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Queen Yu-na, indeed! Record-breaking Kim rules on ice
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Kim Yu-na gave South Korea its first title at the world figure skating championships on Saturday.

After her big lead in the short program, the woman known as "Queen Yu-na" at home finished with a record 207.71 points, shattering the old mark by eight points.

"Being the world champion was my dream and I did it here," Kim said. "So it's just amazing."

She was more than 16 points ahead of Joannie Rochette of Canada, and beat main rival Mao Asada of Japan by almost 20.

When she saw the scores, Kim closed her eyes and shook her head. She then stood up, beaming, and waved to the cheering crowd.

"I'm sure the whole globe shook," said Kim's coach, two-time Olympic silver medalist Brian Orser. "The whole country of Korea must be elated."

Rochette won the silver, Canada's first medal at the world championships since Liz Manley also won silver in 1988. Miki Ando, the 2007 world champion, was third. Asada, last year's winner, fell on her second triple axel and dropped to fourth.

"I was thinking about being a champion again, but instead of thinking about that, I needed to have concentrated on completing my elements," said Asada, who had clearly been crying.

Kim's and Asada's rivalry is the best thing going in skating. They've been at it since juniors, trading one major title after another. Asada won the world title last year and the Grand Prix final this season. Kim responded with a victory at Four Continents, setting up a showdown here.

But Kim was in a class by herself.

"I like it when the competing skaters do really well. I think she steps up to that," Orser said. "I know next year Mao has to be in top shape, but it is nice to win whenever you win. You take it any time."

Kim skates with ease and lightness, seeming almost to fly across the ice, but has incredible power and strength. While other skaters slow down as they approach their jumps, trying to steady themselves, she goes full speed ahead. Yet she lands as if she's touching down on a pillow. She did five triple jumps, three in combination, including a triple flip-triple toe loop combination to open the program.

There is so much more to her, though. Her edge quality is so high, she carves the ice like a calligrapher. All of her jumps were landed to crescendos in the music, making the music as much a part of her program as any other element. Her footwork was exquisite, and she skated with the elegance of a queen throughout her "Sheherazade" program.

Almost as entertaining was Orser. Standing by the boards, Orser did every element with her. His only flaw was a single leap at the end of the program, not nearly as difficult as the triple jump he did on Friday after her short program.

"I'm kind of drained. She skated so well and I skated it with her. I know the moment she is experiencing," said Orser, the 1987 world champion.

The audience was on its feet for the last 15 seconds of her program, knowing it had seen something truly special for a second straight night. Her only flaw was popping a triple salchow, but it was forgotten by the time her magical performance was over.

"This is my third world championships, and the last two I was really regretful I was not able to do well," said Kim, who won bronze medals in 2007 and 2008. "Even with a little mistake tonight, I was able to do well. Now, I plan to practice for the Olympics."

(Agencies via China Daily March 30, 2009)

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