Kim shines in short program at nationals

Kyodo

Reigning Olympic champion Kim Yu-na fired a warning shot to her rivals after producing a nearly flawless performance in the women’s short program at South Korea’s national championships on Saturday.

The 23-year-old Kim topped the leaderboard with an eye-popping score of 80.60 points at the meet in Goyang, surpassing her world-record score of 78.50 from the Vancouver Olympics — although the mark will not be officially recognized by the International Skating Union since it occurred at a domestic competition.

Kim, whose rivals include Vancouver silver medalist Mao Asada among the three Japanese skaters who will compete at the Sochi Olympics next month, was a picture of grace as she glided in her yellow dress and nailed a sequence of jumps without incident.

Among the difficult jumps she executed were a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, a triple flip and a double axel. Kim flashed the winsome smile she has become known for after seeing her score appear on the big screen.

“I give myself full marks,” Yonhap News Agency quoted Kim as saying. “Everything went well, even my jumps — considering the amount of time I was able to practice them. At the Olympics I think I can have a good result, if I am able to skate without making mistakes like I did today.”

Kim, who pulled out of this season’s Grand Prix series due to a right-foot injury, appears to be back on her feet just in time in the last competition before heading to Sochi. The free skate takes place on Sunday.

“I am improving physically. It gives me confidence,” she said.