- California Assembly OKs highest minimum wage in nation
- S. Korea unveils first graphic cigarette warnings
- US joins with South Korea, Japan in bid to deter North Korea
- LPGA golfer Chun In-gee finally back in action
- S. Korea won’t be top seed in final World Cup qualification round
- US men’s soccer misses 2nd straight Olympics
- US back on track in qualifying with 4-0 win over Guatemala
- High-intensity workout injuries spawn cottage industry
- CDC expands range of Zika mosquitoes into parts of Northeast
- Who knew? ‘The Walking Dead’ is helping families connect
Kim Yuna cruises to victory in season debut
By Kim Young-jin
It’s not as if the world needs a reminder of Kim Yuna’s presence.
Recovering from injury or not, she’s a two-time world figure skating champion and looking to become just the third woman ever to repeat as Olympic gold medalist.
But the Korean made that presence felt on Saturday, shaking off the rust to dance to victory at the Golden Spin of Zagreb in Croatia ― a tune-up ahead of the Sochi Olympics in February.
In her first event of the season, Kim skated cleanly after falling on her first jump combination, a triple lutz-triple toe loop, tallying a score of 131.12 for the free skate. Her total of 204.49 easily beat that of Miki Ando of Japan, who finished second with 176.82 points.
The margin of victory likely turned a few heads in Fukuoka, where Kim’s rival Mao Asada of Japan won the Grand Prix Final, beating out a field of skaters who hope to challenge the Korean “Ice Queen” in Sochi.
Despite the win at Dom Sportova Arena in the Croatian capital, Kim apparently has some tuning up to do after suffering a foot injury in September, which forced her to withdraw from two appearances during the International Skating Union (ISU) Grand Prix season.
“It wasn’t too bad for a first event of the season but I was shaky,” Kim said of her performance on Saturday.
“I panicked after making a mistake on the very first jump, which is the most important one, and I was really tight the rest of the way. Be it jumps, spins or steps, I wasn’t very smooth on many of them.”
Set to the tango piece “Adios Nonino,” the performance was filled with intricate step sequences. Kim added an impromptu double toe loop after a triple lutz halfway through the program to buoy her score.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva of Russia was third with 169.24 points.
Kim’s fall came after she botched the landing of her double axel ― seen as one of the easiest jumps ― during her short program the previous day. In a field without much top-shelf competition, her performance in the short program was good for 73.37 points, the highest short program score by any skater this season.
The mistakes ― unusual for a technically sound skater such as Kim ― set off some speculation about her recovery, with some noting the divergence in her performance in Croatia with that during the World Championships earlier this year, when she skated to a convincing win over defending champion Carolina Kostner and Asada.
Kim says she is still getting into top condition for the Olympics, which she says will be her last, and believes she has enough time to do so.
The 23-year-old has also said she’s around “80 to 90 percent” recovered from the injury and that she feels no pressure to win in Sochi.
With Kim’s record of coming up huge in critical moments, it’s safe to say no one will be taking her presence lightly.