for the Japanese skater after her disappointing sixth in Thursday's short program and she had to settle for the bronze with 196.47.
"I have been in the worlds since 2007 and I have both good and bad memories," said Kim. "I had feeling this could be my last world championships and because I delivered good results, I am very happy."
Kim has been on the podium of every competition she has entered and even after a 20-month break there seems no reason that the trend will not continue on through next season and the Sochi Olympics.
Earlier on Saturday, Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White completed a perfect season reclaiming the ice dance title from Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.
It marked the fourth consecutive year the two couples have swapped gold and silver medals, Virtue and Moir winning the title in 2010 and 2012 and White and Davis taking home the big prize in 2011 and again on Saturday.
The latest reverse of positions on the podium adds to a friendly rivalry that will now continue onto the Sochi Winter Games, where the Americans will try to relieve the Canadians of their Olympic crown as well.
While the title will change hands, it will not go far with the good friends and training partners sharing a coach and practice rink in Detroit.
"These are performances to build off of, we are going to take and go home and work for next year," Moir told reporters. "We are obviously looking forward to a big season and coming out on top.
"This rivalry between the two of us seems to have heated up a little bit now and should be fun going into the Olympics."
The North American rivals have utterly dominated the ice dance scene over the last four years providing a massive roadblock for anyone trying to scratch their way to the top of the podium.
(Editing by John O'Brien)