Yu Na Kim leads a tight race in figure skating

Published On February 19, 2014 | By Alice Cook

They call Yu Na Kim “the queen” for a reason.  The South Korean skater ruled the ice four years ago in Vancouver, and appears to have no intention of relinquishing her crown.  The skater that took a “hiatus” for almost two years is better than ever.  Kim’s short program was flawless.  Her jumps have height, distance and feather light landings.

Kim deserves to be in first place going into the free skate, except this time she doesn’t lead by a mile.  Instead Kim has two skaters nipping at her heels. Less than one point separates the top three ladies.

A Russian teenager sits in second place, and not the Russian we thought it would be.  Adelina Sotnikova now carries Russia’s hopes for gold.  She wore a bright red dress and brought a killer instinct into her short program.  The 17 year old will be carrying the weight of Russia on her shoulders into the free skate, and something tells me it won’t be a problem.

The rising Russian star was supposed to be 15 year old Julian Lipnitskaia, who performed so beautifully in the team competition.   She fell on her triple flip in Thursday’s short,  and that was that.

The most artistic and pleasing to the eye performance in the short belonged to Italy’s Carolina Kostner.   She was flawless in her white dress skating  to the classic Ave’ Maria. I’ve seen my share of Ave’ Maria’s through the years, and none better than Kostner’s.

The Italian skater is no stranger to the Olympic stage.  This is her third Winter Games, and she skates like a veteran. The bronze medal will be either hers or go to American Gracie Gold.

Gold has learned how to be a competitor under new coach Frank Carroll.   In the short program you need to fight through each element and stand up, which is exactly what Gold did.   In my mind, Gold is without a doubt worthy of the Olympic podium.

So are the three skaters ahead of her.

In fifth we have Lipnitskaia who appears to have lost the wind from her sails.  Maybe all the hype that has followed her the past week has caught up to her.  Once the Russian hockey team lost it was all on her.  Too much pressure.

No worries for Lipnitskaia.  She is 15, and could easily be around for the next two Olympics.

American Ashley Wagner sits in 6th place.  Wagner came out of the gate like a caged beast.   She easily is the best thing that ever happened to Pink Floyd.   A two footed landing on the triple combination cost her some valuable points.

I like how Wagner is bringing an attitude to her skating.  After getting the Olympic nod in a storm of controversy, Wagner is making a statement. She is proving to be completely Olympic worthy- and that’s a win for her.

Rounding out the American girls is Polina Edmonds.  At the U.S. Championships in January this young skater came out of nowhere to place second.   Edmunds rocked her “cha-cha” one more time.  The program had great jumps and lots of energy.  Her seventh place finish after the short is very impressive and bodes very well for the future.

It all comes down to the free skate.  Woody Allen talked about 30 seconds of fame.  Each of these ladies will  get four minutes, and it promises to be epic.







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About The Author

is a veteran television sports reporter and Olympian. Her experience includes 25 years of sports reporting for WBZ-TV, the CBS and former NBC affiliate in Boston. Cook has worked for ESPN, Turner Sports, and WTBS. Cook is a feature writer for She's Game Sports and Boston.com. She is also President and Founder of She's Game Sports LLC.