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Mao Asada placed third and trailed leader Kim Yu Na by more than 10 points after the women’s short program at the World Figure Skating Championships Friday, leaving her with an uphill battle to successfully defend her title.

The South Korean rival captured the lead with 76.12 points, the best ever for a woman, 8.22 ahead of Canada’s Joannie Rochette and 10.06 ahead of Asada at Staples Center.

Asada landed a triple-triple jump combination but failed to cleanly land an underrotated triple lutz attempt, scoring only 0.9 on that jump.

“I’m glad that I landed a triple-triple, but I should have been more aggressive on the triple lutz. In my head I was still worried about past mistakes,” Asada said.

“I’ll just give my all in the free skate. I hope not to make any mistakes,” the 18-year-old said, looking ahead to Saturday’s free skate.

Asada has struggled with the short program all season, having taken the lead only once in six starts, while Kim has won the short program in all of her five starts in the 2008-09 season.

Kim covered her face in disbelief when she saw her score that bettered her own all-time high by nearly four points.

Looking for her first world title, Kim hit a triple-triple at the start of her program and received level 4s on three spins.

“I did all my elements cleanly, but I was just surprised at the score,” she said.

Of the other Japanese skaters, Miki Ando, the 2007 world champion, was fourth with 64.12 and Fumie Suguri in ninth with 58.40.

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